My Adventures Studying Abroad In Limerick, Ireland – During The 2016 Presidential Election

November 15, 2016

By Mary Alice Maloney

I cried a lot on November 9. The results of the election shocked me to my core and I burst into tears as soon as I woke up that morning and had tears still sitting in my eyes when I went to bed that night. On November 8, I tried to stay up to watch the results come in, but after a while the six-hour time difference between here and home was making my eyelids heavy. I drifted to sleep hoping, praying and telling myself that America would make the right decision. The despair of reality was crushing.

Being abroad for the last few months of this election, I was hoping to be slightly removed from the constant barrage of attacks and contention and general nastiness between the two campaigns, from both the media and among people I knew. I planned to follow the important updates and voted with my absentee ballot, but I was looking forward to the distance.

Before arriving in Ireland, we were warned not to talk politics openly in public- not just American politics, but Irish politics and about Brexit- as a way to steer clear of unpleasant or confrontational interactions. I knew some discussions would eventually take place, but I was prepared to be careful and respectful. I was excited to hear the opinions of Europeans on the American election.

I knew people around the world were curious about the election, but I never could have guessed just how deeply opinionated they would be about it. All exaggerations aside, I hear about or am asked about the election every single day. Every. Single. Day. My professors bring it up, my classmates ask about it, random people in pubs grill me on it and even my cab drivers laugh about it in my face. As soon as I say, “Hi, my name is Mary Alice”, they say “Oh, you’re from America? Is Trump going to win? Who are you voting for? What the hell is happening over there?”

The Irish people I’ve met are not afraid to talk about American politics, especially in this tumultuous time. They aren’t afraid to get in your face about it and express how completely disgusted they are with Trump, how Clinton is okay and how much they love Bernie Sanders. They viewed the election as a huge joke and now openly laugh at the winner. They’re relentless in letting me know how they feel about it. Sometimes it could get nasty and uncomfortable, as people would scream that America is doomed no matter what and wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise and other times people had genuine concerns and questions, and were worried about the possibility of a Trump win. “How could a guy like that get so far?” they’d ask.

I still have no answer for these people. It’s only been a few days since Trump won the election and the Irish and other Europeans are having a field day with it. I dreaded going to classes on Wednesday because I knew what I was in for. My Irish Language professor walked in the room, set down his bag and said “What the f*** happened?” I almost started crying again as I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. I heard some German and French students laughing. “Hey, if Trump can become president I can pass this final exam!” one said joyfully. “The leader of the free world is a reality TV star with no experience or background,” another said through a grin. No one here is taking Trump’s presidency seriously and I cannot blame them. However, no one I’ve met seems to be trying to empathize with the fact that we have to return home to live this nightmare as our immediate reality, and that I do not appreciate.

I want so badly to stand up for my country, but I’m not sure how to do that right now. It’s impossible for me to defend this decision. I am lost. What I can do is remind everyone who has lost faith in America to remember that not all Americans believe in walls, prejudice and hatred. Not all Americans disrespect the existences of those who are different from them. All Americans believe that they are fighting for what is right, and while right now that may be what is dividing us, hopefully that passion and light will soon bring us together. We have to listen to each other, keep moving forward and hope beyond hope because the world is watching and we have no other choice.

malomarya@my.dom.edu

Opinion: Time To Unite, Not Spread Fear

November 15, 2016

By Rich Bodee

The presidential election is being called by many analysts, “history’s greatest political feat.” And it was. 

Let’s start with Donald Trump’s voters: the silent majority, a term that dates back to President Nixon. The concept is applicable now as those who supported Trump and his policies (and may or may not have said it out loud) were the majority of voters, contrary to what many analysts, pundits and polls predicted. 

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 300,000 votes but in 2000, Al Gore also won the popular vote and lost to George W. Bush. This has happened before. 

In a previous column, I discussed how the electoral system works, why it is flawed and then I advocated for electoral votes by congressional district, which I said gives each voter more of a voice. But like it or not, that is not the system that’s in place in our current democracy. 

Clinton and President Obama spoke to voters and supporters the day after the election voicing a simple message: we are all on the same team. Obama even used the metaphor of an intramural scrimmage.

Now is the time to be united but CNN Political Commentator Van Jones didn’t get the message.

To be fair, Van Jones made his comments early on Nov. 9 when Trump was declared a winner and hours before Obama and Clinton even delivered their speeches.

I’d also like to point out that CNN is owned by Time Warner, who just so happens to be one of Clinton’s biggest donors. 

You may have missed his comments because it was late and you fell asleep before the results were all in but take a close look at what Van Jones, Democrat and Clinton supporter, said trying to express the pain of a Clinton defeat. 

“We have talked about income, we have talked about class, we have talked about region, but we haven’t talked about race,” Jones said. “This was a white-lash. This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that’s the where the pain comes. And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come out and reassure people that he is going to be the president of all the people who he insulted, and offended, and brushed aside.”

Jones’ term “white-lash” refers to some sort of backlash from white people who, according to Jones, voted for Trump and are in his eyes guilty of the qualities like racism and sexism, which have defined Trump throughout this election cycle.

You want to talk about dangerous rhetoric, that’s what this is. You want to talk about how Trump grouped people, that’s what this is. 

I guess Jones forgot that white people also supported Obama. Did he forget that 69.4 million people voted for Obama in 2008 and 65.9 million in 2012?

The 59.9 million people who voted for Trump are not all racists and sexists, like the media and Clinton’s campaign has characterized them. Some are but the vast majority are not. But by using the phrase “white-lash,” Jones is saying that, if you are white and you voted for Trump, you are grouped into that category. 

Jones was right in that Trump does have the responsibility to heal the divide in this country that was created during the campaign. Trump made many inflammatory comments throughout the election cycle and that’s not something we should just overlook, but it’s also not something we can control. America has spoken and Donald Trump is our 45th president.

This was an election based on political ideology and policy. It was a rejection by voters of the “political insiders.” Just look at Illinois as an example. In 2014, we elected Bruce Rauner as our governor – a businessman that also had no political experience prior to running for office. Rauner and Trump even had a similar message. Rauner’s message was to “Bring Back Illinois,” and Trump’s message was to “Make America Great Again.” If a state that has been a Democratic stronghold for over two decades elected a Republican governor, then we should be the ones to serve as a model of why we should give Trump a chance before we criticize his policies once he is in office. He is, after all, our next president and this is how our democracy works.  

 I understand the fear associated with an incoming Trump administration. Look at the history of America. Japanese internment camps in the 1940’s and Operation Wetback in 1954 are examples of why people are fearful. During his campaign, Trump suggested that he would deport illegal immigrants. However, it’s unlikely that Trump could actually get any deportation program through Congress. For the record, Trump’s suggestion of a “Muslim ban” was deleted from his website at some point during the election. 

However, just walking around campus on Nov. 9, I saw students and faculty in tears. Talking with some of them, I found my fellow classmates were more fearful of how the outside world now views them, including right here at Dominican. It is important that we all acknowledge the relevance of this fear.

I want to make a few things clear. I am white and I support the various programs for foreign students at Dominican. I support gender equal pay. After all, my mom was pilot for United Airlines and can speak to how men would view her as she rose through the company’s ranks. But one thing that I don’t support, and will never support, is the unfair and inaccurate labeling or grouping of an entire ethnicity, gender or religion. Unfortunately, that needs to be said in our modern world. 

Here at Dominican, we are all on the same team. We may have disagreements, but we are all here for the same purpose: to learn, to grow and to create a more inclusive community where no student, faculty member or visitor feels threatened or marginalized. 

Going forward, that should be our goal; to control what we can right here at Dominican.

boderich@my.dom.edu