The 2016 Election: Where do we go from here?

Campus responds to election results

Christy Carley, New Editor

For the past day and a half, the Whitman community has been fixated with the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.

While for many Trump’s victory evoked feelings of anger and disappointment, still a few on Whitman’s campus were in favor of the results. Nearly everyone, however, was surprised.

Associate Professor of Politics Susanne Beechey is teaching a class this semester on the 2016 Elections. While she didn’t expect the results, she emphasized that this kind of surprise is not entirely unprecedented.

“No I didn’t expect the Trump victory, I think few people did,” Beechey said in an email to The Whitman Wire. “I know for many this feels unprecedented, but little is truly unprecedented in American politics.”

She cited former President Harry Truman’s surprise victory over Thomas Dewey in 1948 as a similarly unexpected win. In the 1948 election, as in this year’s election, polling data did not predict the outcome.

The discrepancy between polling data and the results of the election surprised Professor of Politics Paul Apostolidis at first, but he said that he was less surprised after taking the historical context into consideration.

In an email to The Whitman Wire, Apostolidis said that Trump’s win may be attributed to the failure of the Democratic Party to address the economic issues facing job poor areas of the country such as Flint, Michigan.

“The Democrats need to offer ambitious, material policy alternatives if they want to bring back white working-class voters,” Apostolidis said. “They can no longer rely on symbolic politics, whether in the multi-culturalist mode of Obama and Hillary Clinton or in the good-old-boy mode of Bill Clinton, to bring these voters back.”

In response to the election, many members of the community expressed feelings of mourning, and offered support to friends, family and acquaintances. In an email to the college on Wednesday afternoon, President Kathy Murray urged the Whitman community to come together after what she called a “divisive and contentious” election.

Murray announced that the Glover Alston Center (GAC) would be open to students, staff and faculty on Wednesday and Thursday to provide a space for discussion.

“The Whitman Community is made up of people with many different beliefs,” read Murray’s email. “But it is those that we share that define us: inclusion, respect for difference, care for one another, willingness to engage in challenging conversations and a shared commitment to making Whitman a safe environment for every member of our community.”

Many of such challenging conversations occurred in the classroom. Senior Erin Kirkpatrick said she discussed the election in her philosophy class on Plato’s Republic. The discussion focused on how politics function within different sized societies.

“I feel powerless when I think about how much I affect events on a national scale, but there is so much I can do to get directly involved in local government or in Whitman’s community,” Kirkpatrick said.

Beechey also emphasized the importance of staying engaged and involved in politics.

“This has been a hard campaign season for many of us but it’s important to remember that politics neither begins nor ends with elections, and the imperatives to politically engage with and for one another continue,” she said.

According to senior Zoey Kapusinski, it is important, particularly for those in positions of privilege, to work toward a more inclusive and just future.

“I worry that white allies, ones who are feeling shocked, dismayed and outraged, will be too busy struggling with the idea that what they thought was going to happen didn’t happen. That they will not have the capacity to step up and be there for the communities who are most vulnerable: primarily immigrants and black and brown folks,” Kapusinski said. She also emphasized the importance of standing up for women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Sikhs, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

While many at Whitman are worried about what the future may hold, senior Groover Snell, President of the Whitman College Republicans Club, said that he believes it is important not to get carried away with the results of the election. Snell was equally surprised at Trump’s victory, but believes that the shock will wear off.

“Given the messages of unity and cooperation expressed by Trump, Clinton and Obama, the scary and divisive feelings about the campaign will go away,” he said.

While Snell did not express outright support for Trump’s victory, he maintained that there were legitimate reasons that Trump won.

“There were legitimate grievances with the ‘establishment’ and reasons for Trump’s victory yesterday,” Snell said. “The election results show us that.”

In concluding her email to campus, Murray emphasized the necessity of continuing dialogues within the Whitman community, as well as the nation as whole.

“This is just the beginning of a conversation in which there will be no easy answers, but it is that ongoing conversation that will allow our community and our country to begin to heal.”


Update: Professor of History David F. Schmitz will be giving a lecture entitled “The Election of 2016 in Historical Perspective” at 7:00 p.m. on Tues. Nov. 15 in Maxey Auditorium. All are welcome to attend.