By: STEPHEN SALISBURY
According to Webster’s dictionary, a demagogue is “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”
There is no doubt, based on this definition, that America elected a demagogue last week. There is also no doubt that there are many communities on this campus that are legitimately fearful for what this may mean for them, their friends, or other members of their families.
I sat in a room last Wednesday night (see page one) and listened while people lamented and shed real tears in response to the election results that were so fresh in everyone’s minds.
I have also talked with other members of our campus community, who I have to be honest, are usually young and white, who simply don’t understand what all of the fuss is about. What I tell them is that we simply cannot know what it is like to live in the skin and, or identity of those who not only have been marginalized most of their lives, but who have been specifically targeted during this past campaign season.
What concerns me the most is not so much what our new president-elect may do, but what those at the grassroots level who espouse extremely hateful views toward women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ community (many of whom Candidate Trump reached out to in his campaign) who may believe now that, because of the election results, they have free reign to torment and belittle either physically, emotionally, or psychologically those whom they see as deviant, may do.
I would ask those who don’t understand the fear to avoid delegitimizing it by saying that people are overreacting. Again, unless you have been a target of racism, misogyny, homophobia, or bigotry of any kind, you have no right to marginalize the feelings many of these communities are experiencing.
It turns out that this will be my last column this semester because The Preface will not be publishing anymore issues until next semester, so I’d like to issue a clarion call to all members of our university to simply be there for one another for the next couple of months. If people are afraid, acknowledge their fear and be a source of empathy and comfort when possible. If people are naïve as to why you may be fearful, explain to them in as rational a way as possible what it’s like to live as a member of a minority community in this country. We all have many different perspectives to offer each other and that is the very definition of collegiality.
I know there are many on this campus who voted for the president-elect, while there are many who voted for his opponent or a third-party candidate. For those of you who made the effort and actually voted on Election Day, I say thank you. For those who didn’t, but could have, I beg you simply to reconsider your choice next election cycle and use the most powerful tool many of us have at our disposal, the voting booth. As we move ahead in this new reality in which we live, I would argue we simply have to take things one day at a time. It’s only been a week and already President-elect Trump is saying he will do things differently as president than he promised as a candidate, so I’m not sure we can honestly know what a Trump presidency is going to look like.
People are afraid, but no laws have been passed just yet, no executive orders have been overturned, no Supreme Court Justices have been appointed. Our job as citizens is to make sure our voices are heard, so keep up the protests, but don’t attack people in the process.
Pay attention to the news from Washington and the Statehouse in Indianapolis every day. If our representatives propose things that go against our morals and principles, get on the phone, start writing e-mails, get on a bus and make your position known in Indianapolis or Washington.
Consider even becoming a candidate for office. Our former IUSB Student Body President, Justin Chupp, did that this past election cycle and only lost by approximately 500 votes which is amazing for a first time candidate.
Was he discouraged that he lost? I’m sure. Do you think he’ll never run again? Highly unlikely. For many of us, our candidate lost this past Wednesday. Does this mean we give up the fight? No. We regroup. We learn from our mistakes. We move on and start the next round. For those whose candidate won, I would suggest you take nothing for granted. If we learned anything last Tuesday, things we think couldn’t possibly happen, sometimes do. Have a great end to your semester everyone and here’s to new beginnings in 2017!