By Amanda Weber and Felicia Smolen
Assistant New Editor and Griffin Reporter
In a turnout which went against almost all polling, Republican nominee Donald J. Trump was elected as the next President of the United States. Despite early numbers which consistently indicated that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had a lead over Trump and would likely take the Presidency, the early hours of November 9 proved this was not to be the case. Many of the cable news reporters covering the election seemed dumbfounded when it was declared that Donald Trump had officially won the Presidency after surpassing the required 270 electoral votes. However, similar to the election between Al Gore and former President George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote. Nevertheless, Donald Trump won the Electoral College and, barring faithless electors, will be our next President. To say that this election has caused a plethora of backlash and controversy is an understatement. The Griffin had the opportunity to interview Victoria Fish ‘20, member of the College Republicans, to get her take on the Republican candidate winning the election and what has stemmed from that, both on a national level and on our own campus.
Like many other Americans, including those who supported and voted for Trump, Fish was shocked and baffled as she was watching the live coverage on Election Night. While many people watched in horror as Trump won important swing states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, supporters were starting to believe that the candidate they voted for actually had a shot at winning this election. As Trump’s Electoral College count increased and surpassed Hillary Clinton, Fish could not believe what she was seeing.
“I thought that I was dreaming and there was no way it was actually happening,” said Fish. “When we had the GriffTV Election Livestream event, I sat before the camera and could not believe that Trump was actually in the electoral lead.”
One of the reasons that this election result was so baffling was that the American public and those involved in media were not prepared to hear the term “President Donald Trump.” Early polling results and the presentation of the election by the cable and corporate news media predicted that Hillary Clinton would be the clear winner. Despite the polls getting closer and closer together after the FBI announcement that they wished to reopen the case of Clinton’s emails, the Democratic nominee still held a lead over Trump going into that contentious Election Night. Although Fish agrees that polls are a great tool, she also notes that they are not always completely accurate and should not be relied on fully.
“Depending on who answers the poll and how honestly they answer it, the results of the poll can be skewed,” said Fish. She went on to say, “More of the support shown for candidates, whether they were from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or of a third party, were not shown through polls as much as they were in social media and just [at] rallies in general.”
This election has once again sparked, on a large scale, an extremely popular debate that has been discussed since the controversial election of former President George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000. This debate involves whether or not the Electoral College should continue to determine the Presidency, or if the popular vote alone should be used to make this crucial decision. Despite Trump being declared as the President-elect, the latest report states that Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote by approximately one million votes, although votes are still being counted. This gap has had people talking and wondering if the Electoral College is a worn-out system. Despite this controversy and some grievances, Fish ultimately believes that the Electoral College is the most effective way to determine the Presidency. She also believes that the candidates must be mindful of the Electoral College and use it to their advantage throughout their campaigns.
“Though Clinton should be proud to have the honor of winning the popular vote,” said Fish, “it is evident that she should have spent her time campaigning heavier in the states that would give her a bigger electoral advantage.”
Since the declaration of Trump as President-elect, the American public, on both sides of the political spectrum, has exhibited divisive behavior and been very open about their opinions on the election. Many who are “anti-Trump” have expressed their disappointment and frustration through various social media and protests. Canisius College, on the day after the election, held a peaceful protest against the election result, and against the now nationally infamous baby-doll incident. Despite this peaceful behavior, there have also been instances of violence and abuse, both physical and verbal. Fish has a personal experience with this and is bothered by those who cannot respect the fact that people often have conflicting “political ideologies.”
“I had a student come up to me in the library and comment on the opinions I stated on the GriffTV Election Livestream the night prior,” said Fish. “I was called ignorant, uneducated, racist, and a homophobe by this student, and I was taken aback by the statement completely.”
However, Trump supporters have also exhibited appalling behavior and people have committed heinous crimes in his name. According to CNN, more than 300 cases of harassment and hate crimes have been reported since the election on November 8. Some of these despicable acts include a painting of a swastika surrounded by the words “Make America White Again” painted on a dugout wall in Wellsville, NY. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Muslim student was approached by a man and was told that she would be burned and set on fire if she did not remove her hijab. In a recent interview with “60 Minutes”, President-elect Trump said that he was “very saddened” to hear of these acts and that those perpetrating them should “stop it.”
“I cannot stress enough the fact that, as a nation, we cannot move forward if we continue to set ourselves back with pointless acts of hatred and violence,” said Fish. “How can we advance as a nation if we make the choice to continue dividing ourselves?”
One extremely unfortunate, emotional, and hateful incident occurred on our very own campus and involved our very own students. As The Griffin reported last week, a black baby doll was discovered in the Frisch Hall elevator. Later, pictures on social media started circulating of the same baby doll hanging from a curtain rod in a dorm room. The picture that was circulated had text on it that read, “Trump Fans: Hanging Babies since 2016.” Despite the efforts of Public Safety and College President and Former Griffin Editor John J. Hurley, this event had a dramatic and overwhelming impact on students throughout the College, and especially students of color. Many expressed feelings of being unsafe at their own school, and some were not even sure if they wished to continue their education here at Canisius. Despite this blatant example of racism and disrespect, Fish notes that the issue at hand in this situation is larger than the election itself.
“What happened in Frisch was absolutely disgusting,” said Fish, “and only shows the validity behind the fact that America is, once again, a nation heavily divided against itself.”
Ultimately, like many other Americans, Fish agrees that the ultimate goal has to be the citizens presenting a united front and stating that they will not stand for hatred and bigotry, from either side of the political spectrum. Instead of judging someone for having a different opinion or political view, really listen to them and take in what they have to say. You never know what you will learn until you open your eyes and ears, and just listen. It starts with one person, and that one can turn into one million and so on. No matter who our President is, it is ultimately up to the citizens of this nation to decide how to treat one another. The Griffin sincerely encourages students at the school to engage in constructive conversations with one another, and try to understand what makes each person different in lifestyle and perspective, and ultimately what brings people together.
“People do not realize the power and potential that they hold,” said Fish. “If we want to make and see change, we must stand together and make the necessary effort.”