While you have all heard about the backlash to the election of Donald Trump from afar, the emotional unrest was undeniable from my visit to New York on the first weekend since the election.
With my semester abroad at the University of Guelph in Canada, I have been close enough to be a part of the Trump dialogue, but visiting New York put me right at the heart of the conversation.
The election was inescapable as subway rides, restaurants, and pedestrian traffic were constant grounds for talk of what a Trump presidency might mean for America.
However, the climax of this dialogue protruded in Manhattan on Saturday, November 12 when thousands chanted “we reject the president-elect” in protest of Trump.
The #NotMyPresident protests began the day after the election as a result of nation-wide frustration with Trump’s win. The protests have taken place in some of the largest US cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York – right on the doorstep of Trump Tower.
One New York protester, Gregory Schultz, took a moment from chanting and waving a sign of a safety pin – which symbolises solidarity with minority groups – to explain his place in the #NotMyPresident protest.
Protesters from the 2016 Anti-Trump “Not My President” rallies in New York City. Credit: Ruby Becker
“This is just as important as my vote because real change doesn’t start with a vote, it starts with an idea and that has to grow into something that gets acted on,” said Schultz.
While Schultz accepts that Trump won the election, he does not accept the bigotry, misogyny, racism and hatred and thinks it has no place in his country.
“I’m protesting the behaviour of our President-elect towards a lot of minorities and a lot of people in this country who, for the last year and a half, made horrific comments about and tried to marginalise,” he said.
Canberra and the rest of the world have closely watched Donald Trump’s surprising and revolutionary success with his presidential campaign, but mostly for notorious reasons.
Trump has been ridiculed for such incidents as his “locker room talk” where he made derogatory comments about women and for such comments as calling Mexicans “drug-dealers, criminals and rapists”.
Schultz, however, does not want Australians to think that of all Americans.
“He raised his hand and fought hard for a job, so when he goes to your country, he’s not representing only people who voted for him, he’s representing everybody,” he said.
Protesters ranged from members of the LGBT community, the Black Lives Matter movement, advocates for refugees and feminists. Millennials, who were not of voting age, also joined the protests to make their views clear.
Rena Hort, a 15-year-old New Yorker, thinks it is important for millennials to be involved in the election in any way they can.
“We are the future… we’re exercising our rights and we deserve a voice in this and by standing out here – that’s our voice,” said Hort.
One of the biggest issues that anti-Trump protesters have with the election is that Trump won because of the electoral college system, but would have lost if it were by popular vote.
One female protester – whose name is unknown – questions why the electoral college needs to be in place when the majority voted for a different candidate.
“I do think that it speaks volumes that this is the highest popular vote where it’s come down to the line between that and the discrepancy with the electoral college,” said the protester.
It is uncertain how long and to what extent the anti-Trump protests will continue, however, it is clear that many Americans are willing to uphold this movement.
Schultz was thankful for the rest of the world, including us at the University of Canberra, for taking interest.
“The visual of what we are doing resonates across the entire world, so I think it’s important for fellow Americans and other people in the world to realise that all Americans won’t stand for this kind of behaviour,” Schultz said.