Watching the final results of the American election roll in, what started as a night full of optimism quickly turned to heartbreak and disbelief.
Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump was, and still is, shocking. I can’t help but feel completely discouraged when I think about the potential of what the next four years could’ve been, if only the results had been different. But, after a couple days of bereavement, it’s time for us to ask the question: how did this happen, and what does it mean?
Hillary Clinton was, in theory, the champion that America needed. She dedicated over thirty years to public service, and spent her entire adult life fighting for some of the country’s most vulnerable peoples.
Not only did she serve as the First Lady of the United States, she was also elected to the Senate for the state of New York, and most recently served as Secretary of State under President Obama. In a typical election, one could argue that these credentials would boost her campaign and unquestionably qualify her for the White House. However, this was not a typical election, and Hillary’s valuable experience was not enough to break the final glass ceiling.
Hillary’s loss was, in conjunction with other factors, a backlash reaction to the progress embodied by the Obama administration. Put simply, the American people proved that they weren’t ready to accept the first female president on the back of the first black president.
The results of this election highlighted the power of systemic sexism and racism in America, despite false narratives of progress for women and minorities.
The proof is in the pudding: according to pollster Anna Greenberg, Hillary Clinton is most popular when she is subordinate to a man, and least popular when taking on leadership roles herself. Case and point: running for the highest office in the United States rather than serving in the cabinet of a male president.
The good news is, progress isn’t on hold for the next four years. However, for us to change, we need to face the reality of the problem — systemic oppression in the United States is alive and it’s only galvanized by ignorance.
In the next four years, Americans need to take time to reflect on what they’ve been taught, and what legacy they want to leave for future generations. Hillary Clinton may have lost this battle, but we’ll decide whether the war against systemic inequality is lost.
Orlaith Croke-Martin is a third-year health studies student. She’s the Marketing Director for QFLIP.
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