After Tuesday’s stunning electoral upset by Donald Trump, we asked ourselves repeatedly, “How did this happen?” With polling aggregator websites such as FiveThirtyEight projecting the chances of a Clinton president to be at least 70 percent, most of her supporters were assured of their candidate’s victory. To many Democrats, the race was won without the ballots even cast. This thought came crashing down as state by state leaned red and eventually went to Donald Trump. We watched with horror as the man we knew to be an extremist with a track record against women and minorities won the presidential election. So who exactly voted for Donald Trump? In the wake of the election, exit polls and social media platforms revealed who they were: almost half of the participating voters in this election claimed that we Democrats were out of touch.
Falling out of touch is easy when you live in a place where everyone around you thinks the same liberal thoughts that you do. Ideological discourse is almost a rarity at various liberal institutions around the country. In fact, how can we have discourse if the majority is in agreement with the same liberal tenets? Getting out of the liberal bubble begins with reflecting on how we built it.
To understand the rest of America, and more specifically Trump supporters, we must also understand where we are amongst the American people. We are young people, willing to accept change at a faster rate, whether that change is new technology or ideas about gender. As a women’s college, Wellesley always has and always will be on the more liberal end of the spectrum. We strive to see women like us in power, and are keenly aware of the prejudices and discrimination we face as women. As an institution, we promote the liberal ideas of women’s rights. However, the reality of the world outside of Wellesley is starkly different. Women still do not receive equal pay, are slighted in representation and still fight for healthcare access and rights. The world doesn’t look like Wellesley and has a substantial population not affected by these injustices.
We must make up for what we lack in the classroom. We need presentations of different ideologies and their reasoning in our lectures and academic life. We ought to look to our classmates who have different backgrounds and beliefs than ours. Wellesley needs to create a platform in which students of every demographic can be heard, even if we take one day to simply listen to what’s outside. At Wellesley, we continuously create a culture of speaking out, but not necessarily listening. Don’t misconstrue my words, I believe the ‘Trump’ ideology to be wrong and hateful, but we must prove why it is wrong and in an academic manner, if only to strengthen our own beliefs. However, there are several limitations to this method. America is not as educated as Wellesley, and many people face barriers to education which we have already overcome. Looking outside of the liberal bubble requires removing the goggles of liberal academia.
Peering outside the liberal bubble is also a personal matter. Reading the same news sources and opinions only strengthens the fortress in which we live and doesn’t provide the reality check that most liberals need. Naive readings of the country led an overconfident assumption that Clinton would win and an underestimation of the situations outside of liberal strongholds. Many liberals were astonished that America could elect such a man, but some were not. Many minorities know the America that does not want them, loud and passive in its efforts. Those struggling to get by in metropolitan areas understand the pain, sacrifice and desperation of those in the same position in more rural areas. No, we do not need to remove our liberal bubble in a country where discriminatory behaviors were recently legitimized and validated. In fact, we need the protection of our bubble when incidents of hate are happening in our very own campus. We need the conjunct outrage and the fierce solidarity with each of our siblings. However, we need to understand the world outside of Wellesley and how we can make it a better place.