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The Morning After

Springs students woke up in two different worlds after the results of the 2016 presidential election.

AP Photo/John Locher

AP Photo/John Locher

Ramishah Maruf, Editor-in-Chief

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The first few seconds after Sabrina Jairam woke up on November 9, she forgot.

She blinks her eyes, stretches her arms and then, suddenly, the memories came rushing back.

She remembers the late hours into the night, pizza crusts and forgotten homework strewn across the living room as she anxiously watched CNN with her brother. She entered the night with optimistic thoughts, she said. Hillary Clinton was ahead in all the national polls. Donald Trump had only won small, Midwestern states. She hoped the states that are reliably Democratic would help Clinton squeak by a victory.

 Then, she watched in shock as the map turned red. North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio and finally, Florida. Donald Trump, the man she bitterly contested for almost a year now, was now president.

It’s November 9, the election is over and the country must move on and accept its presidential elect. Jairam’s day will go on as usual: she’ll get up, brush her teeth, head out to her Wednesday classes and then her evening shift at Kumon. But she spends those first few minutes lying in bed, contemplating her future in the country she was born and raised in.

 “I’m a woman with brown skin,” Jairam said. “I was scared to leave my house and go to school that morning.”

It’s a stark contrast to the way Oscar Lozada’s day started. He runs down the hallways of Coral Springs, announcing his jubilation in the hallways, classes and cafeteria.

 “Trump won! He won!” he said.

 Some students celebrate with him, but many jeer and glare – a handful even yell back obscenities.

Lozada didn’t care. Trump was a candidate who spoke to him and his military family’s ideals. He may be crass, but he spoke the truth, and that’s the reason why Lozada spent hours campaigning for him, several AP Government classes defending him from staunch liberal classmates and staying up until 3 o’clock in the morning to watch his victory on election night.

 “Elation and relief,” Lozada said. “That was election night for me.”

A world away

 Both Sabrina Jairam and Oscar Lozada walk the same hallways. They share mutual friends. They live only miles apart, yet in their eyes have never lived in two more different worlds.

 Lozada’s world viewed the results of election with jubilation and hope. Their needs were ignored in President Obama’s globalized, fast-paced society, and they finally found a leader who would slow it all down for them – a leader who could bring light back to what Lozada felt was a forgotten shadow of the electorate.

 Then there was Jairam’s world. She said she was fearful, even petrified. The inhabitants of her world phoned immigration lawyers and religious leaders. Fears that they had pushed aside for years had finally come out in the open – Jairam felt she was an outsider, and she had no place in Trump’s America.

America is wading into murky waters. Both worlds are looking into the future of their countries and livelihood with uncertainty, and according to Lozada, handling the repercussions of the emotions revealed during this election may be the most difficult part.

 “We can take two paths, we can either fight the problem and come to a conclusive decision… or we can continue fighting and bickering,” Lozada said. “If [our generation] doesn’t solve these problems, our country won’t last another 250 years.”

We can take two paths. We can either fight the problem and come to a conclusive decision… or we can continue fighting and bickering.”

— Oscar Lozada

A military tradition

 When was America great? It was a defining question for the presidential campaign.

 For Lozada, the answer was easy.

 America was great in the 30’s, where Mexicans came to work farm jobs on six month visas and the government could control who stayed and for how long. It was great in the 50s, when the U.S. was the center of the world economy and consumerism was as rampant as ever. It was great in the 90s, when Bill Clinton’s tax cuts led to an economic boom. Trump is going to be the candidate who will bring it all back.

Lozada comes from a military family. His father fought in the Gulf War, his grandfather in Vietnam. He plans on attending West Point, a federal service academy in New York. It’s where his ardent support for Trump stems from – unlike Clinton, Trump will cut from obsolete federal programs and funnel it towards upsizing the military. National security must take precedence.

Trump may be aggressive, but he addresses the problems that Lozada believes in.

Hillary Clinton? “She’s a criminal and deserves to be punished for lying and sacrificing national security,” Lozada said. Abortion? “The first trimester is enough to know you’re pregnant with a child. After that, you’re killing a citizen of the United States.” Taxes? “Cut them. The middle class pays most of it and we don’t even benefit from where most of the money goes to.”

A future to believe in

     Jairam was a Bernie Sanders supporter, the progressive candidate who caught millennials by a storm with promises of free college tuition and environmental protection. Hillary Clinton did not stand for her generation’s ideals, and she considered at one point voting for a Republican.

     That is, until Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee.

     She had brown skin, would he consider a terrorist? She was the child of immigrants, would Trump accept her heritage? Most importantly, she was a woman, and for Jairam, everything changed when Trump’s comments on Billy Bush’s bus leaked, where he claimed to grab women by the crotch. To her, it’s not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a moral issue: she knows plenty of male friends, family and classmates – none of whom would ever disrespect her.

     “I don’t understand how someone could support that,” Jairam said. “I don’t talk to some of my friends [who support Trump] about politics because I know it would ruin our relationship.”

R. Maruf

A way to heal

     Lozada arrives to school that week wearing his JROTC uniform proudly. He stands up straight for the Pledge of Allegiance, because, after all it’s a civic responsibility. It doesn’t matter to Lozada who gets elected; to him, America is still the greatest country in the world, defended by valiant troops who deserve its utmost respect.

     Then, he turns on the cable news, and sees videos of hundreds of citizens burning the flag.

      “They need to suck it up. You can’t cry because your candidate lost. He did nothing illegal,” Lozada said. “When President Obama was elected people weren’t burning cities or blowing things up. I understand that this election was controversial but the best thing [the protesters] can do is support the president-elect.”

     It’s difficult for Jairam and other Clinton voters to stand behind Trump, a man she says doesn’t represent the same country she does. But there is one fact that she can agree on: If Trump fails as a president, the country fails.

     “I like to think of it this way,” Jairam said. “If Donald Trump is the captain of a sailboat and we’re passengers, you don’t want him to steer the wrong way, because we’re all on the same boat.”

     This election strained relationships and evoked emotion Jairam never thought she had. She admits that it will be difficult to stand behind Trump, but it’s crucial the thousands of protesters across the nation understand the reality of the situation.

     “We can’t sink ourselves to the level of the Trump supporters,” Jairam said.

A lesson learned

     Jairam goes to her teaching internship at an elementary school the morning of November 9. The room of eight-year-olds couldn’t stop talking about the president-elect. Some, to Jairam’s shock, were in Trump shirts.

     They ask her what she thinks. It’s hard, she says, not to indoctrinate the children. She wants to explain why she thinks he’s an embarrassment, incompetent, a fraud – that it’s up to their generation to prevent a man like him rising to power again.

     Instead, she pulls out an interactive activity on the branches of government. With no allusion to the results of last night, the class carried on its civics lesson as normal.

     It was time to move on.R. Maruf

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