Being a liberal high school student in Trump’s America

One WSS reporter discusses how Trump’s presidency has shaped her perspective on present-day America.


Maddi Shinall

The South Lawn of the White House, the summer after Donald Trump was elected president.

Natalie Dunlap, Reporter

The bell rang that autumn day and I giddily slid into my bus seat. I couldn’t wait to get home and watch TV. Not because I wanted to unwind and mindlessly watch a sitcom, but because I was about to tune into the most highly anticipated broadcast of the year. I was excitedly awaiting the results of the 2016 election. I was certain, like most of America, that Hillary Clinton would win. Donald Trump was inexperienced, disrespectful and inarticulate. There was no way voters would make him president. The U.S. was better than that.

On the ride home, I read an article predicting how the electoral votes would shake out. I thought to myself, It’s finally happening. By the end of the night we will have elected a female president.

I thought it would be a landslide. Instead, it was a trainwreck.

Nearly 63 million people voted for Donald Trump and the placement of these voters gave Trump the electoral win. Had they not seen the bus tape? Were they not offended by his mocking imitation of a disabled reporter? Did they not observe his comically bad responses in the presidential debates that SNL went on to immitate three times?

I was hit with the reality that millions of Americans were so determined to keep women out of the White House, immigrants out of the country and tax money in their pockets that they would elect the most unqualified U.S. president in history. It taught me that the privilege of a rich white man overshadows his actions, words and qualifications.


Stats form Wikipedia

It’s alarming when your history teacher asks the class to identify traits of fascism and you find connections between the characteristics of 20th century Germany and present day America. Or when the anxieties of nuclear destruction in the 60’s and 70’s have become relevant again, under a president that has access to a Twitter account that he uses to insult foreign leaders. Seeing a reflection of a dark past in the present world is eerie and especially troubling when you can’t even use this information to vote yet.

Not having a vote is even more frustrating for in the era of mass shootings when you spend seven hours in a school. The opinions of high school students and faculty should be at the center of the debate on gun control, because they have become victims of gun violence time after time. Instead, the opinions of survivors are discarded because of their age.

Teens are faced with generalizations from adults that we are all superficial and can’t understand wider concepts. It’s like they don’t know we spend nearly a third of our day memorizing things like speciation and Sigmund Freud’s theory of personality. The opinions of teenagers should be respected, because in a few years we’ll be able to vote. Instead of brushing the ideas of students aside, adults should have mature conversations with teens to help their worldview grow.

Growing up during the Trump presidency has taught me how important education and democracy is. Sometimes I’ll see a headline that strikes a nerve, but then I’ll skip the article because I don’t want to spend the mental energy stressing over Trump’s Twitter wars developing into actual wars. I will choose to be ignorant about the issues because I don’t want to make myself anxious. However, turning a blind eye to political events is not the responsible thing to do. Voters and future voters alike need to be educated on the issues to elect rational and qualified candidates so we don’t make the same mistakes as the people in our textbooks.