In the weeks since President-elect Donald Trump’s historic win, I have tried countless times to think about any positive future effects of his impending presidency. As a natural activist for social justice and as someone who leans left, this has been nearly impossible. It seems every time I turn on the news, there is more speculation about his possible failures as president. Around every corner, there is another person ready to spout frustration about his win, or how he will fail America. And it is entirely understandable and rational to renounce his future presidency, or how he might belly-flop into the political waters of U.S democracy.
But here’s the thing: if he fails, we fail.
There are of course many aspects of our society that will experience the consequences of Trump’s presidency — that includes implications for immigrants, national security and international market systems.
However, one of the most significant pieces of this puzzle is our youth. It goes without saying that children are exceptionally impressionable and hold a lot of promise in our society. It should also go without saying that kids most often develop into the adults that raised them and become beings of their environment. If this remains true, which in many cases it does, then the next four years will be an important time for America’s youth.
In the next four years, our children will learn more about social justice and equality than any textbook could ever teach. If there are any positives about a Trump presidency, it’s that the presence of social protest and civil movements will send the right message to our youth.
Trump has undeniably changed the way we understand American politics and he has done so in the most outrageous fashion. Although his methods are unconventional, this is where he has succeeded and exactly how he won the U.S. presidential election. He spoke to the problems that people wanted our politicians to address and he used this to bring together large numbers of Americans.
Although he used hateful rhetoric and aggression to join together a mass of citizens, it was nothing if not successful. I will say this — Trump’s election is not the first time in history we have seen a non-politician rise to power through fear tactics.
As his aggressive methods to get into the White House fences were at times less than appropriate, they did what they were intended to do. He not only gathered large groups of people through hate, but conversely, also joined together mass numbers of people who denounced his ways — thus, the beginning of anti-Trump protests and movements such as #NotMyPresident. In this moment, we are now observing the very beginning of a national social change. For every one person who believes in exclusivity and promotes hate, violence and isolation, there are two more who do not.
This is the way our youth will view the world for the next four years. They will grow up watching a society that stands up against hate and prejudice — a society that encourages peace and equality. They will learn that what their president says is not always right and true and they will learn that social and political activism is not an inconvenience.
If our youth must be subjected to growing up in a world with political leaders who teach hate rather than love and violence rather than tolerance, then at least they will grow up in a society that will also teach them to combat these negative models. At the very least, they will grow up experiencing a world in which people come together to make change for the good of all.