Protests broke out across several American cities following the election of Republican maverick Donald Trump as the US President on Tuesday. Demonstrators marched to or gathered in front of Trump properties in New York, Chicago, Washington DC and other cities holding posters saying ”DumpTrump” and ”No More Racism.” They chanted ”Not My President!” which quickly became a social media #hashtag.
The largely peaceful protests by Democrats and civil liberties activists, many students among them, came despite conciliatory speeches from the principals — Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, President Obama among others –pledging to work together, with the latter three urging Americans to accept the results.
But protestors, including entertainers Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus in New York, raged against Trump and the system that allowed him to become president on the basis of an Electoral College majority, despite getting less popular votes than Hillary Clinton. There were renewed calls to scrap the Electoral College system, which also allowed George Bush to become president in 2000 even though Al Gore won more popular votes.
One of the popular social media tweets that went viral showed Trump himself rubbishing the Electoral College, calling it a disaster for America earlier in his campaign. The same Electoral College will formally choose him President sometime in December, before he is sworn in on January 20.
It is not certain if protests will die down or continue till then and beyond, given both the tradition and emphasis on a peaceful transition of power in America. Even George Bush was afforded that courtesy despite winning an even more controversial election via a judicial decision.
In fact, one of the popular themes in the urban civil society and Democratic outrage was how their candidates were robbed by the Supreme Court in 2000 and the by the FBI in 2016.
But Trump supporters ridiculed the protestors, calling them cry babies and asking them to accept the decision of the people in an election where voting was largely fair, although it was Trump himself who kept saying the system was rigged and there were balloting issues in the initial hours when everyone expected him to lose.
Trumpists also challenged the view that everyone who voted for him was racist.
”Voted for Obama twice. This time I went with #Trump. I guess I’m just another racist that helped elect the first black president,” tweeted one voter. ”This is one of the reasons Trump won. America is tired of turning on the tv and seeing BlackLivesMatter, Occupy movements etc.,” said another.
But Trump critics say the protests are not so much about the results of the elections as against some of the bigoted, sexist, xenophobic statements he has made, and an expression of concern over what kind of policies are in store to reverse course in a country that was becoming increasingly diverse, plural, multi-ethnic, and engaged with the rest of the world.
In one instance, Maha Abdul Gawad, a Muslim woman, related how when she came out of a WalMart, a woman came up to her, yanked her hijab (Islamic headdress), and said, ”This is not allowed anymore, so go hang yourself with it around your neck not on your head.”