How Donald Trump Changed Our Country and the Way I View The World

My family at Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.

In 2009, when I was four years old, my family traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration. At the time, I don’t think I even knew who Obama was, and I have very few memories of the event, however, I clearly remember the energy and the unrelenting hope and excitement in the air. 

I lived the next eight years in a relative state of bliss, despite being too young to actually comprehend or follow politics. I can tell you that I took those eight years for granted. In November of 2016, the fall of my seventh grade year, it came time for the country to elect a new president. I may have lacked political engagement at the time, but I, along with all of my family and friends, sat in front of the TV as Donald Trump’s electoral votes continued to climb. I clearly remember the next morning, I sat in my kitchen with my father as he delivered the news I knew was inevitable, Trump had been elected President of the United States. 

My mother, two of her best friends, and 12 year old me at the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017.

I once again returned to D.C. in early 2017, but for a radically different reason than I had eight years earlier. This time I joined my mother in protesting at the historic and massive Women’s March on Washington. I understood that Trump’s presidency would have catastrophic consequences, but at the time I wasn’t as politically conscious, and the true realities had not yet dawned on me. 

Over the next four years I grew up, I changed, and our country changed with me. While serving as president, Trump locked children in cages, banned Muslims from entering the country, and encouraged his supporters to violently storm the building which houses our democracy. His platform was established on his “success” as a businessman in our capitalist society, and his message was about tearing down marginalized communities to “make room” for his supporters. 

My formative education at a progressive school in New York has always taught me that discrimination is wrong and that we must fight to preserve equity and justice for all. Throughout the Trump administration, these beliefs held true for me. I learned about the circumstances leading up to the election, including the leaked audio of Trump’s vile dialogue regarding women. When I heard him say the words “grab em’ by the pussy,” it began to feel personal, as I felt personally attacked by the president of our country. However, despite my personal contention with Trump’s misogynistic words, I emerged in 2021 relatively unscathed. I am beyond lucky that I was not personally forced to confront the repercussions of the Trump administration’s racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic policies on a daily basis. 

As I matured, I developed not only an understanding, but an extreme interest in politics. As my fascination blossomed, I became enraged by the injustices within our political systems. My worldview was largely influenced by the actions of the Trump administration. It fundamentally challenged my lifelong beliefs, and I did not know how to make sense of the idea that my country could elect someone so vile. My faith in kindness, compassion, and even decency was jeopardized by the so-called leaders of our country. 

Audre Lorde from poetryfoundation.org

In my high school feminism course taught by Ileana Jiménez, we learned about Black feminist theory and how until all systems of oppression are abolished, there will never be true equity and justice. Through reading a variety of texts from influential Black feminist authors, scholars, and activists, we developed a more in depth understanding of intersectional and women of color feminisms. Part of our coursework included reading a series of essays from Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, including “The Master’s Tools will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” In this piece, Lorde addresses the all encompassing “master’s house” concept which is essentially a metaphor for our capitalist society, and how we cannot simply use the “master’s tools” provided by capitalism to try to abolish systems of oppression. As Lorde eloquently asks, “What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy?” 

Photo from January 6th Insurrection, Trump supporters’ violent attempt to stage a coup and uproot American democracy. (Photo from CNN)

Donald Trump is a domineering perpetuator of capitalism, having begun his career at the very pinnacle of capitalistic society, corporate America. Throughout his career, he utilized an uncanny amount of what could be considered master’s tools, perhaps one of the most notable being social media. Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump used Twitter in an effort to spread lies, propaganda, and discriminatory rhetoric. Social media has many upsides, as it has revolutionized the ways in which we communicate and spread information; it has essentially transformed my generation. However, it has many flaws as well, as social media allows for unfiltered and harmful messages to spread and essentially aided Trump’s efforts to mobilize his base and their disturbing attempt to overthrow our democracy, such as what happened on January 6, 2021.  

Trump feels an unrelenting sense of entitlement. Entitlement to unrestrained power and even to unrestrained access to women’s bodies. He has never hesitated to voice his opinions and to encourage his supporters to do the same. This has had cataclysmic repercussions in our society. While witnessing Trump’s presidency was discouraging, it is something that I, and most other members of my community, watched from a critical standpoint. While I looked down on him, millions of others put him on a pedestal, wearing t-shirts with his face on them, traipsing around in bright red “MAGA” hats (“Make America Great Again”). 

The influence he gained was and still is dangerous. His destructive behaviors have become an example to others to perpetuate sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and even anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Now even in a post-Trump America, his supporters still feel as though their discriminatory behavior is condoned. They continue to claim, “If the President of the United States can do it, why shouldn’t I?” 

President Biden and Vice President Harris from Forbes.com

Having come of age under the Trump administration I, along with many of my peers, was eager for new leadership, and I diligently followed the 2020 election cycle. Indeed, I volunteered through phone and text banking. As young people, despite not yet being able to vote, it was important that we worked to preserve our democracy. Today, we are lucky enough to live under the new Biden-Harris administration. It is by no means perfect, but at least our TV screens and social media feeds are no longer overflowing with disinformation from the “leader of the free world” causing violent harm to marginalized communities. However, despite this victory, Trump’s presidency has had many lasting effects on our country. For example, there are seven conservative justices serving on the Supreme Court, jeopardizing fundamental human rights and our country has never been more polarized. 

Since the conclusion of our high school feminism course during this senior year of my high school career, my world view has shifted. I am now prepared to fight for social change from an intersectional standpoint, and to encourage others to do the same. I known that while each individual movement is important, we cannot simply fight for Black Lives Matter, or for women’s rights, or trans rights, or for the liberation of any other marginalized group, we must work to fight for everyone’s rights at once, because until every single person is free, we will not live in a truly equitable and just society. And now, more than ever, we must continue to fight to preserve our democracy because Donald Trump may be out of office, but the master’s house remains very much intact.

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