Author: Atiya Irvin-Mitchell
Unpredictable. Traumatic. Discriminatory. Unprecedented. Those are the words alumnae, students, and faculty have used to describe the impending Trump Administration. In the days that followed the news of who the country’s next president would be, waves of shock and disappointment were felt throughout Chatham’s campus. President Finegold sent a campus-wide email of reassurance, some took the day off, the Carriage House’s lounge became a designated safe space; but life goes on.
So what does this mean? What will the next four years look like? How did we get here? Those are questions the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics traditional Post-Election Panel tried to answer on November 10. For a group of people whose feelings of disappointment hadn’t quite worn off.
The panel consisted of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Chris Potter, Christine Toretti of the Republican National Committee, Abby Phillip of the Washington Post, and Allegheny Country Democratic Committee Chair Nancy Patton Mills.
The PCWP is non-partisan organization and aimed to present an analysis of what is, what might be, and why for those in mourning and those celebrating. Before the discussion commenced Brown implored the audience to remain civil.
She relayed data involving the election results and demographic information about how certain groups voted. Paying special attention to how women who ran for office fared on November 8, she recounted the losses and victories.
“There will 9 new women of color, which, for those of us who care about women in politics, that is a bit of a silver lining,” Brown noted. “Taking a look at our commonwealth we still have a lot of work to do.”
Once the data was explained some of the questions Democrats’ minds were asked: Why wasn’t Hillary Clinton elected? What did voters see in Donald Trump? And where does the Democratic Party go from here?
“I really believed I would come here for a celebration,” Mills somberly admitted to the audience. “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, as far as I’m concerned she is my president. “
Mills said that President Elect Trump “lied” his way into the oval office and took advantage of working people.
“There’s not going to be a wall,” she said.
From the perspective of someone for whom Trump’s victory was cause for celebration, Torretti added that some female voters found President-elect Trump more trustworthy than Secretary Clinton.
“I think that at the end of the day I think he represented change,” she said.
Not everyone agrees.
“I don’t trust him at all,” Megan Cooper, a junior currently in Army training, said when asked about her faith in the soon to be Commander-in-Chief. “Obviously I’ll do what is required of me but only to the limit that my mortality extends. We’re only required to follow moral and ethical orders so if he hands down as commander-in-chief orders that I don’t find ethical or moral I’m not gonna be obligated to follow that.”
When talking more about what went wrong with the Clinton campaign and within the Democratic Party, Chris Potter said they failed to give voters enough to vote for and not simply against. He also said that the party failed to connect with the working class.
“That was really a message: ‘get a load of this guy’ or ‘look at what this guy said’,’” the reporter observed. “You can do that for a while but that can’t be it.”
Potter said that former factory and mill towns would see little change.
“There is no economic reason for the steel mills to come back to Pittsburgh,” he said.
According to a poll referenced by Brown, 70 percent of voters felt that Trump had a negative relationship with women.
In regard to the 2005 leaked tape of President-Elect Trump and Billy Bush some panelists wondered why this didn’t cost him more female voters. Others did not.
“What I actually found more offensive than the tape was that after the tape was leaked I got a call from a Politico reporter; I found it more offensive that he repeated it, and used word in asking me for a response,” Torreti said.
This caused some uproar from the audience. One member in particular, Pam Lundin, felt inclined to confront Torretti from her seat. Director Brown implored all those in attendance to remain civil.
“I couldn’t contain myself,” Lundin said when asked about her outburst. “She was saying that she was okay with that language and grew up with that language, but all of a sudden when somebody just repeated what someone else said then it was offensive. It just defied logic to me.”
From a public policy standpoint, Brown said that citizens could expect a very strong conservative movement, but not without potential for disagreement among Republicans. “We have Donald Trump, who’s a populist conservative, and Speaker Ryan, who’s an establishment conservative running a House with a pretty strong Freedom Caucus,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to find out which conservative agenda they’re gonna go with.