BY MOHAMMAD RAHMATULLAH
Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States of America Nov. 9 in a stunning upset that surprised pundits, pollsters, and the American public and many on campus at The County College of Morris are reeling from the unexpected outcome.
“I’m a bit shocked,” said Angelica Garcia, an early childhood education major. “I definitely predicted Hillary would win, for obvious reasons…but she didn’t.”
Polls leading up to Election Day showed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading by a sizeable margin. Presidential forecasts by FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post showed her odds of winning to be 71.4 percent, 85 percent, and 98 percent, respectively.
Many students are struggling to come to terms with Trump’s election, citing his temperament and lack of political experience as a matter of concern. Trump has never held public office and had only run an unsuccessful bid for the Reform Party’s nomination in 2000 prior to his 2016 campaign.
“Donald Trump won because the country wanted a meme for a president,” said Adina Kohn, a multimedia major. “That’s basically all he is. He’s audience pandering, he’s very childish at the podium, and he always has to find a reason to place blame on somebody, even if there’s no blame to be placed.”
Others found Trump’s mixed messaging during campaign to be a symptom of his inexperience.
“His attitude was very wishy-washy from one debate to the next,” said Demylee Pablos, a hospitality management major. “It kind of hit me…he kind of doesn’t really know what he’s really doing right now.”
Pablos cited Trump’s erratic shifts in rhetoric as a source of confusion. She said the contrast between the bombastic language Trump used towards the Mexican government early in his campaign and the muted pleasantries he offered Mexican President Nieto following their August meeting are a sign that Trump himself may not be sure which policies he will pursue once in office.
Trump first announced his proposal to build a 40-50 foot high, 2000 mile long wall on the US-Mexico border, estimated to cost $25 billion by the Washington Post, while campaigning July of last year and has made it a key point of his campaign. Since his election, he has told CBS News that the wall may include “some fencing.”
Another glaring instance of Trump’s policy shifts include calling for women who seek abortions to be punished, before walking back the proposal hours later after facing intense bipartisan backlash. Many supporters of pro-choice policies found his decision to make such a proposal to be a major cause for concern.
“I’m scared for our country,” said Emma Enright, a criminal justice major. “[I’m scared of] the fact that he and all the Republicans he affiliates himself with are anti-abortion, so women wouldn’t have the right to choose.”
This pattern of ambiguous and rapidly fluctuating policy positions have left many voters uncertain of exactly where he stands on almost any issue and scrambling for clues as to which policies he will champion while in office.
Despite the nature of Trump’s campaign, many students are looking ahead with a sense of curiosity and intrigue as to what may come of his presidency. While some students are troubled by Trump’s lack of experience in public office, other students see it as a potential strength.
“He has no political or military experience, I am intrigued to see if he has a radically different perspective that can be beneficial to the country,” said Eric Cocozello, a liberal arts major. “Because if you go to a friend for help [with homework], it’s because they have fresh eyes.”
With Trump’s presidency set in stone, some students are now looking ahead to the future. Some feel that Congress will ensure that Trump’s policies are kept reasonable and measured.
“I’m praying that Congress is not going to allow any completely overly radical bills to be passed just by Donald Trump’s whim,” Kohn said. “I have faith that the Congress is gonna be able to control that and make everything reasonable.”
House speaker Paul Ryan told CNN journalist Jake Tapper during “State of the Union” that House Republicans are not “planning on erecting a deportation force” in response to statements made by Trump in recent days regarding mass deportations. Ryan then added that he hopes this “puts people’s minds at ease.”
“I’m not sure how it’s gonna turn out,” Pablos said. “I hope for the best but I’m not sure.”