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November 16, 2016

Students across the U.S. react to 2016 election results

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After witnessing a particularly controversial election season and Donald Trump’s triumph over Hillary Clinton, many students around the country are still processing the results and what they will mean.

We asked high school students to reflect on this pivotal election and share their hopes and concerns for the months and years to come. Student Reporting Labs also asked students to create short video reactions, some of which appeared on PBS NewsHour last week.


I did not expect this to happen. I did not expect this kind of movement to arise in the country and I did not expect or want Donald Trump to win. I did not expect Donald Trump to tap into voters in this magnitude. I supported Hillary Clinton all throughout the election and certainly believed Donald Trump was not qualified to take this office. I believed he is someone who inspired fear, racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc. I did not buy his populist, nationalist and nativist rhetoric or his claims that he was a successful businessman.

I hoped this day would never come. However, I realize that Donald Trump is now our President-elect and despite being vehemently against him and his positions, I hope that he is a successful president. I think we should all hope for the best and unite around him as our president. I hope that he is able to serve all Americans and not discriminate against or foster policies against many of the people he so publicly disparaged during the campaign. I am still afraid of what the next four years will hold and whether Donald Trump will be a threat to our democracy and our core values, but I will give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt and I wish him and his Presidency well.

-Armand, senior at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California


I’m an 18-year-old first-time participant in the voting process. I became an adult a month ago, just in time to put my vote in for the numerous propositions and yes, for who I considered to be the most viable candidate to preside over the free world. Let me start off by saying that I am a Republican, an outlier where I’m from. I grew up idolizing Presidents Reagan, Lincoln and even Bush with their legacies ingrained in my head as I studied and observed the world around me. Needless to say, this election completely changed my perspective on the American political process. Being a vocal Republican throughout it all led me to become plastered with many labels. I was categorized as racist, privileged, misogynistic, xenophobic and downright hateful for eventually supporting my party’s choice for its presidential nominee. It’s been a taxing few months to say the very least, and despite the recent civil unrest among a vocal minority of Americans, I couldn’t be prouder of my country’s commitments to democracy and personal freedoms. I look forward to its future, because this commitment is resilient and knows no party: that is what makes America great.

-Kyle, senior at Alta Loma High School


The 2016 presidential election was vastly different from any other election cycle. Never before have any two candidates ever been so disliked by so many American voters. Donald Trump has never held any form of political office, and he is now our president-elect; Hillary Clinton is a seasoned female politician, yet she lost to a man with no experience — all due to political apathy. The election cycle is finally over and though I did not fully support either candidate, I do believe that Clinton was the lesser of two evils. I do not support Trump whatsoever, but I do respect the office of the presidency for all of the men that came before him. I truly don’t think much will change. The Senate is controlled by Republicans but they will not be able to get nine Democrats to switch in order to get 60 majority votes. Due to this, I believe the house will be in a deadlock and very little amounts of legislature will pass. When the congressional elections come, I think Democrats will be able to switch the Senate, resulting in a gridlock and a “place-holder” presidency.

-Maelin, senior at Alta Loma High School


This has been a captivating election among American history. There could have been a first for everything — first female president, first Jewish president or first Hispanic president. Instead, we got an aggressive, materialistic business tycoon with no political experience. Although Calvin Coolidge claimed “The chief business of the American people is business,” it’s not all about money and monopolies. Donald Trump does not represent the American people, the middle class or the melting pot of culture, nor does he represent marginalized communities. He represents greed, vast materialism, sexism and ignorance. I know Congress won’t let Trump execute all his plans, but he represents the face of the American people. I have been following Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders since announcing his campaign in May 2015. He sincerely stood for all social groups, the middle class and grassroots campaigning. Since he left the race after the California primaries, I didn’t stand with Clinton or Trump. While Clinton did have 40 years of political experience, I was not a fan of her copy-and-pasted policies from Sanders. She didn’t represent American women if she encouraged killing Middle Eastern women overseas. Overall, I hope Trump can step up his game these next four years.

-Ryann, senior at Alta Loma High School


This being the first election I get to vote in, I was super excited that Trump won, but I am sad at the country’s behavior. We have had these policies in place since the beginning of our country and never have we had temper tantrums at the result that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. I blame youth sports for giving everyone a trophy because no one has learned to lose.

In the near future I hope immigration policies change making it more difficult to be enter the country illegally. I also hope there is tax reform, so Americans keep more of their paycheck rather than the government taking more. All in all, I believe that this country is going to have a hard time seeing the good come out of this election because of the propaganda the media spewed in their attempt to ensure Hillary’s election. Trump is going to take down all the people who have made this country abandon the morals it began with. In doing so he may make people mad, but a good leader doesn’t care about making everyone happy. It’s about “making America great again,” so people’s grandchildren can prosper and still live in this great country.

-Taylor, senior at Alta Loma High School


There are a lot of people who are shocked over the results of the presidential election and many people have turned to social media and the internet to vent their feelings and concerns. Logging into social media the day after the election was absolutely overwhelming. Every single post was related to the election. Personally, I told myself to remain open-minded to the results of the election; both candidates had their pros and cons and nobody is perfect. I think that it is important for people to think about the positive side of having either candidate as president and be able to accept it. No matter what your political views are, you will end up making yourself miserable if you do not see the bright side of the situation. What concerns me is that there are so many American people rioting and refusing to accept the fact that Donald Trump is going to be our future president, when they haven’t even given the man a fair chance. I think it is important for people to have open minds and look at the positive side of situations and have the ability to see other people’s point of view.

– Devon, senior at Trumbull Career & Technical Center in Warren, Ohio


After this election, I have a lot mixed emotions. However, none of these emotions are fear. People are protesting in the streets, mostly young adults. They shout expletives directed towards President-elect Donald Trump. They say fear for their future. They call for the end of the Electoral College, overturning the results and they countdown to the 2020 election.

Although peaceful protests are a protected right, isn’t it un-American not to come together? Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” But still, many Clinton supporters refuse to listen to their former candidate’s call for unity. Even President Barack Obama hoped the best for the President-elect.

Protesters should wish the best for their next President. Hoping for our next leader to fail out of spite is just like being on a plane and hoping it will crash because you don’t like the pilot. If he goes down, we all do.

We should listen to the words of Clinton and Obama and not be fearful of our future. We should have faith in the checks-and-balance system our government has in place. America will continue under our new President.

-Nicholas, junior at Trumbull Career & Technical Center


Katie, a student at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah 


Jessica, a student at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah


Jacob, a student at L&N STEM Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee


Mike, a student at Fort Mill High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina


If you or your students would like to contribute thoughts on the 2016 election and what lies ahead, please contact Adelyn Baxter at abaxter@newshour.org. 

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