The independent news organization of Duke University

One year later

One year ago, after months of divisive rhetoric and troubling headlines during his election campaign, Donald Trump shocked the world by becoming the 45th President of the United States. Duke students, like so many others, spent that fateful evening crowded together around television screens and laptops to watch states turn blue and red as votes were tallied into the early morning hours. Now, more than 365 days since that night, Americans are faced with a country and federal government that looks vastly different from the previous administration. With this important anniversary behind us and new sets of challenges likely waiting on the horizon, it’s worthwhile to reflect on how our nation has transformed and what this presidency has meant for America so far.

One of the most memorable and often reiterated promises Donald Trump based his campaign around was an oath to construct a massive wall on the US-Mexico border. While this pledge has thankfully yet to actualize, the administration's executive order enforcing a refugee ban and plan to end the popular Obama-era program, DACA, have brought major shifts in immigration policy into fruition. The Affordable Care Act, which has been under fire from conservatives since its inception, was facing an uncertain future under Donald Trump and garnered considerable national attention and intra-party clashes. President Trump’s first year in office also witnessed the tragic aftermath of a Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, a devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico and a very public sparring session with NBA players on twitter. Additionally, Trump’s unorthodox foreign policy decisions also drew much ire from the public. Continuous spats with world leaders, tense threats exchanged between nations and a withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement were some of the most notable events characterizing the president’s international relations. And, through all of these stories and controversies, a CIA investigation of the administration's collusion with the Russian government progressed steadily in the background.

After the election results were finalized, Editorial Board released a three part editorial over the following days in an attempt to make sense of the outcome. Like so many other outlets at the time, the Board’s discussion were pessimistic, dismayed and chastising. These edits cited disappointment in the election, the lack of progress for certain groups and the dissension between the two parties. The analysis and commentary engendered a type of fearful uncertainty that was radiating throughout the campus at the time. In numerous ways, that apprehension was entirely justified and necessary. The administration has lived up to a number of the fears that countless citizens had and continues to threaten the lives and safety of so many. However, the mobilization in vulnerable communities and the organized movements against some of Trump’s most prejudicial and harmful policies have been nothing short of inspiring. Neighborhoods, towns and even entire states have pushed back against injustice in large and visible ways. These moments of resistance have truly been reaffirming surprises in an otherwise bleak presidency.

In the first fourth of Trump’s administration, this country has seen public displays of violent hatred and continued threats against the most marginalized manifest in frightening new ways as a result of the election. Fortunately, however, there has also been truly brave acts of solidarity and community defense that have redefined that ways that this moment in history will be remembered. If the tribulations and chaos of the past year serves as any indication of the days to come, the American public still has many hurdles to face. Although, continued endurance and resistance that have been displayed under these difficult circumstance also tell a narrative: one of courage and unity. Which, is what we’ll need in order to make it through the next three years together.


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