Statement on the Election of Donald J. Trump as President

Statement on the Election of Donald J. Trump as President

The democratic process has taken its course; Donald J. Trump has been elected our next president.  His victory in the Electoral College clearly establishes his presidency, but his significant loss in the popular vote underscores the deep divisions that scar the country.

While we recognize the outcome, we note that the campaign was filled with ugly, divisive rhetoric that pitted group against group and brought out the worst in many of our fellow citizens.  Since Mr. Trump’s election, there have been widespread reports of harassment of Muslims, blacks, women, and gays and lesbians in a manner suggesting that some believe the election granted license for such action; some of the harassers have explicitly invoked Mr. Trump’s name.

In his victory speech, Mr. Trump said that he intends to be “president for all Americans” and that it is “time for America to bind the wounds of division [and] come together as one united people.”  We urge Mr. Trump to act upon those words and to speak out, clearly and forcefully, in favor of those ideals and against the acts of harassment and intimidation that have been carried out in his name.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal, and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We worry that Mr. Trump called these rights into question during the course of the campaign.  We therefore look uncomfortably to the weeks and months ahead.

As teachers, we cannot expect students to live and work in a climate of insecurity about who they are and what they believe.  Such a climate chills the freedom of speech that is essential to learning and is, of course, the lifeblood of our democracy.  We are concerned that proposed changes in gun-carry laws that will bring more guns to campuses will only exacerbate the climate of insecurity and will undermine the process of teaching and learning.  We are concerned about the future of academic freedom and freedom of the press, which have contributed fundamentally to the vibrancy of American democracy and which Mr. Trump has called into question in some of his remarks.

As researchers and scholars who study social life, we worry that Mr. Trump has been so dismissive of facts in the course of the campaign.  It is encouraging that his first major policy proposal since the election, a $1 trillion infrastructure program that will create many well-paying jobs and rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, and tunnels, has had the support of informed observers across the political spectrum. We are deeply concerned, however, that during the course of the campaign Mr. Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax and threatened to abandon a number of measures of supreme importance for the future of life on the planet.  We urge Mr. Trump to reverse that unfounded position and immerse himself in the scientific literature on global warming.

More generally, Mr. Trump has suggested actions which would limit women’s health choices, dismantle the Affordable Care Act that has provided millions of people with health insurance that they previously lacked, ignore clearly documented biases in the administration of criminal justice, address illegal immigration by building a wall between the United States and Mexico, and compel Muslims to register as such with the government. 

In each of these areas, and others besides, we, as researchers, academics, and practitioners, should welcome the opportunity to offer our expertise to help ensure that the concrete measures taken in the coming days and months are conducive to serving the “millions of hard-working men and women who… want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their families,” whom Mr. Trump has said he wants to help.

We hope that many of you will join me and members of the ESS Executive Committee at a special session at the upcoming Annual Meeting of our society in February. There we will discuss with experts, colleagues, and students how our roles should take form.  The session will provide an opportunity for us to affirm that we will be watching carefully to see whether the new administration fulfills its promises to improve the lives of all Americans, and that we intend to respond forcefully where we believe his initiatives fail to fulfill those promises.

John Torpey, President

Eastern Sociological Society

November 30, 2016

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