Opinion: After the storm

Jenna Kuczkowski

Editor’s note: Jenna Kuczkowski is a guest columnist currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She shares her perspective on the presidential election from an international stance.

I’ve never dreaded waking up so much until Nov. 9.

Despite it only being 2 a.m. in the United States, it was already 8 a.m. here in Italy: When I awoke, Republican nominee Donald Trump was about to clinch the 270 electoral votes needed to officially win the presidency. Forty minutes later, he had done it.

Suddenly the joke of staying in Italy after this semester if Trump won wasn’t funny anymore. A lot of students here in Florence — as well as myself — were struck with a cold, hard reality that we couldn’t quite comprehend. Some students cried, others sat in the silence from the resonating shock, and we were all left dumbstruck in a foreign country looking in from the outside.

The most interesting part of Wednesday, though, was going to class and hearing what our Italian professors had to say to us. I personally expected criticism, but what we received was hope.

One line really struck me: “You can grieve today, but tomorrow you must react and be the change you want to see.”

I couldn’t agree more with that, and it got me thinking about how important the days that follow this will be. I think what we should begin to do is ask ourselves, “Why did this happen?”

And I’m not talking about playing the blame game and pointing fingers at Trump supporters, third-party supporters or any other group of people you feel is responsible for the outcome of this election. Because no matter what, Trump will be our president. This is a safe assumption before we start planning where we go from here.

I think we need to take what we have learned though this election, like the importance of voter education, and let it serve as a wake up call to us. These next four years are critical, and it’s important that this outcome doesn’t deter or distance us from political involvement. Someone phrased it perfectly to me when they said, “The more difficult the situation is, the more involvement that is needed.”

We need to make sure we stay active if we want to see change, so get ready.

The midterm election is on November 2018, and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for contest, along with 33 Senate seats. If you don’t like how the election turned out, do some research on what happens next. Let’s show the country and the rest of the world that knowledge is in fact power.

Now is our time for action.

Jenna Kuczkowski is a guest columnist, contact her at [email protected].