A Culture of Fear: Why the Idea of a Trump Presidency Scares People

By Coral Nafziger

President Elect Donald Trump seems to inspire fear in a wide swath of people for a litany of reasons.

At SCC, fears associated with Trump’s presidency include, but are certainly not limited to, the threat of physical violence and harassment, the inability to afford necessary medical care and the denial of rights.

There is a lot to be said about how prejudices and hatred have always been a part of life for certain communities in America. However, it does seem that extreme behaviors have increased in the last couple of weeks.

Normalizing Antisocial Behaviors

Expressions of violence and hatred seem to be a big part of what scares people about Trump. By speaking in ways that many consider racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic, Trump has connected people who have similar views all across America.

Rachel David, who teaches in SCC’s department of gender and women’s studies, says that people are being shown that Trump’s disrespectful way of speaking is now not only acceptable, but also a way to be successful.

Terry Taylor from SCC’s political science department says that Trump’s campaign and election have normalized what he considers to be antisocial behavior. According to Taylor, this has emboldened people to act out in public in ways they would not have felt were appropriate before.

Freedom of speech, says Taylor, covers expressing many despicable things. The freedom of speech protects a lot, but it does not cover damaging property or making others unsafe.

Trump was confronted about the hate crimes and harassment he has inspired by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes. He responded by telling people to “stop it.”

Some on campus are encouraged by the instances in which Trump seems to have changed gears since the election. Many at SCC, though, believe he is being insincere, or lackluster in his protestation. Taylor mentioned that even if Trump wants his followers to change their behavior, he may not be able to reel them back in.

He’s a Wild Card

In addition to fearing Trump’s supporters, people in the SCC community are frightened of his policies. Because Trump has been vague about his policies and has proposed plans that are illegal, unconstitutional, or not within the president’s purview, many people do not know what to expect from him.

Taylor compares Trump with Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the three presidents before Trump to come into office without ever having held elected office. Taylor says that as commanding general of the army, Eisenhower was used to having his orders followed quickly and had to learn that presidents do not enjoy the same ability to make quick changes. Taylor says that Trump will probably encounter similar problems, due to his background in business.

Trump is a man with many opinions, but it is unclear what he wants to accomplish as president. For many at SCC, this uncertainty is terrifying.

He’s Not the Worst

I have watched a couple of people in the last week say that we should think about impeaching Donald Trump, only to recoil when they realize that would make Mike Pence our president. Many things about Pence cause fear at SCC, including his extreme conservatism and that he advocated reallocating funds from HIV research to conversion therapy for homosexuals.

Trump has also gotten to work appointing people to his transition team and his cabinet. According to Taylor, many of these people do not seem to understand how American government works. In addition to possibly being unqualified, some of these people also hold beliefs that many considered dangerous. Maybe the most controversial is Steve Bannon, Trump’s White House chief strategist, who has been called a white nationalist.

Taylor says he believes a person can’t entirely be judged by the company they keep, but Trump has made some interesting choices.

There are several different fears associated with the recent election. David says of the SCC community, “I think we just need to watch out for each other.”