This is a runner-up in our Teens Against Trump essay contest. Read more essays from the series here.
When Donald Trump, ultra-wealthy plutocrat and self-appointed man-of-the-people, won the New Hampshire Republican primary, it was, to many young people across the nation, one of the most dispiriting political occurrences in recent memory. Trump is running for president as, in the words of Jon Stewart, "America's id" -- the angry voice shouting at us, exhorting us to abandon our morals and "Make America Great Again," however unjustly. Deport the immigrants. Ban the Muslims. Torture the terrorists. To see voters reward him with a victory was unnerving in the least.
The reason for that dismay is that young people don't want to live in an America which has embraced its worst urges. Donald Trump's candidacy represents, as George Wallace's did less than half a century ago, our country's worst instincts: a tendency to villainize those we don't understand, a willingness to deny others the rights we grant ourselves, a propensity to slouch into crude Know-Nothingness. It is disheartening to see so many want to make the same mistake we've made before and embrace those traits, to watch so many citizens of a country ostensibly evolved past racism openly embrace a bigot.
But the support that Trump has enjoyed is only another chapter in a long American tale. The country has long been home to a battle between its values and its fears. We have always strived to embody the better nature enshrined in our founding documents -- a just egalitarianism, a respect for the faiths and thoughts of all people, an abiding belief in civil rights and liberties -- but are led astray by the politics of suspicion and hate. Our tempters have ranged from the infamous "Native American Party" of the 1850s to the McCarthyist movement a century later.
Yet every time America has proved itself better. We have, at the day's end, rejected the ugliness of ethnic division and religious prejudice as hostile to the very character of the country. Thus I am confident that Trump and what he represents won't succeed. The American people are too good to succumb to the raw anger that motivates his following.
Nevertheless, it is our duty as citizens, inheritors of the American legacy, to oppose his candidacy and the xenophobia and rage it speaks for. We cannot idle as hate prospers within our borders. The United States is a great nation because it has risen above the urge to renounce its principles to indulge bigotry, but to maintain this we must be vigilant. If young people don't do all they can, we might spend our next eight years in a land that has forsaken its values to satisfy its prejudices and fear, a moral carcass of what it once was.