Standing for the Dream

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This is a runner-up in our Teens Against Trump essay contest. Read more essays from the series here.

The United States has long been a nation that has thrived on various cycles. Economically, it has been boom-bust; in terms of immigration, it has been a revolving trend of which region of the world to restrict movement from; while looking at foreign policy, it is the dichotomy between interventionist methods and isolationist practices.

It is a combination of all of these cycles that Donald Trump has seized upon in his campaign for the presidency: capitalizing on all of the fear and loss that various citizens of this country feel and taking advantage, catapulting the uncertainty into the domestic policy sphere.

We are a nation with a history of taking our fear and discontent and making it malleable, molding it into something that could be formative and instructional to the world at large. One example? The Founding itself.

Yet the country's history is also full of mistakes: reparations aplenty for marginalized groups especially affected at various points, as well as a modern system that continues to target various peoples while wearing the shadows of its segregated past.

Our country -- our history -- is made up of both of these sides, and this upcoming election will provide grounds for the population to once again choose a path.

That potential starts with the primaries and caucuses, and affects those voters looking at a ballot whose names stand for hate: starting with Donald Trump.

It is a frightening time to be a citizen of this country. That is a certainty, as it is a changing time, and change will always elicit fear, same as it always has. Yet the only way to progressively move past that fear is to accept it: to make it our own as we cling to our identity -- the very identity that makes the country ours.

America has never stopped being "great," as the Trump campaign professes. It has never stopped being great because its power was never solely vested in those actions of foreign policy and demonstrations of might that help form its international image today. America was always great because of what it stood for: because the very merits that formed the American Dream all those generations ago were the same as the spirit of the words written into our Constitution. We were great because at that time, to be American was simply to believe in the American principles and to believe that the country would succeed, embracing change as it fought to live and to fight another day.

So yes, Americans are scared. Our world is changing and our country's standing in it is, as well. Yet the answer to this fear is not to retreat into isolation or to put up walls, whether from neighbor to neighbor or country to country.

Our answer must be to stand tall on our shared ideals: to remain open to one another and to others hoping to share in this Dream of ours -- not to embrace a candidate who stands for division and denial, the contradiction of that very Dream.

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