It’s still sinking in: President-elect Donald Trump.
Like their compatriots across the nation, La Cañada Flintridge residents are processing a huge range of thick emotions following the surprise ending of one of the United States’ most divisive presidential elections.
“We have a very diverse town,” Craig Mazin said. “I imagine that there are a number of people who are really happy about what happened and a number who are really upset about what happened.
“But what I’ve been telling everybody, including my children, is that in time, the strength of the emotions will fade and then all of us will approach this rationally but purposefully, whether it’s in support of or in protest of the government we now have.”
Mazin is a screenwriter who was, on Twitter, an outspoken and much-cited critic of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, his roommate in 1988 during their freshman year at Princeton. Mazin also has made no secret of how unimpressed he’s been by Trump.
So, for now, for Mazin, the shock remains raw: “I have never seen anything like this, nor have I ever had this response to any election.”
Gavin Williams, a teacher and leader of the peer-mentoring program at La Cañada High School, met the wide-ranging and very visceral reaction on campus Nov. 9 by preaching respect and engagement.
Williams described encountering LGBT students openly weeping and hearing misguided young men referencing Trump’s obscene line caught on the “Access Hollywood” tape. “I heard some kids say, ‘We should go to the protest,’ without even knowing why they’d go,” Williams said.
“But the best thing about being a teacher,” he added, “is that no matter what I believe and how I vote, there’s a way to help them understand: If you won, be a good sport. If you lost, also be a good sport.”
In concert with most of California, more LCF voters favored Clinton, with 56% casting ballots for her. A mock vote at the high school also resulted in a Clinton victory.
“The question,” LCHS Principal Ian McFeat said, “is how do we make our country better? Through democracy we make it better; through all of our students engaging in the political process — and not just relegating it to the presidency. There are many ballot initiatives as well that have impact, that they will feel more directly than even the presidential election.”
Mayor Jonathan Curtis also stressed the importance of local and regional government helping to shape the national conversation.
“Hopefully, regardless of who you voted for, people can unify and provide effective input to the new administration coming in,” Curtis said. “And a big part of that needs to be done through our own legislators. I’m very pleased and honored that Adam Schiff was re-elected, and that Anthony Portantino was elected to state Senate and that Laura Friedman is going to the Assembly.
“If you look at the local people representing this community, we have some very fine people to work with.”
Alex Keledjian, a Republican and the incoming chairman of the 43rd Assembly District Central Committee, said he was as stunned as anyone by Trump’s victory.
“I thought he was going to lose, and not only did he win, he swept the Rust Belt,” said Keledjian, who’s worked as an aide to L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. “I’m in shock.”
He’s also empathetic: “To the people who are angry, let me tell you, I understand. As a Republican in California, I am an expert at defeat.”
But this time he’s hopeful, and eager to see what develops.
“Now, pretty much, the Republicans are in control of the football,” he said. “They need to really, really make sure they hone down on the promises for better trade deals and making sure immigrations laws are addressed. It’s not just the Republicans controlling the presidency, but the House and the Senate, and they really need to make good on their promises. If they don’t, it’ll be a one-term president.”
Eliseo Medina, formerly the secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, is not nearly as optimistic.
“I’m trying to understand what America is thinking and I’m having a difficult time,” he said. “Every decision you make, there are consequences, and I’m not sure that people understand the potential consequences of electing Mr. Trump president, and I think they are going to affect each and every one of us.”
Long an immigrant-rights advocate, Medina warned that there could be a steep price to pay if Trump makes good on his promise to deport between 2 and 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“That could be between 3-5% of the American workforce,” Medina said. “And if those people are, all of a sudden, taken out of the equation because they’re all deported, several things happen: No. 1, it’ll cost billions of dollars to hunt down and pay for deporting all those people. And putting a wall up over 2,000 miles of borders will cost billions as well. And if we do spend those billions of dollars, how are we going to replace those workers? Are the people from Illinois going to move to California to work in 110-degree weather in Vallejo, Calif., picking the grapes at minimum wage? It’s totally unrealistic.”
Medina, who attended the Democratic National Convention this summer with his 18-year-old daughter, Lupita, is hopeful that Trump will focus instead on the part of his platform related to reducing income inequality.
Riley Owen, was at the Republican National Convention, working as a page. The 2016 LCHS graduate was mere feet away from Trump when he was awarded his party’s nomination.
Now a freshman at Princeton, being a Republican, even a progressive-leaning one, on the Ivy League campus can be somewhat awkward, Owen said. Still, he promises he appreciates the experience.
“It’s just a very different dynamic from La Cañada Flintridge,” Owen said. “I come from a slightly more conservative area of California, and coming here, people think differently than I do. And that’s a really cool thing.”
An aspiring Secretary of State who never has been impressed by Trump’s rhetoric, last week Owen said he was open-minded about what kind of thing a Trump presidency will be.
“He’s our president-elect, and regardless of what’s happened, I’m going to support him until he gives me reason not to,” Owen said. “I’m not supporting Donald Trump because he’s a Republican, but because he’s president of the United States, and that merits respect.”