The morning after this tumultuous election cycle finally ended, residents waited to see if chaos would unfold around them. Some took to the streets believing the power shift would spell the end of America and the unraveling of our country.
But the real power shift occurred the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 3, 1800, as the United States experienced its first peaceful transition of power – between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.
The election of 1800 is extraordinary in that it was the first major shift in American political power not to be marked by extended violence, conflict or loss of life.
A peaceful transition of political power is something that has long since been integral to the democracy of the American Republic.
It speaks to the great unity that America has always relied on, a unity that is currently threatened, but one we must retain if we are to move forward.
Now here we are in 2016 with people protesting in the streets, wasting tax dollars and law enforcement resources, and halting our freeways that everyday workers and emergency services need – all because some people were unhappy with the result of an election.
There is no legitimate reason to protest; the president-elect hasn’t even been given a chance to lead. Yet protest they did with bitterness and vexation.
At my university, too, I was routinely stopped and grilled by student protesters who wouldn’t let students pass in an attempt to shame all students who did not join them.
This is not the America that we were meant to have. America was envisioned as a strong republic, built on the rule of law and the idea that civilized politics no longer had to result in a loss of life or seizure of power by other means.
Unfortunately, we seem to be reverting to a pre-1800 frame of mind when it comes to our transfers of power.
This, I would argue, is the result of years of identity politics driven at pointing out what divides us, rather than what unites us as Americans. Gender, race, religion, ethnicity – all have become things used to create pocket identities that strip away from a greater American identity.
A few days ago, a man by the name of Richard Spencer held a convention during which he espoused “white nationalist” ideas and claimed to be a representative of the “Alt-Right.”
In this conference he used much of the same style of rhetoric used by those on the left, claiming whites needed a (safe) space for themselves.
This is not what conservatism or the right in America stand for – Trump’s victory is a testament to the fact that Americans are sick of identity politics ripping us apart.
Strategists and lobbyists like Richard Spencer from both the left and the right not only create separate ideas about our allegiance and who we identify as our group, but also create antagonists for our group to direct its anger against.
If you’re a woman, then it is the white heterosexual men who are the reason for your ills. If you’re a person of color, then it is all those of European ancestry who can be blamed.
Or if you’re white, then you need to be separate from the “other,” as Spencer puts it.
This creates the conditions in which people stop viewing the election as a democratic and peaceful transfer of power within their own country, but instead see it as a hostile takeover by whatever “other” wins.
“The New Right,” a term that I believe most accurately describes the conservative political movement of the youth, sees that these identity politics have failed us and will only continue to lead us down a dark and desolate path.
Conservatism is not about trying to relive the past, but about making us remember the fundamentals our society was built on.
It is about reinvigorating those fundamentals in an effort to create a country of people who aspire to something greater than themselves.
Identity politics seeks to divide and conquer us.
The New Right is here to make sure we are united and strong.
Erick Werner is a West Ranch alumni, Santa Clarita resident and university student.