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Election 2016: Mixed Emotions from Iowans


In Des Moines, an elementary school teacher reports that a student on the playground hugged her and said she'd be missed if the student's family got deported back to Mexico, and in Cedar Rapids, the Islamic Center is providing counseling for young women struggling with whether or not to continue to wear hijab. 

But in other parts of the state, Iowans are excited about the changing political tides. During this hour of River to River, we hear from a handful of Iowans who are digesting the results of Tuesday and asking themselves, "now what?" 

Imam Hassan Selim is Imam at the Cedar Rapids Islamic Center and the Vice President of the Interreligious Council of Linn County:

"Initially the reaction as one of dismay, perhaps disbelief, horror, fear, mixed with some sadness. That was the initial reaction. Of course, we’ll have to accept the results of the democratic process... Women who are dressed in Muslim headscarves are easily targeted, but also generally the idea of the absence of trust. This is something we will have to be facing and dealing with. I’ve been doing a lot of counseling with the younger members of the community, helping people to make sense of this."

Diane Gibson is a high school social studies teacher at Perry High School:

"We had very mixed emotions in my classroom. You could clearly see who was a Trump supporter and who wasn’t. Some students came into class really worried about their parents. The day before, we were talking about the national polls and what they were saying, and I was telling them that the polls were probably closer than what they were showing us. I really honestly didn’t think it would go the way it did. I was surprised when I woke up at around 2:00 a.m. and seeing headlines for President Trump."

Catherine Lyons is a fifth grade teacher at Morris Elementary School in Des Moines:

"We did a mock election, and my class overwhelmingly voted for Clinton. The reaction was really subdued. My students were talking about it with anxiety asking a lot of questions about “what does this mean?” I had a student hug me on the playground yesterday and say he’d miss me if his parents were deported."

Marvin Johnson is a Trump supporter from North Iowa who is former chairman of the Hancock County Republicans:

“I think they’ll get a lot done, I don’t think they’ll cram stuff down people’s throats. I think we just need to get this country back to where it should be. There’s too much political correctness going on, and I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Bob Vander Plaats is president of the family leader:

“If they’re offended by his remarks about women and other groups, that’s okay. I think that’s a right feeling about being offended and even verbalizing that offense. We don’t want our leaders to respond in negative ways towards any group. We want all Americans to be respected and to be uplifted.”

“But my comment to them would be, you know, give him a chance. I know him on a personal level. I believe he is a very, very good person, who like many of us, does wrong things once in a while. And when we do wrong things, we should have people holding us to account. He is surrounding himself though, I think, with excellent people.”

Dan Durant was a Gary Johnson supporter from West Des Moines:

“Somewhere in the last 16 years, we’ve lost unity in the country. We came together after 9/11 as a nation for a couple of years, and since then we have become increasingly divisive. I hope that Donald Trump and Mike Pence can heal it, and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. I hope that they can work with the Democrats in Congress to create some sort of unity in this country, but this just didn’t happen in the last year and a half. This has been going on for a very long time. Which is sad. It’s not the country I grew up in.”

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River