This past Tuesday progressives in the United States suffered a debilitating blow. Donald J. Trump, national blow-hard and breathing pumpkin was elected as our president. The fact that this is real life is just beginning to sink in for me. That a full quarter of our country believed that this man is suited to lead anything other than mediocre companies built on the backs of small businesses he has screwed over is mind boggling to me. But the fact is, here we are, exhausted, terrified, angry, and broken.
Things that literally threaten the people I love:
- The repeal of Obamacare and the opportunity to have access to healthcare
- The overturning of Roe v. Wade and the resumption of illegal, and unsafe abortions
- The nulling of millions of marriages because gay marriage becomes illegal again
- The resumption of “Stop and Frisk” policing which unfairly targets the black community and has been deemed unconstitutional
- The condoning of the discrimination against Muslim-Americans
- Oh yeah, and we’re about to have a climate change denier head up the EPA
I have spent the last couple of days in mourning for my blissful bubble of blue delusion that assured me that we were fine, that we could not possibly go so far backwards as a country at this point. I mean, we elected Obama, for goodness sake! Obama, the president with an approval rating to rival that of Reagan’s! Obama who helped lead us our of our recession! Obama who fights for Planned Parenthood and renewable resources! Oh, my sweet, naive little bubble that blinded me to the very real danger my minority friends now find themselves in. I am ashamed of myself and I can only promise that going forward I will not let this happen again. I stand next to you eyes wide open and ready to defend your rights with what privilege and voice I have been given.
There has been so much anger, and rightly so. We are furious and we will protest and we will be heard. Trump will know that over half the people who voted in this election are not with him and do not stand with the vision of American that he and Pence have dreamed up. People say to get over it, that we are entitled millennials who are throwing tantrums because we didn’t get their way. Absolutely not. My country is inclusive and I will not accept the isolationist, xenophobic, gay bashing rhetoric that is currently being spewed by my opponents.
So what is my plan? What am I personally going to do to work back towards the my version of America? First and foremost I consider myself an anthropologist and a scholar. I find great comfort in books and expanding my knowledge, and that’s where I plan to turn now. I was not born into the working class. Though most of my family would be categorized as such, I am firmly a member of the bourgeoisie with a father who was a professor for 25 years and now works for the United Faculty of Florida, and a nurse mother. My bubble formed early on in our liberal household and has been maintained through my time as an actor in blue Chicago and a grad student in red Louisiana. I’m proud of the person I am today, but I’ve lead a sheltered life.
So I’m going to read about the working class. I’m going to read about rural America. I’m going to read about feminism. I’m going to read about racism. I’m going to read about the poor and the forgotten. And all the while I will be organizing and fighting against an agenda that will put us back 20 years. And I’m going to try and do this with a sliver of empathy for the people whose way of life is now dead. Make no mistake, Donald Trump lied to the factory workers of the Rust Belt. Perhaps a few factories would open, but they will be a shadow of their former selves with no unions to negotiate decent wages and benefits. These companies moved overseas because they didn’t want to pay their employees a living wage, do you think they’ll start now? So while I do not forgive or excuse their blind eye to the hate they elected, I understand their eagerness to accept empty promises.
Between now and our next election cycle one of the things we must not neglect is voter apathy. Only half of Americans eligible to vote actually executed that right. Isn’t that tragic? If anyone can be moved, it’s these citizens. Instead of getting mad when you find out they didn’t, take a moment to ask them why and actually listen. It’s easy to lump them into the same categories of the Trump supporters, and maybe deservedly so. They stood by and did nothing. But if we have a better concept as to why people do the things they do, we have more of an opportunity to try and inspire them to take an active part in our country.
This has been a bit rambling. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts and it has not been easy. I alternate between utter grief, raging anger, and flickering hope. Exhaustion’s in there too as I look at that uphill battle we now face and that glass ceiling that’s risen just a bit higher. It’s hard to go high when I so desperately want to go low. So let’s hold the DNC accountable for actively working against the most passionate and numerous of their electorate. Let’s work to protect our vulnerable. Let’s inspire a whole new generation of leaders to go forth and work towards our inclusive, loving dream for America.