Ok guys. We’re going to have Trump in the White House, Republicans in control of Congress, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III as Attorney General. It’s a situation that almost nobody anticipated (though, cough… cough… I did warn about overconfidence last May) and none of us wanted, but we all have to deal with it.
Remember: in spite of everything, Democrats:
- Picked up seats in the Senate.
- Picked up seats in the House
- Won the popular vote in the Presidential election by at least 1 million votes.
- Four states voted to increase the minimum wage
- Nevada passed a universal background check for gun purchases
- Three states legalized recreational use of marijuana, and three more approved it for medicinal use.
Still, the horror is sinking in.
- Trump got his Twitter account back.
- Torture advocates could get for top national security positions.
- Paul Ryan thinks he will finally get to kill Medicare.
And yet… there is an energy out there like I’ve never seen before. Complacency disappeared on November 9, 2016 after the lightning strike of an election surprise the day before. Suddenly, the folks who hadn’t taken active roles in the organizing work that builds coalitions and wins campaigns are ready to get busy.
They will not go gently into Trump’s vision of America.
We’ve experience a huge change on the right, but that victory was a tremendous wake-up call for those on the left. Across the state, people are organizing online and in person. New leaders are emerging. Each person has particular areas of concern, but all share the core conviction that we’re all in this together.
Benjamin Franklin said it best:
“We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
This is not the time for despair; it’s the time to look forward, form new coalitions, and work together. We need to tell the Republicans that if they come after one of us, they come after all of us. Right now, we are all Muslims, DREAMERs, GLBTQ citizens, immigrants, people struggling on fixed incomes, etc. They target one group, and we all rise up in protest. We are the majority, but we have to show up, be heard, and not let the Republicans set the parameters for the conversation.
Let me share parts of this beautiful essay from Howard Zinn. He reminds us that the power to change is always there for the taking. We just have to have faith, get up, and get moving:
I have tried hard to match my friends in their pessimism about the world (is it just my friends?), but I keep encountering people who, in spite of all the evidence of terrible things happening everywhere, give me hope. Especially young people, in whom the future rests. Wherever I go, I find such people. And beyond the handful of activists there seem to be hundreds, thousands, more who are open to unorthodox ideas. But they tend not to know of one another’s existence, and so, while they persist, they do so with the desperate patience of Sisyphus endlessly pushing that boulder up the mountain. I try to tell each group that it is not alone, and that the very people who are disheartened by the absence of a national movement are themselves proof of the potential for such a movement.
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don’t “win,” there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope.
An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
And I’ll end with a quote from Galaxy Quest – hey, we can all find wisdom in unexpected places!
NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER!