In the months leading up to the election, both my mom and my dad said to me in separate phone calls from Canada, “I think he might win.” In conversation we used the man’s name but I refuse to do that here, to taint this space with the name of a misogynist, a racist, a liar, an abomination. Both my parents followed the campaign and they were both concerned. But each time I responded with an adamant no. “It won’t happen,” I said. “A country that elected Barack Obama twice won’t elect this man. It’s not possible.”
On the night of the election I shared a photo on facebook of Hillary Clinton in a suit and rainbow sunglasses, riding a unicorn. “Let’s do this,” I wrote. Here was a woman who had spent her life serving others, a Yale-educated lawyer who worked with disabled kids while at the Children’s Defense Fund, who became the First Lady, a two-term Senator of New York, and the U.S. Secretary of State. I had watched her opponent, a narcissist with limited intellect and zero political experience, slag her repeatedly to his followers, physically stalk her on a debate stage, struggle to speak in full sentences, and spew hate and ignorance and lies over and over again, encouraging his followers to do the same. I had watched him mock and demean women, people of color, a disabled man. I had heard the tape of him bragging about sexual assault, and then after, the voices of his supporters defend him. I was disgusted. I was ready for the country to vote and in doing so to silence him, to show the world that this isn’t who we see as a leader, that this isn’t what we want for our future.
When the ballot counts started rolling in, showing “larger numbers than expected” for the appalling Republican nominee, I stayed in denial as long as possible. I kept thinking there would be one or two swing states where Hillary would come out ahead and turn it all around. It never happened. My friend Dianna called from Portland, where she was watching the election with three other friends. I tried to speak to her but started crying immediately. I never really recovered from that moment. I still haven’t.
Something inside me shifted on November 8th, and there is no going back. That this country could elect such a hateful, inexperienced, and downright dangerous man over a strong, smart, incredibly highly-qualified woman who has dedicated her life to public service revealed to me how deeply ingrained sexism is in our culture. He is so far below the standard of what we should expect in a leader, yet managed to win anyway, while she was held to an impossible standard (made worse by the media’s shameful false equivalency), as women have been throughout history. This enraged me.
All of the concerns I had before the election, about poverty and mass shootings and the planet warming, about kids with no home and refugees with no country, about discrimination and health care costs and white supremacists and reproductive rights, about unarmed black men and women being killed by police, about rape culture and oil culture and political greed, about terrorism and war and the threat of more war — all of it has been magnified. I can’t look away and hope it will get better. It won’t. Under the new administration, made up in large part by racist, climate-change denying men who want to dismantle much of Obama’s legacy, it’s going to get much worse.
But if we come together, I believe we can mitigate the damage. In two years, with a lot of effort, we can take back the House. In four years, we can elect a new president. And along the way, we can further educate ourselves about issues that matter to us, and work to support each other and the people in our communities who are most vulnerable.
November 8th was an awakening. We need to stay awake, becoming not just engaged but involved, the way activists in this country have been doing long before the confluence of ignorance, sexism, racism, fake news, Russian hackers, and a billionaire with tiny hands and a big mouth stole the election from what should have been our first woman president, who won the popular vote by 2,864,974.
This is why I marched.
Living in a new city where I don’t know many people, I have felt somewhat isolated while grappling with the issues and emotions of the current political climate. But I know that becoming active starts in your own community, and even if it doesn’t quite feel like home yet, Vallejo is my community. So in December I completed training to start volunteer work with a local hospice called Continuum Care. And last week Joe and I went to UC Berkeley for a one-day conference put on by the Center for Political Education. It was called People Get Ready: Building Resistance in the Trump Era. (Ouch, his name has now appeared here. Last time, I swear.) I learned about the conference through a national organization called Showing up for Racial Justice, which mobilizes and educates white people “to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.” I get their weekly newsletter, which lays out all kinds of opportunities for getting involved.
At the Women’s March on Washington, this group of women from all different states sang a beautiful song called ‘I Can’t Keep Quiet’. If you haven’t yet watched and heard this, please do. (And if you have, you probably want to again, right?)
I can’t keep quiet either. There is too much at stake. Let’s get loud!
If you live in the US, these Daily Action Alerts make civic engagement easy. (So far I have called Paul Ryan and Kamala Harris — took literally one minute each time.)
The Women’s March has started a campaign called 10 Actions/100 Days. Seeing the astounding numbers of people who peacefully marched all over the world was so inspiring. I’m looking forward to being a part of this movement and helping it grow.
And Indivisible is a step-by-step guide for resisting the new president’s agenda, written by former congressional staffers who know how to make Congress listen.
Did any of you go to a March in your area? I would love to hear about it! (We marched in Oakland with a crew of Joe’s classmates and 60,000 other folks. It was so uplifting.) xox