Opinion: Today We Mourn. Tomorrow We Fight.

Ben Henry November 10, 2016 0
Illustration by Ben Henry

Illustration by Ben Henry

In light of the shock, horror, disgust, anger, sadness, and bewilderment we are feeling, I’d like to take this moment to offer both a heavy dose of realism and an infusion of hope.

But first, we must process. Right now, you may be wondering how your country has betrayed you. How you don’t recognize this America, how your own country folk have turned against you, very clearly stating that you are not welcomed here. But you should know that a majority of this country did not in fact choose hate and fear in this election.

“The people have spoken,” is a theme I’ve heard from some. But make no mistake, Donald Trump won by a technicality called the Electoral College. The people have indeed spoken—and Trump was not the candidate with the most popular votes.

Yes, it was shocking that it was even as close as it was. But do not despair the loss of your country, for the majority of Americans rejected the path of hate. So, remember, we absolutely are not alone in the wilderness in this moment.

Also be thankful that, here in Seattle, we live in a community with a very different vision for our country than that heartbreaking sea of red on that electoral map. In this moment, revel in community, strengthen your bonds, and tighten your connections.

I’m about to get into some harsh realities. Know that any great journey starts with a first step. Approach this challenge with humility, kindness to yourself, and in a healing posture.

No Sugarcoating—We Face a Tough Road Ahead

I’m sorry, we just can’t avoid this. It is hard to look at, but we must confront the terrifying reality before us with open eyes.

If Republicans and Donald Trump are to pursue their campaign promises, we could very well be entering into an unprecedented era of oppression. And other than Senate filibusters, there is nothing stopping the president-elect from fully implementing his agenda.

This is a man who has, in no uncertain terms, said he will actively target the most vulnerable among us and trample on the Constitution. With both chambers of Congress behind him, he will be entering office with unchecked power. And he’ll be able to stack the Supreme Court, courts of appeals, and district courts with his picks, meaning his legacy through that alone could echo for a generation.

At the top of the Republican agenda will be undoing Obamacare. While the Affordable Care Act was imperfect—President Obama’s version of health care reform is still a profit-based, inefficient system that does not operate on the presumption that health care should be a basic human right—it was a step in the right direction. And now, we will take a step back, as Republicans have full reign to implement a health care system that further pads the pockets of insurance companies rather than providing quality health care to all.

But Republicans will not just seek to undo the last eight years of progress we’ve achieved with President Obama. Now on the table are fundamental, life-saving programs like Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and, yes, even Social Security. They’re not just going to go after Obamacare—they will seek the dismantle FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society. Unimpeded, they will target nearly a century of progress.

Expect more tax cuts for the wealthiest among us (disguised as “trickle-down economics”), which will further depress the American and global economies. Expect passage of oppressive anti-democracy policies, voter suppression, deregulation of safeguards design to protect consumers, increased militarization of our police forces, “stop and frisk”-style racial profiling, more oppression of the impoverished, the further deterioration of workers’ rights, and a dirtier planet. The influence of money in politics and the unbridled pursuit of profit will actually grow beyond our already untenable levels, and corporations and the NRA will rule the Beltway.

With the FBI, CIA, ICE, the most powerful military in the history of the world, the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and, of course, his Twitter account under his command, if he so chooses, Trump will be able to terrorize immigrants, anyone who does not have a fair complexion, and anyone who has ever said a bad word about him. He’ll put the “bully” in “bully pulpit.”

Culturally, this also means our oppressors will be emboldened, and our most vulnerable will be targeted and under attack. Victims of sexual assault—many of whom have taken to social media to tell their heart-wrenching stories and who are under constant threat of trauma triggers in this surreal new reality we now face—will need to fight off predators who feel validated that a man who espouses grabbing women “by the p***y” has been elected by 59 million Americans to be the leader of the free world.

The Way Forward

I know. This is a lot. But I don’t want to sugarcoat it. You need to know what we are facing. However, in this dark time, we must keep hope, we must find our resolve, and we must FIGHT BACK.

Given what we are facing, our communities will need to work to protect each other from the bullies. We will need to band together to catch and lift up those that this new system will cast aside. And we will need to organize a People’s Opposition to provide the only check a President Trump will have to face.

We will need to firm our resolve when confronted with invigorated haters and trolls. But, we must do so by taking Michelle Obama’s high road, trusting that love will ultimately win the day. We must embrace those who seek to oppress us, engage with those who seek to gaslight us, love those who seek to ironically banish us from this Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

We must remember that time is on our side, we are becoming a more vibrant, diverse nation by the day, and the American Way is resiliency.

Talk to your children. Tell them that democracy is imperfect and messy. Tell them that this country can be anything we make it to be. Tell them that we as a country have overcome so much, and we will overcome this.

Finally, be kind to yourself. Right now, many of us are going through the stages of grief. It’s a lot for your body to hold. Give yourself the space you need to grieve. Forgive yourself for not having done more. And remember that we must be strong and healthy for this movement to sustain itself.

Remember What We Stand For

It is clear by these results that people want change. We agree! The system is broken and is only working for a precious few. In this election, change defeated the establishment.

But moving forward, we must work to present the public with agents of change who actually follow a moral compass. We as a Movement need to sharpen and solidify our message. People are hungry for a better way, and we must provide a righteous path to moral change.

As the People’s Opposition, we need to raise up and articulate at every turn just how unjust the coming onslaught of oppressive policies truly are. We need to prop up and elect individuals who will champion moral, progressive values and who will take this country on a path that bends toward justice. And not just at the top of the ticket, but everywhere on the ballot. And if that is you, WE NEED YOU TO RUN FOR OFFICE. Don’t wait until you think you’re ready. WE NEED YOU NOW.

And know that don’t have to run for office to make a difference, as it will take all types. Immerse yourself in civic engagement. Support progressive candidates. Volunteer in your community. Get involved with groups like the Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment (APACE). It is OK to grieve. It is OK feel overwhelmed by the hate we must absorb from others. But we must not bury our heads in the sand.

Remember that we have chosen love and rejected hate and fear, and we must live by those standards even when it feels impossibly difficult to do so. We must remember that how we behave in our lowest moments, when our backs are against the wall, is what truly defines us. We must have faith that it is darkest just before dawn, and that, if we harden our resolve, the sun will be upon us once more.

Be strong, brothers and sisters, find your inner strength, and get ready to fight for a better America.

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