HOW WE CAN KEEP FIGHTING: STEPS TO PROGRESS AND MOVE FORWARD
The moment when a nightmare becomes reality is one that stays with you forever. For me, this moment came on the night of Nov. 8, 2016, when The New York Times’s live election forecast monitor finally ticked over from predicting a Hillary Clinton win to predicting one for her Republican opposition. I was shaken. I refreshed the page, came and went to it several times, all in the hope that things would get back on track.
That never happened.
The number, “Blood Red,” if ever I have seen it, only kept getting larger in-sync with the electoral votes. Sometime after I had forced my way through anxiety-induced insomnia to get some sleep, it was all over. In spite of everything, hatred won the night and the next four years with 290 electoral votes.
As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I was terrified to get out of bed that morning. I did not want to face whatever the world had become. A torrent of fears ran through my head and I locked up; I feared for the people across the country that would be hurt senselessly, and I feared having to face the people who so callously voted for the candidates who would hurt them.
Eventually though, I did get up, and what got me moving was a simple idea: We must keep fighting. A lot of people may look at the results of this election, which gave Republicans control of the Presidency, the House, and the Senate for the first time since 1928, and think that there is nothing we can do. That notion could not be further from the truth, thankfully, but it is going to take a lot of resolve, determination, and generosity on the part of compassionate and progressively-minded Americans everywhere. All that said, here are things that we can all do right now to keep fighting for a better future against the regressive forces of the incoming presidential administration.
Stand with Each Other:
One would be hard-pressed to think of a group of marginalized people that the harmful rhetoric of the Republican presidential campaign did not target: people of color, LGBTQ communities, Muslims, disabled people, and any number of other groups targeted by supporters who found their hateful beliefs emboldened by a campaign of fear and ignorance. Already, just a few days after Nov. 8, there are stories of Muslims being assaulted in public, gay families being harassed and belittled, and Latinos being told to “go back home.”
In dark times like these we need to stand together and protect each other. If you see someone harassing a member of a marginalized group get in the middle of it. Go start a friendly conversation with the victim and ignore the harasser, or if need be, confront the harasser. Not only will you help these innocent people escape from dangerous situations, but you will also remind them that no matter how dark things get, they will always have allies in America.
It must be said, however, that you should only intervene in this way if you feel that the situation will not escalate to physical violence. If you believe that you are witnessing such a dangerous situation where someone is liable to get hurt, call the police.
Keep Your Eyes on 2018
After surviving an election as exhausting and nasty as 2016, the last thing that most of us want to hear is that we need to be focused on another one, but that is exactly what we need to be doing. The 2018 Midterm Elections are already fast approaching, and they will see all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 seats in the Senate up for grabs. The best-case scenario for mitigating the damage done by the incoming presidential administration would be to pull at least one or both of these away from the Republicans.
What we can do to help accomplish this is to watch the develops of this upcoming election very closely. Find out who the Democrats are that will be running, and do your best to boost their signal on social media. If there do not seem to be any Democrats running, find every notable and respectable one in your state and encourage them to consider running, and have your like-minded friends or family do the same. State senators, state representatives, mayors, any Democratic lawmakers you can find are worth getting in touch with.
The 2018 Midterm elections will not just be about keeping Democrats in power that are already there; we must also use it to shift the balance of power away from the Republicans as best we can.
Write to Your Senators and Representatives
While 2018 will be an incredibly important year, we must also remember the here and now, where Republicans will be looking to roll back the important policies and regulations of the Obama administration from the very second he leaves office. It is a time like this when the Democrats in the House and Senate must feel the energy of their constituencies. If you are in a state of district with a Democrat in power, write to them and tell them how important it is to you as a citizen and a voter that harmful and hateful legislation be fiercely opposed and that progressive legislation be fiercely championed. On the other hand, if your state or district is currently under Republican leadership, it may still be worth the energy to appeal to them. With the balance of power in the Senate as close as it is, 54-46, it would only take a handful of moderate Republicans exercising conscience and opposing the legislative goals of their peers to keep truly harmful policy at bay.
This is a big one. Money keeps the world turning, and this is just as true for the forces of progress as it is for the forces of evil. The incoming presidential administration has threatened to enact numerous harmful pieces of policy, and its rhetoric has threatened the well-being of many marginalized groups, as we discussed earlier. Now more than ever, the groups who will come under fire and the groups who will help those under fire need the financial support of progressive America.
Planned Parenthood, which the president-elect has frequently talked about defunding, accepts a minimum donation of $5 through their website, and users can choose to make it monthly. The Immigrant Defense Project provides legal services and counsel to immigrants, especially those whose civil liberties are at risk, and they accept donations. The Council on America-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is an advocacy group dedicated to fostering, understanding and fighting for the civil liberties of Arab and Muslim Americans, and they accept donations. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, is America’s largest anti-sexual violence group, which operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE), and provides programs nationwide that seek to help victims of sexual violence and bring their attackers to justice, and they accept donations.
While I know it is difficult to ask anyone, especially college students, to part with their money, if even half of the people in America that voted for Hillary Clinton, consistently donated just a little bit to any of these groups, or any of the dozens just like them all across America, then they will be in an immeasurably better place for the next four years than they would be otherwise.
No matter what, it is going to be a dark few years for this country. These actions, and the many others that went unlisted, will not be enough to counteract everything that is to come. Still, they will give the forces of progress in this country a fighting chance, and they will see that we remain strong enough to take back the office of the President in 2020.
Since the reach of the Albany Student Press is limited, I implore you to share this article with any friends or family you may have in other states, especially red states. The further the message spreads, the better the chances it has of making a difference where it counts.
Always remember: It is true that this, like everything, shall pass, but only if we never stop fighting.