If you’re a Liberal of any stripe who stayed home on election day because you thought Clinton would win, I’m talking to you. If you’re a Trump voter who regrets your vote because you never thought he would win, I’m talking to you. If you’re a third-party voter, I’m talking to you.
Enormous love and support and gratitude to you for grasping to understand where we have talken ourselves in this country. As reports well up across America of racist, bigoted bullying and physical attacks, including in the most Liberal cities imaginable (see especially the Facebook wall of New York Daily News justice writer Shaun King), a few things to keep in mind:
- Trump has no mandate—he was elected by less than one-half of the one-half of the American electorate that bothered to vote.
- The racist bigots acting out this week don’t understand that and believe they are a majority now—they are not, and in fact are far from it.
- Because 10 million Democratic voters who voted in 2012 stayed home on Tuesday, we did this to ourselves—if those voters had gone to the polls, we would not be in this mess.
- Because 10 million Democratic voters who voted in 2012 stayed home, that means the work we need to do to fix this mess is in our power to accomplish.
We have worked a lot out emotionally over the past few days, mourning, raging, protesting (I shot the amazing photo above at the initial, enormous #NotMyPresident rally and march in Chicago on Wednesday night), healing, removing ourselves from former networks and relationships and building new networks and relationships of choice. That is being human—we all have a lot to work out right now. But while we’re cutting ourselves off and reconnecting ourselves, here are a few more things to consider:
- Yes, some voters lied to pollsters about voting for Trump, but that’s not what got him elected—arguing with them is pointless.
- Yes, some friends and relatives and coworkers voted for Trump, but that’s not what got him elected—arguing with them is pointless.
- Yes, some Liberals voted for third parties, but that’s not what got Trump elected—arguing with them is pointless.
Because we did this to ourselves, such misplaced battles are irrelevant to winning the White House back from Cheeto Hitler in 2020 and protecting the rights of women, people of color, adherents of minority religions, and the LGBTQ community in the meanwhile. Yes, those who voted for Trump for economic reasons while holding their noses to the racist implications of their vote helped embolden the racist bullies acting out across America right now. But they don’t have a magic wand to stop it. There is much work to do now and we must place our efforts where they will matter most.
We must understand what happened and what is before us. Van Jones’ insightful Facebook Live video from Wednesday sets up the fight before us in detail. So is this bracing but honest piece from The New York Review of Books on things to watch out for when living under autocracy or the potential for autocracy—especially in terms of the media, institutions, and people trying to normalize and abnormal situation.
We must fight the current wave of racist bullying. That includes learning bystander intervention techniques to defuse situations, offering support in every way we can to victims of violence, and signaling publicly that we support love and tolerance, not bigotry and fascism. The growing, Brexit-inspired pracgtice of signaling this by wearing a safety pin on your shirt and/or outer clothing is something to consider.
We must support our civil-rights and social-justice organizations—all of them—locally and nationally. We must volunteer and support them financially. In Chicago, see this relevant list from Chicagoist. Nationally, see this list from Jezebel.
We must engage politically with the Liberal parties and politicians of our choice, with the aim of tapping new leaders and building new platforms based on bringing the left back to the left—where it belongs—and supporting the economic advancement of working Americans. And making sure that doing so is no longer considered radical by the left Establishment but instead is considered squarely within our political comfort zone—where it belongs.
We must understand—and clearly—that people who love and are not driven by racist, bigoted principles still make up the majority of our fellow Americans. We must identify those in our families and networks who may have voted for Trump but regret doing so and embrace them. We must ensure that we do so in ways that maintain our own safety. But even so, we must keep this in mind as boldly as we can—we who love are the majority. Remembering that is our strength. It will help us settle and dismiss fear, which we must do at all costs. Fear is disempowering—especially fear based on false premises. We are still most Americans and remembering that will strengthen our resolve for the battles ahead.
We must decide how we will put our actions, our careers, our lives in service to enabling love, the empowerment and safety of minority communities, fighting back against attempts to dismantle decades of advancements in civil rights, the retaking of Congress in 2018, and the regaining of the White House in 2020. The answers are are personal, but we must all ask ourselves what role we can play—because we all have a role to play. Not believing that is how Cheeto Hitler attained the Presidency in the first place. This time, believing that each of our voices have power, we have the collective power to fix things.
My personal answer is that I see no ethical or happy way forward for myself that does not involve getting as fully behind the movement to fight American fascism as I humanly can. I have decided to put my career fully in service to that movement and am seeking to put my skills to use with whatever organization or organizations can use them to fight back. And I intend to become involved politically. I haven’t yet decided what that last part looks like.
And most importantly, because the next four years may be rough, we must promise to be there to pick up the weight when it’s time for others to put it down and rest. We must and will be there for each other, have each others backs in love and solidarity. We got this, people.
I’ll close with the words of my blogger hero, the deeply empowering scribe of Black Gay Jewish, Erika Davis, from her post of this week, What to Do with Your Liberal White Rage:
“For too long we’ve lived in our safe bubbles with our liberal friends, our neutral friends, our happy lives while black and brown folks raged in Ferguson, St. Louis, Detroit, Flint, Standing Rock and other communities fighting for the basic freedoms we (I) took for granted. What do you suppose happens after he comes for the Muslims, the Mexicans, the undocumented, the Jews… When blacks exclaimed BLACK LIVES MATTER, did you say it too When LGBTQ folks exclaimed that we DEMAND EQUAL HUMAN RIGHTS, did you demand it too? When Water Protectors exclaimed WATER IS LIFE!, did you say it too?
For too long folks with white (or light) skin have been able to blend in, to not make waves, not stick their necks out too far. If you’re feeling the things you’re feeling and you want to create change, do it. It does no one any good to simply sit with the emotions. And it’s infuriating for you to try to tell me how I should feel, I’m not trying to tell you how to feel. I’m asking you to take how you’re feeling, all of that anger, raged, despair frustration, disbelief and put it into action.”
We are not Weimar now, and don’t believe that disemopowering meme, my friends. We are verbs. We are action. We always have been.
My friends, be what you are. Take action.