Jo is a long-time political junkie and has followed politics closely in the USA since Nixon. Politics is her favorite spectator sport.
Bullies Are Cowards
My friend Mary was a tiny woman, barely 5' tall, vertically challenged as we always teased her. She was soft-spoken, kind, generous, and not one to make waves. But she was also spunky. You knew, when push came to shove, Mary would stand firm.
I attended Mary's memorial service recently where I heard her family share a story about her as a six-year-old. She was walking to school with her sister when a bully attacked her sister. It was tiny, six-year-old Mary who immediately attacked and stopped the much bigger bully from harming her sister.
When a bully attacks another child, many children won't do what Mary did. Many will join in with the bully. They'll laugh at his antics and egg him on, fearful that if they don't join in they'll be attacked next. Or if they don't join in, they may just stand back and let it happen because they fear being attacked themselves or being ostracized.
The Outcome of the 2016 Election Was Not Politics as Usual
I'm a political junkie. I've been following the game for years. My favorite spectator sport, I like to say. I stay informed about the issues. I always vote. I usually contribute to the candidate of my choice. And that's about the extent of my political involvement. I sometimes win in elections, and I sometimes lose. Regardless of the results, the day after the election I go back to my life as usual.
2016 was different. Lines were crossed in the political discourse that I find impossible to ignore. When a candidate mocks a disabled person, and his supporters laugh and refuse to condemn this behavior, that's just not okay with me. It makes me angry, not just at the candidate who spouted this type of deplorable speech, but for those who cheered him on, who voted for him, and who made him president of this great country.
When Racism Becomes Acceptable
One of the things most disturbing to me about this campaign was the racism that it unleashed. I live in the South--a rural area of the South. I've seen racism up close for a long time. Around here folks like to fly their Confederate flags, flags not often seen when I was growing up here. They only began appearing after the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s. I saw more of them near my home after President Obama's election, and they proliferated during the Trump campaign. These are the same folks now telling those of us who oppose Trump "You lost. Get over it."
I attended the March in Washington, D.C. on January 21st (the first protest I've ever attended). One of the favorite signs I saw said "If you voted for Trump you may not be a racist but you have made racism acceptable."
Even though I live here in the home of the Confederacy, I have yet to meet a person who will admit to being a racist. Every time I hear someone begin a statement with, "I'm not a racist, but...." I brace myself for another racist statement. We're all a little racist. We all have these baser human instincts and Donald Trump appealed to and nurtured them. He's not the first leader to do that. But we all also have our "better angels." We, as a country, are better than this. I'm counting on that, and I will always advocate for it.
We're Better Than This
But it isn't just racism that is being made acceptable by the election of this man. I am the mother of two daughters and four granddaughters, so I'm not going to accept the misogyny of this campaign as the norm. Not ever. I am a citizen of the United States of America, a country founded on the principles of religious freedom, so I'm not going to accept the intolerance toward Muslims as the norm. Not ever. I am a descendant of immigrants, so I'm not going to accept the intolerance toward immigrants as the norm. Not ever.
The following two videos show very different sides of America. The first was made in 2015 on Muslim Day in Texas. The second was made in 2017 at the same event when thousands of Texans showed up to form a chain around their Muslim neighbors to protect them from hate. That is what our better angels look like.
Muslim Day in Texas 2015--The Type of Behavior the Trump Campaign Nurtured
2017 Texans Showed Their "Better Angels" on Muslim Day
And The List Goes On
In addition to all of this deplorable behavior that I witnessed during the campaign (and now early days of the Presidency), there are many other things about this election that I find disturbing:
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- Almost three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for Donald Trump, yet Trump is president, a result of gerrymandering and an archaic Electoral College.
- There were, and are, concerted efforts to suppress the vote in this country. Almost half of our electorate did not vote. We need to make it easier, not harder to vote.
- A foreign government interfered in this election and affected the outcome.
I expect all of these issues to be adequately addressed, and I will continue speaking out about them until the are.
Buckle Up Buttercup
I attended the march in Washington on January 21 with my husband. Though it was billed as a women's march, it was a very diverse crowd. Many groups were represented as speakers. Some of them I identified with more than others.
Individually, we each had our reasons for being there. I was motivated most by being a mother and grandmother.
Going to this march was not especially easy for us. We paid our own way, drove hundreds of miles, got up very early and joined other eager participants on a very crowded metro to stand for hours in a large, crowded space. At the end of the day, our aging knees and backs were aching. But we were glad we were there. It was good to be with so many like-minded people who also had made a considerable effort to attend. And we knew what had motivated us to come. For me, it was four little girls back home in Tennessee as much as any thing else.
Recently in a dream I was walking through a crowd with one of my granddaughters. She was right behind me, but when I turned around she was gone. I frantically ran back through the crowd looking for her. When I spotted her going up the steps in front of me, I raced to her. Just as I reached her, I saw a man in front of me reach out to grab her. I put my hand on his shoulder and quietly said, "If you harm her I will kill you".
I have four of those granddaughters. Violence is not something I advocate, but I will resist anything I believe is harmful to them. I want them to grow up in a just, safe, and tolerant country.
If you need any further evidence for why I won't stop speaking out and why I might be the worst nasty grandma you've ever met, you can read this post my daughter put on facebook about my youngest granddaughter. Her name is Sadie.
It is for Sadie, her big sister Millie and cousins Josie and Anna that I speak out, so, no, I will not be quiet.
I respect the office of the Presidency and the tradition in our country that leads to a peaceful transfer of power after elections. I do not respect the behavior of the person who is now occupying that office that was evidenced during his campaign. I reserve judgment about his behavior, and that of his supporters, going forward. But I must say, the beginning does not look good.
So I, and millions like me, will continue to speak out, to march, to protest. It is not the liberal, biased media who is against Trump, or more specifically Trump's policies. It is us--the people. And we the people will be heard.
Want to Get Involved?
After the election, I took a break. I didn't even watch the news very much--something that's very unusual for me. I watched all four seasons of From Lark Rise to Candleford. But the day after Inauguration Day, it was time to get involved.
If you'd like to get involved, here are some things you can do:
- Call your senators and representatives to let them know what you think about pending legislation or actions. Better yet, visit their offices or attend town hall meetings to express your opinions. Remember, they work for you.
- Get involved in a local political action group. There are several of these that have become very active since the election. Indivisible, MoveOn.org, and the Women's March organization are some examples. If you join one of these groups online, you will receive notices (many of them) about activities planned for your area and actions you can take.
- Join your local political party. We're a binary system in this country, and only two political parties are significant--at least at present. If you lean Democratic but believe the Democratic Party is not progressive enough, get involved and help it change. If you're a Republican and don't like the direction of the Republican Party at present, get involved and help it change.
- Contribute to organizations that represent your values---ACLU, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood, political campaigns, or your local or national political party.
- Vote. Almost half of the electorate didn't turn out this year. Let's see if we can change that by starting with making it easier, not harder, to vote. One person, one vote.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.