Yesterday I joined the protests against President Elect Trump. I’d never done anything like that in the past, but I’ve also never been as inspired to act as I am now. I was hoping that it would be therapeutic, to march with others who are as bewildered and distraught by all of this as I am. Even more, I wanted to take action to show my fellow Americans who feel more marginalized than ever that I stand with them.
These past few days I’ve had many conversations with people about the election. I’ve also read some compelling articles, essays, Facebook notes, posts, etc. that have helped me to understand the reasons that people might have voted for Trump. These ideas are not exactly new. We’ve been pondering this for over a year, and I’ve tried as best as I could to keep an open mind about the driving factors behind them. The reasons are wide-ranging – as diverse as these people, with their unique backgrounds and experiences, are themselves.
It’s important for me to point out that we (anti-Trump activists) are protesting Trump and his policies, NOT targeting Trump supporters. The media has certainly portrayed these marches as an “us against them” situation, which it is not. We are out there because we believe (and we understand that Trump supporters do not agree) that our country is in real and imminent danger. We believe that the values that “America” has come to embody are under attack. The vast majority of the protesters are peaceful and vehemently oppose rioting and violence. Yes – some feel that destruction and chaos are necessary to effect change. They are a small minority. I respect everyone’s decision, whether you didn’t vote for any reason, you abstained because you didn’t respect the choices, or you voted for Trump or for anyone else.
I do not love my Trump supporting friends and family any less for their choice. I respect everyone’s right to decide for themselves what is and is not acceptable in a President. I understand that people have felt forgotten, ignored, insulted, and cast aside for a very long time. I understand the intense desire for change. I want change too. We just disagree on who and what that change should be, and we might also disagree on the reasons we’ve found ourselves in this position. I recommend the book, “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance for anyone still struggling with understanding Middle America. It broke down my resistance significantly, and I’m from this demographic!
I know that the people I love are not sexist, racist, homophobes, and they do not condone Trump’s sexual harassment (and alleged assault) or any of the other items on the list of atrocities we all know that he’s committed. What I still can’t wrap my mind around though is the acceptance of it all. You may not be a racist or homophobe or sexual predator, but you still support him as though it doesn’t matter. I can’t. That’s where our major disconnect lies.
The response at this point in the discussion is often, “but you accept Hillary Clinton, who is a murderer, who broke the law, who is corrupt.” Yeah – you have some points there. Not the murderer part. You lose me when you go there – conspiracy theories never hold any water for me. Yes, she’s deeply flawed. I agree. This election and the options it presented to us was not our finest hour as a nation. She wasn’t my first choice. Everyone knows it was and always will be Sanders for me. The reality though was that he was no longer an option, and I had to decide whether I’d rather have a politician who has made some really bad decisions, yet who has extensive, successful experience in public service and foreign affairs, and an ideology that more closely mirrors my own (human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant and refugee rights, equity in education and healthcare, climate-change mitigation), or an unapologetic racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, dangerous, climate change-denying, unqualified, birther, sexual predator, and failed business man – loathed by a good portion of the world – in the White House. I knew that voting this man into office would legitimize all of the hateful and divisive speech that he’d used throughout his campaign, and it has.
I’ve also known that our democratic process is seriously damaged. I’ve decided to focus on The National Popular Vote as my issue moving forward. We can’t have another election where the people’s choice is shot down by power concentrated in a number of smaller states. This was the fifth time in our history that this has happened.
I’ve lost a few Facebook friends since the election. I know that many people believed once Trump “won” the election the “political” posts would stop. On the contrary, now that he’s in office, the need for people to organize and advocate for equality and protection of the marginalized is greater than ever. It was never about “winning” for me. It was about refusing to allow the behavior and track record of this man to become our face to the world. If Hillary Clinton had won, I’d still be organizing and pushing for change in our system.
I’m okay with people un-friending me. I definitely wouldn’t want someone to torture him/herself by seeing my posts all day long (and they are definitely all day long) just because they fear ending our real-life relationship otherwise. I’m not going to stop caring about people because they’re no longer my Facebook friends. I just wish that people were not so intolerant of others’ points of view that they can’t even bear to look at it.
When people un-friend you, you really start to look inward and think critically about how you present your own views to the world. It’s a growing experience on my end, and I’d hope on theirs as well. In my passion, maybe I come across as a zealot or self-righteous. That’s never my intention. I often ask those close to me to be sure and tell me if anything is offensive or hostile. I can’t make everyone happy, and I might always offend someone, but I do try to be as diplomatic as possible. At times, the issue at hand is personal though – and there isn’t much you can do to sugar coat it. I’ll never back down to racism again. I care too much about so many people who are deeply hurt and afraid right now.
I do not usually unfriend but I do unfollow now and then. Even then, I check their pages once in a while to see what kind of information is shaping the views that are different from mine. The few that I have actually deleted are always due to hostility. Just did one this morning who called a friend and me “stupid!” for liking the Saturday Night Live opening last night. That’s the sort of thing that’s gotta go. Not having it.
One thing the protest did for me yesterday was to legitimize my feelings and empower me to keep making my voice heard. No matter how many disagree with me, it’s my voice, my forum, and I won’t censor myself because someone might get angry.
For those who say that protesting is a waste of time, I say join us once before making your final judgment. It was the best use of my time in ages. The more voices that come together, the harder it is for the system to fall back into its flawed place, the less likely it is that we’ll ever repair the damage that has been done. You’ll see that people who feel afraid now that hate crimes have increased feel safer in these crowds. You’ll see a lot of laughter in a time when people want to cry, and great ideas being born. It was a completely positive environment and the energy was exhilarating. It definitely beats sitting at home and wallowing in fear and complacency.