Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaugurate Thyself

At first I was just sick.

My stomach twisted in knots, my mind and heart disbelieving.

We had worked so hard. Phone calls, door knocks, voter registration. I stood at the polls from before they opened until well after they closed, feeling cautiously optimistic as we posted the tallies and locked up the voting machines.

And then the texts from my friends started coming:

"Did you see the news?"

"They called Pennsylvania for Trump."


"How can this even be happening?!!!!!"

I turned on the radio as I drove through the darkness. The commentators on NPR were equally disbelieving. My stomach continued to churn. I've been disappointed with the outcome of other elections, but this was different. Very different.

It took no time at all for ugliness to erupt. Students in middle schools, elementary schools, and high schools taunted their classmates. Vandalism of Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques and Black churches was reported. Bomb threats, attacks, and the visible presence of the KKK and White Nationalists became everyday news. Women were groped by young men shouting, "Grab 'em by the pussy!"

What had we become?

And that's when I realized, it wasn't the loss of the candidate I supported that was so upsetting, it was the notion that there were people who I knew for whom Trump's lies, racism, misogyny, and divisiveness were acceptable, and for some, even laudable.

When he mocked Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter, his supporters shrugged it off. Apparently it didn't bother them.

When he ridiculed the Khan family, who lost their son as he defended our country, his supporters were nonplussed. Was it because the Khans are immigrants? Is that why there was no outcry for this Gold Star family?

When he chose a running mate who has made it his mission take away the fundamental rights of LGBTQ people and women, his supporters cheered.

When he was shown on videotape admitting to assaulting women and using vulgar language to describe it, his supporters waved it away. As woman after woman came forward with accounts of his attacks, they denied the overwhelming evidence.

When he made repeated racist references to Hispanics, African Americans, and immigrants, his supporters didn't bat an eye.

When he supported an ex-KGB Russian prime minister over U.S. intelligence agencies, his supporters didn't even grumble.

For people who profess to be Christian, who say they are not racist, none of these things were deal breakers.

And that is the source of my dismay: that so many people could find Trump's utter lack of morals tolerable, and that the progress we seemed to have made toward tolerance and justice over the last eight years was apparently so fragile.

My Black friends were not so surprised. They see things I do not see. In my world of white privilege, I thought we had made more progress. I thought we were better than this.

But you know what? We are better than this.

As the days rolled on, it became clearer. Razor thin margins in 3 states had provided enough electoral votes to call the election for Trump, but Clinton was the clear winner of the popular vote, by almost 3 million votes. And there were a significant number of votes for other candidates.

I believe that we really are better than this. By more than 3 million people we are better than this.

I will march in Washington D.C. this weekend. I will make myself heard. I will advocate. I will call my legislators. I will support progressive candidates. I will continue to work for inclusion, for welcoming diversity, for racial justice. I will not accept that Trump's agenda is the agenda of the citizens of the United States of America, because it is not. I will not give up.

Instead, I will inaugurate myself:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of Citizen of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Join me, won't you?