The Morning After
I haven’t been a registered member of either political party for over 12 years, most of my voting history. Yet due in large part to social, racial, economic, and gender inequality, and a recognition of the abuse our species has wrought on the biodiversity and sacred open spaces of this beautiful planet, I have voted for the Democratic candidate for president in every election I’ve participated in and this time is no different.
So why not just go all the way and register as a Democrat?
Because political parties do not appreciate the nuance or diversity of ideas that many informed and concerned citizens feel in our country. What’s been clear to me in this election (which was way too f’ing long! Can we please make these puppet shows shorter? Please?!) is that there are a lot of disillusioned people in this country on both sides. Many of which are not doing well economically or feel isolated and left out by the language of progressives, or the “educated elite” throughout the country. We haven’t done a great job of listening to the people of Michigan and middle Pennsylvania, who are still grossly under employed. The uneducated white voter who feels like his core values and his community are under attack. They are and will likely continue to be very angry. And when people are struggling and outraged, they tend to look for a hero and/or they look for someone to blame.
Let me be clear, I think Donald Trump is a Grade-A ass clown. I am deeply concerned for the economic and environmental stability of our nation and the world. I am also sincerely praying not for my white ass in affluent Marin County, California but for the minorities who live in spaces where their very existence has been challenged in this election. And while I honestly don’t think Donald Trump is the racist he pretended to be in this election, he has given space for white nationalism to thrive throughout this country, which is patently terrifying.
I also understand that many people were not inspired by the message of Hilary Clinton and are disillusioned with the “political establishment.” Our lack of trust in the political process and the long stream of candidates that are paraded in front of us as viable political leaders was palpable from Bernie supports to Trump fire brands.
And the bad news is that instead of recognizing this as a shared American emotion, we’ve allowed this disillusionment to divide us further apart.
After Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I sent out an e-mail to every friend and family member I had in my address book in which I reminded folks that there is no such thing as a political savior. As Howard Zinn pointed out, salvation does not come from the top but from every individual working in community together for what is right. Equal representation under the law, protection of individual liberty, and equal opportunity in a nation rich with resources.
We must demand the best. We alone can save ourselves. And as a way of cleaning house, let the first thing to go be our apathy. And today, with re-newed commitment we must work to be the best version of ourselves. To show the world what democracy really means. Democracy is not limited to election but is corner-stoned on participation.
I am responsible.
You are responsible.
We are responsible.
Let’s do the inner work. Reflect on these past few years and how we got here.
How was it possible that a man who openly mocked disability, fanned the flames of racial discrimination, a climate change denier, and pussy grabber was elected to be our next president?
The language of this campaign has been hurtful and demeaning. Let us not fall pray to retribution with hurtful and demeaning language.
Let us resist the temptation to disconnect.
We must do the work.
To be better listeners.
To demand more from our media.
To demand more from those we voted for.
To demand the same from those we didn’t vote for.
We are responsible to the occasion. That we rise to meet it. And we must rise.
Progress is not limited to party.
As I’ve said before:
Democrats will not solve the environmental challenges we face.
Republicans are not going to solve Social Security.
There is no way out, around, or through without each other.
If you need to grieve, grieve.
If you are celebrating, celebrate.
This is how democracy works.
People vote, someone loses, and we still have to live together.
Today is a new day and we must rise to meet it.