Number one rule; respect the office, not the man. I believe in our government. I trust our constitution and the checks and balances it ensures. I believe that we must, if we want to preserve our republic, honor the greatest achievement of that republic by continuing the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power.
At the same time, it is not an over reaction to be terrified that the man might do the things he expressly said he was going to do. It is not melodramatic to be heartbroken that someone who brags about sexual assault, is lauded by the KKK, and advocates violence against his critics is the man I have to now have as president. A man I wouldn’t even want to be on the same bus with is my president. It is not an overreaction to mourn for this planet and the irreparable damage that will be done to the climate by the man who denies the consensus of science and the majority of world leaders. And it is not irrational to fear for the future as our president will surely, willfully, gleefully even, neglect to address the greatest human rights crisis of our generation and leave the victims of extremism to whatever perils on the baseless, heartless fear of their religion.
I think about all the people who visited Susan B. Anthony’s grave on Tuesday, ecstatically hopeful that by the day’s end a woman would finally break that last glass ceiling. It’s easy to feel defeated by this. This feels like a serious blow to progressivism. It is a serious blow, but we are down, not out. Remember, Susan B. Anthony never voted. Think of all the civil rights defenders who died before they saw their dreams come to fruition. Think of those who were fighting in times when popular opinion was so much against them that they were lightning rods for constant unabashed hate and vitriol. And yet they kept on fighting. They were standing up when they were the minority, we are the majority, we are the popular vote. Maybe we have grown lazy, maybe 8 years of a progressive icon, a wise and honorable man at the head of our country has made us complacent in our causes. Maybe that’s why not enough of us got up and voted on Tuesday.
We need to tend our wounds and regroup, we need to assure each other that we are all still here and still believe. That is what I hope these demonstrations are about, expressing to ourselves as well as to the rest of the world that progressivism is still here in America because we need to feel that hope right now. But I hope these demonstrations are not a futile exercise in wishing things were different, in wishing for our druthers, and begging for a do-over. The election was not stolen from us, we lost. Now we have to find a way to recover, move forward, and keep fighting. We also have to find a way to heal.
The good that might come from this is the bursting of the progressive bubble, the one that protected us from recognizing that those in opposition to us are not the stupid or the evil. They are wrong, not evil. And we don’t persuade them from their wrongness by vilifying them. This nation is too polarized to continue to function. We have to rethink our rhetoric recalibrate our message and truely become the politics of understanding and acceptance that we have always pretended but rarely suceeded to be. The unexamined vilification of the opposition is what has taken us to this point. Let’s be active, let’s be motivated, but let’s also be civil. We can no longer play the game of emotional politics in this country, if we want to do good and do good together we have to start to reason with each other and make reason above all else the greatest political virtue.
We are now the opposition. We are probably experiencing some of the same emotions that were felt by others when Obama became president, those emotions which looked irrational to us then. We should recognize now that to wallow in them will do us very little good. The republican party has made hay off of the myth of its own oppression (despite controlling congress), the ‘war on Christianity’, the ‘loss of American values’. Don’t let progressive values become empty those buzzwords, continue to believe in them because they are right, not merely because they are opposite. Don’t let MSNBC become the new FOX as we all bemoan the strawmen who oppose us, we must continue to present reasonable arguments for the progressive cause.
There will be so much more to say about this is the next four years. And I’m sure I will often be angry and emotional and not follow my own advice. I know that I will not remain silent while the marginalized suffer I will use my privilege and whatever other powers I have to push for progressive aims. I don’t know what else to say, there still remains so much to be seen. Just keep believing, we’re stronger together.
Here are a few speeches from progressive champions who faced greater opposition than this, to encourage you throughout the coming weeks.
Make the impossible possible.