Even after Trump win, why I still have hope (and it has nothing to do with Jesus)

 This was from the Democratic National Convention, but the feeling is still going strong.

This was from the Democratic National Convention, but the feeling is still going strong.

I’m a church-going Christian, even as some of you reading this likely are not. No matter. This year, my hope going into 2017 has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, often referred to as the hope of the world. No, my hope is that, after being beaten in November, we’ve learned some important lessons. Progressives have learned to step it up and take matters into their own hands.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re still screwed in lots of ways. A cabinet full of unqualified and dangerous picks combined with a Republican-controlled House and Senate can do some real damage, especially with a narcissist and liar-in-chief as president, one who is still playing the media like Nero played the fiddle. That doesn’t even include GOP control at the state level, which is equally as bad.

My hope goes deeper. Have you noticed a change in your friends and acquaintances? I have. People who used to be non-political are being forceful and taking a stand against Trump. People who would never have done so much as sign an online petition are asking others to make phone calls and send letters to elected officials. They’re sharing information widely about courses of action and are calling on others to do the same.

The election of Donald Trump has awoken a sleeping giant on the left. Now we’re the ones who are mad as hell. And we’re not going to take it anymore.

We’re all still grieving because of Donald Trump’s election, and we’ll be feeling the consequences for at least four years (assuming he doesn’t pull a Sarah Palin and quit early to spend more time with his businesses).

But something seems to have changed. More and more, people are taking an active role in fighting back. They’re organizing. They’re calling senators and representatives. They’re sending money by the boatload to groups like the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and many environmental groups.

A story in Business Insider reported that within a week after Trump declared victory, the ACLU took in $7.2 million. Planned Parenthood received 80,000 new donations. The Trevor Project, which offers suicide prevention services for young LGBTQ people, was $200,000 behind in annual donations on Nov. 8, but it caught up after the election. The Council on American-Islamic Relations received 500-plus volunteer applications, a figure the group’s communications director called “simply unprecedented.”

That was just in one week. Those groups won’t have final fundraising figures, new member totals, or volunteer numbers until the end of the year, when many people make their donations, but it’s all a huge step forward.

Some of the nation’s newspapers are reporting a surge in electronic and regular subscriptions. The New York Times reported 132,000 new subscriptions shortly after the election. The Washington Post reported that it was ending the year in the black—it’s now a profitable and growing company. Yes, it’s corporate ownership. But people are starting to realize that 24/7 cable news stations and “post-truth” aren’t cutting it.

On Jan. 20, the same day as the inauguration, plans are underway for a major concert in Miami to run counter to the inaugural balls in Washington. The concert is being called “We the People” and is being organized by concert promoter Mark Ross, son of late Time Warner CEO Steve Ross. Some involved in the event’s planning said, “The talent is banging on our doors to do this,” although there has been no announcement on who might be performing. There also are plans to coordinate the concert with fundraising for groups like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the SPLC, and others.

During the inauguration ceremony itself, a group of musicians in Nashville is planning a “silent inauguration” in a local park by doing just that—staying silent for 15 minutes at 10:45 a.m. when Trump takes the oath of office. When word of the Nashville event got out, organizers were contacted by others around the country hoping to hold similar silent vigils.

The NAACP has scheduled a “People’s Inauguration” on January 21, the day after the inauguration, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The event, featuring a speech by hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper, will be a gathering of youth activists “to organize and plan how to respond to new civil rights threats expected under a new administration and Congress in 2017.” Organizers also are planning a “People’s Inaugural Ball” on January 20. I’m guessing the talent there will be a lot better than what the Trump team reportedly hasn’t been able to line up for the official inauguration events. Trumpland is reportedly dangling ambassadorships in front of agents in an attempt to get some A-list entertainers (I don’t put Ted Nugent in that category).

Also set for January 21 is the Women’s March on Washington. More than 100,000 people are planning to attend so far, coming by the busload from around the country. Similar marches the same day by women (men are also welcome) are being planned nationwide. If you’re interested, organizers ask participants to register at an official Eventbrite site to get a better handle on numbers.

In Chicago, hours after Trump’s victory, three women started a volunteer consulting group to encourage more Illinois women to run for office. They called it Rodham Consulting (after you-know-who) and have heard from 100 possible candidates so far. My own local Democratic organization scheduled phone banking to sign up people for the Chicago Women’s March on January 21. “The resistance has begun,” read the email asking for volunteers.

A powerful piece from The Guardian outlines why it’s so important to fight back and gives some ideas how.

If we’re artists, writers, critics, publishers, directors or producers of film or television, we reckon honestly with our role in shaping the American psyche. We ask ourselves why so many people just couldn’t see a 69-year-old woman in our nation’s leading role, and why they might choose instead a hero who dispatches opponents with glib cruelty. We consider the alternatives. We join the time-honored tradition of artists resisting government oppression through our work.

If we’re journalists, we push back against every door that closes on freedom of information. We educate our public about objectivity, why it matters, and what it’s like to work under a president who aggressively threatens news outlets and reporters.

If we’re consumers of art, literature, film, TV and news, we think about what’s true, and what we need. We reward those who are taking risks to provide it.

If we’re teachers, we explicitly help children of all kinds feel safe in our classrooms under a bullying season that’s already opened in my town and probably yours. Language used by a president may enter this conversation. We say wrong is wrong.

If we’re scientists, we escalate our conversation about the dangers of suppressing science education and denying climate change. We shed our cautious traditions and explain what people should know. Why southern counties are burning now and Florida’s coastal cities are flooding, unspared by any vote-count for denial.

If we’re women suffering from sexual assault or body image disorders, or if we’re their friends, partners or therapists, we acknowledge that the predatory persona of men like Trump is genuinely traumatizing. That revulsion and rage are necessary responses. …

We refuse to disappear. We keep our commitments to fairness in front of the legislators who oppose us, lock arms with the ones who are with us, and in the words of Congressman John Lewis, prepare to get ourselves in some good trouble. Every soul willing to do that is part of our team, starting with the massive crowd that shows up in DC in January to show the new president what we stand for, and what we won’t.

There’s safety in numbers, but only if we count ourselves out loud.

No doubt many of you are part of the “Pantsuit Nation” Facebook group. That’s been an outlet for so many who have been disheartened by Trump’s election, and it lets people tell personal stories about how they haven’t given up and how they’re fighting back. It has nearly 4 million members, and it contains tales of how people are fighting discrimination. There are narratives of people standing up for perfect strangers when they see them being bullied.

And it describes avenues for action. One Pantsuit Nation originator posted this as her New Year’s resolution: “I’m going to be relentless.”

So enjoy your holidays. On Christmas Eve, we went to church to pray, hear the Christmas story, light candles, and sing “Silent Night.” Christmas Day will be spent with family. Happy holidays to all, whether you have a Christmas dinner, go out for Chinese food, or enjoy a Karamu feast. Thanks to all who have to work on the holidays in the medical profession, law enforcement, fire departments, or news media—I sometimes worked holidays when I was at daily newspapers.

Then it’s back to work. It’s time for all of us to be relentless. Whether we’re wearing a pantsuit or not.

Originally posted on Daily Kos on Dec. 24, 2016.

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