By Marian Baker, Opinions Editor
When I woke up on the morning of Nov. 9, I did not know what to do. I was shaken to my core by the news the night before that Donald J. Trump had won the presidency. There was no solace to be found for me in the argument that the president is only one branch of three — Republicans had also secured the majority in both the House and the Senate. Considering the current vacancy on the Supreme Court in this mix, President-elect Trump will spend at least the first two years of his presidency with a blank check on his desk, unrestrained by opposition. As the reality of having a man in the White House who spouts authoritarian, nativist, racist, misogynist and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric — and who has declined to spurn endorsement by xenophobic and white supremacist groups — sunk in, I was left in a state of uncertainty, worry and yes, fear.
As someone who suffers from a diagnosed anxiety disorder, feelings of outrageous worry were nothing new. This, however, was nothing like anything I had felt before. Whereas before my worries were irrational and centered around myself, now my anxieties were collective, and by no means irrational.
As I expected, many tried to normalize the results of the election in the following days: “We’ll be just fine.” “Love will always conquer hate.” “The losers are being crybabies, nothing will happen.”
While normalizing a devastating event is indeed an effective coping mechanism, it is extremely detrimental to take this view. People’s rights are indeed at stake, and downplaying this fact or denying it is extremely shortsighted and an invitation to complacency. I understand the desire for normalcy, but the truth is that if we claim to support racial and religious minorities, women or the LGBTQ+ community, then we must be vigilant.
I have arguably spent the length of my political consciousness in a state of inaction. I have always assumed that there was nothing I could do but vote and hope for the best. I now recognize more than ever that I cannot rely only on those in politics; I must take action to support the things I believe in. I must do the things that I can do; we can still work from the ground up.
In his 1945 essay “Freedom of the Park,” George Orwell wrote that “the relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”
In this light, saying “well, there is nothing we can do now, my candidates are not in office,” is abhorrent. Now is the time to take things into our own hands — to hold ourselves responsible for the changes we want to see in our communities, our nation and the world. We must now do the work to support the vulnerable, not despite opposition, but because of it.
We have lots of work to do. What will you do?