We Can Rise
The red, white, and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling as she finished what would come to be an historic speech. Little girls, perched upon their mother’s and father’s shoulders, gazed at the woman they believed would change everything. People of every race, creed, sexual orientation, gender, and religion from all around the globe watched with utter anticipation. The party was gearing up for a fight, and they believed that their new leader was the woman to lead that fight. Hillary Clinton had just become the first woman in American history to capture the nomination of a major political party, and nobody, truly, thought she could lose. A mere 103 days later, everything was different and nobody was the same.
CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX, and every other news station had just begun their “special election night coverage.” The Javits Convention Center was filled to the brim with every type of person imaginable, and they were all waiting to experience a coronation. The coronation of our first woman president. People were crying tears of joy. They were snapping selfies, and anticipating the victory they had been waiting for. Women in their teens to their 90s thought they were going to be a witness to history. They were wrong, and, soon, their tears of joy turned into something much more sinister.
By nine o’clock, the numbers in Florida and North Carolina were all wrong, Virginia was way too close, and blue collar voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were about to break the so-called “blue wall.” Inside Clinton’s bubble, things looked bleak. The team started accepting that they might actually lose. How could this happen? They had done everything right. Donald Trump had presented a message on par with hate and intolerance, and Hillary Clinton had, correctly and justly, juxtaposed herself to that message. Donald Trump said that our leaders were “stupid.” He said that we needed to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, who he asserted were “rapists and murderers,” but that “‘some’ of them were good people.” He suggested that we should ban all Muslims from entry into the United States. He made a mockery of our Presidential Debates, insulted all POWs with his comments on John McCain, and promoted violence at his rallies. Trump made himself into a candidate that the conventional wisdom of Washington said could not win; however, he did win.
Wisconsin was called, and the dreams of Hillary Clinton were smashed against Trump’s wall. She called President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his victory, and retreated into the night without a word to her supporters. But who could blame her? She had lost everything. Instead of a smashed glass ceiling, Hillary’s dreams lay shattered on the doorstep of every American household that believed in her. The so-called demagogue had won, and hope seemed to forever be lost.
We all asked ourselves, those of us who campaigned on her behalf, where did it all go wrong? It was the Comey letter! That had to be it, many of us thought. “If it had just not been for that letter, she would have won,” we said. However, inside, we all knew that the reason for an electoral upset like this one had to be much more deeply-seated than a letter. There was a sentiment in America that the political establishment didn’t care about the little people, and the American people had a thirst for change; as a result, they drank Donald Trump’s Kool-Aid, and made a rash decision.
Fast forward to today, President-elect Trump, soon to be President Trump, has formed a government more corrupt and right-wing than any of his predecessors. Donald Trump, the “You’re Fired” guy that questioned President Obama’s citizenship, is about to succeed our first African American president, and there isn't a thing that any of us can do about it. Many of us feel numb, almost like there is nothing left to fight for. “We’ve lost,” some of us think. “It’s over,” many of us exclaim. But, we’re wrong.
The fact is we haven't even begun to fight. President Trump marks the beginning of our fight. Our time is now, and we have to grasp it. If we allow Trump to do what he wishes with our country, he wins. If we allow Trump to divide us, he wins. If we begin to fear him, he wins.
The truth is he hasn’t even won yet. Sure he’s about to become president, but he doesn't win until he gets what he wants. A financial system that favors the rich. An immigration policy that oppresses those who look and act differently from us. A government that oppresses minority groups. A White House that silences the media, and prevents people from speaking their minds. If he achieves what he has said he will push for, he will win. Our job is to make sure that he doesn’t win.
Let us fight for our values. Let us fight for our principles. If we work together, there’s nothing we cannot accomplish. We’re progressives. We freed the slaves from bondage, gave women the right to vote, passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, created Medicare and Social Security, and gave the American people both their freedom and dignity. As progressives, when we set our minds to something, we can win. We can rise again. We can fight again. We can govern again. All it takes is for us to truly talk about the issues that matter, and prove to the American people why we’re the best to lead. We’ve shown we can rise in the past. And, if we stand together, and as President Obama so famously exclaimed “put our hands on the arc of history, and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day,” we will rise again.