From the moment I woke up on Friday, January 20, 2017, my eyes and ears were glued to coverage of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. I watched and listened for a myriad of reasons including a need to witness history (no matter how it is judged later) and to see what our new president had to say. Yes, I said “our”. We are the collective. He is our president for at least the next four years. I’m not naive enough to think the calls of “Not my President” are to be taken literally. I have zero expectation or fear that a dissenting group is going to rise up and overthrow our government. But I do understand the meaning of that call; I do. And while I support most of the message, particularly equality and personal liberty, I have a question to ask all of you.
What are you going to do?
After he was sworn in, President Trump went into a back room to sign the official nominations for his cabinet. One thing that struck me was the marionette-like behavior he displayed. Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle (Rep. Ryan, Sen. Schumer, and Rep. Pelosi stood out the most) were directing him this way and that. They were pulling the strings in that room. The truth is they more often than not are the ones pulling the string elsewhere. They are the ones making policies and decisions that directly effect our lives. Why then are there not calls for “Not my Representative!” or “Not my Senator!”?
On Saturday, January 22, 2017, millions of women and men joined others in cities across the country, and the world. They marched to voice their dissent, their outrage, their frustration. I was not one of them. If childcare wasn’t an issue, which is was on that Saturday, I still wouldn’t have attended. This is not my style. I find very little success in holding a sign and walking down the street. It’s better left to those that can maximize the medium. These protests, these marches, these rallies they do a job. They bring the eyes of the world to you. They capture the attention of the population. And you have it, friends, the eyes and ears of the world are watching and listening. What are you going to do with it?
As I write this in the afternoon of the twenty-second, most marches are already over. The leaders who are failing us on every vote are still in office. Many of them won’t face reelection for another two years. If you want to make an effective change, you need to start with them. Direct your outrage not at a President who has very little power in the fine details of policy; but direct it instead at the real problem.
President Trump campaigned for just shy of two years. Two years! The mid-term elections are now that far away. Who are you going to support? If it’s not the incumbent leaders then who? Herein lies the problem. We are a short-sighted people. We look to fix a problem far too late. To make a change for the future, we need to start today. We need to play the long game.
I did not vote for Donald Trump; nor did I vote for Hillary Clinton. I voted for Gary Johnson or rather the third party, mostly on principle. I wanted to break the duopoly in our political system. I did not expect miraculous results. I simply wanted to offer my vote to help secure federal election funding. I voted against incumbents in my local & state elections as well because they failed to respond effectively to my direct concerns. Prior to that, I wrote letters, I called and left voicemails, I signed petitions to my representatives on issues ranging from health care, family leave, public works, and military benefits.
This is what you need to do once your march is over.
Every question I have posed to you can be answered by this. You need to take actionable steps. Make your voice not only heard but recorded. Make your satisfaction or dissatisfaction heard at the polls. Don’t leave it up to someone else. Don’t let the slow, creeping hug of apathy embrace you. Remember this is a long game. Find people willing to take on your cause and support them, now. Don’t believe the lie that a poor or political novice can’t win, can’t make a difference because President Trump has shown political experience isn’t always a requirement for change.
So, I ask you again. What are you going to do?