My Initial Thoughts on the 2016 Election
This election cycle I worked for the communications department of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Colorado. Needless to say, election day was devastating and in the days that followed, the last thing I wanted do to was pay attention to the news or listen to anyone’s election analysis. Unfortunately, social media makes disconnecting nearly impossible. From time to time I’d catch glimpses of commentary or articles that I felt couldn’t go unanswered or unchallenged.
About halfway through my journey back home to Washington State from Colorado, I had finally had some time to myself and decided to put my thoughts into words. With so much to cover, I decided to write my thoughts in bullet form.
- What an incredible thing our democracy is. It is nothing short of a privilege to see a peaceful transition of power. There are so many people around the world who don’t have this same privilege.
- A healthy democracy has several components. Electing our leaders is one and holding them accountable is another. Across the board, Americans need to the do a better job with the accountability part.
- I absolutely respect the outcome of this election and I respected the voices of the people who voted for Donald Trump. What I will not respect are voices that disrespect the existence of other people, that terrorize other people or that try to diminish the rights of other people — all of these go both ways.
- To the men and women who voted for Donald Trump, I want to make sure we are clear on who our President Elect is. Donald Trump was endorsed by the Klu Kux Klan; bragged about grabbing women by the vagina without their consent; has a grade level handle of the English language; cannot recite a single verse in the Christian bible; has made his wealth on the backs of hard working people; has a Vice President who signed legislation that proactively discriminates against LGBT Americans; and called for a ban on an entire religion. This man will be my president just as much as yours after January and I sincerely hope he does a good job because wishing for anything else would be like wishing for my pilot to fail while I’m on the plane. That said, I want to make another thing very clear, over the next four years, I will be doing everything in my power to hold him accountable. And lastly, be careful about saying that a majority of Americans supported Donald Trump. In case you weren’t aware, 1.5 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Furthermore, the number of Americans who voted for Donald Trump accounts for only 27% of total eligible voters in the U.S.
- To the people who have spent the last week protesting across the country, ask yourself: how much have you moved the needle? There are empty school board meetings and empty city council meetings that need you right now. Find the leaders who reflect your values, work to get them elected, and hold them accountable. The powerful visual of a protest is great but then what? Pair your demonstrations with tangible impact.
- To the people who are using the #NotMyPresident, Donald Trump will be your president starting January 20th. Now do your job as a citizen of this country and hold your future president accountable.
- To those of you who voted third party, I better see all of you go after Trump as much as I saw you go after Hillary. And a quick tip, if you want to start a movement, do so by electing people at the local level first, people who are more competent than the presidential candidates you put forth.
- To those of you who caucused for Sanders who are saying if only it had been Sanders against Trump, Democrats would have won, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primaries by a wider margin than she won the popular vote for President. Hillary Clinton received 3 million more votes than Bernie Sanders and I am one of those voters. If you are truly about the empowerment of people, stop trying to invalidate my voice and the voices of people who voted for Hillary Clinton. I have several reasons for why I preferred Clinton over Sanders, ask me about them and respect them. If you were on the Bernie-or-bust movement, I hope this isn’t the reaction you have every time you don’t get your way, otherwise we are in for a long journey.
- To all of the analysts who are coming out of the woodwork, talking about how this was the white, blue-collar class voicing their frustration, asking everyone to sympathize with them, first, stop calling me an elitist. There are two components to this analysis: 1) the white working class feels like the economy has left them behind and 2) the white working class is tired of hearing they are wrong on social issues. I completely agree with the first part. We need to do more to make sure rural communities are not left behind. As someone who grew up in the countryside, I can tell you that rural schools have been lacking the resources they need for a long time. The second part is perplexing. Take LGBT Americans, for example. The entire concept of being in the closet stems from growing up in a society that tells gay Americans that who they are is wrong. So what is perplexing is that I am being asked to sympathize with folks who feel oppressed when that is all minority groups have ever felt. What is also perplexing is how demanding to be treated as an equal became an “elitist” idea. I demand to have equal rights to any other person in this country and that is not wrong and that is not an elitist idea.
- To all of people wondering if the Hillary Campaign made mistakes this cycle, of course we did. Do we want to talk about them right now? No.
- To all of the people who are saying I knew all along this would happen, the U.S. is so racist or sexist, ect., ect., the outcome of this election is what happens when people don’t vote or get involved. The outcome of every election is in your hands. Ask yourself: did you vote? Did you knock on doors? Did you make phone calls? Did you donate? If the answer to these questions is “no,” then there you have it. On a separate note: buck up. When suffragists were jailed, did they say “welp, things will never change, might as well quit”? No. When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, did activists say “welp, there goes our movement”? No. History teaches us that minorities in America have seen much darker days and history also teaches us that anything worth having isn’t easy to obtain. So stop agonizing and start organizing.
- To all of the people who didn’t vote, I want to share a story from my time in Colorado. I had the opportunity of staffing Representative Keith Ellison in September during a faith round table in Denver. Representatives from every religion were present and the subject of voter apathy came up. Ellison talked specifically to those who thought that abstaining from voting was an act of self-preservation, an act of staying “pure” or remaining out of the system. He had this to say: “The system is meant to be lobbied, it’s not moral or immoral, but it’s meant to be lobbied. If you want to change the system, you have to engage it and lobby it. If you think you are maintaining your purity but not participating, things are never going to change.”
- With regards to the DNC, I have a several thoughts. For starters, it was insulting that leaders in the party thought they needed to pick sides in order for Hillary Clinton to win the primary — it demonstrated everything that is wrong with the party and undermined Hillary Clinton’s ability as a candidate. Second, it is beyond time to bring in new leadership.
My final note is this, I am tired and I am angry and I am sad but I have also never been more determined, and so should everyone else who is upset about the outcome of this election. We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us to demonstrate what we are capable of when we take the future in our own hands — let’s take full advantage of it.