“United Through Resistance”
Maybe a Trump presidency is just what this country needed.
I don’t mean to sound overly optimistic, or naïve to the detrimental effects this White House has already had on so many lives, but it is undeniable that this administration has tangibly “shaken things up in Washington.” President Trump has unintentionally birthed a new age of political engagement motivated by anger, fear, disappointment and shock. Perhaps the most significant feature of his presidency so far is an America that is finally relearning to mobilize and organize. And it’s not too late; it’s about time.
Our politically disengaged nation needed a catalyst to drive intersectional movements that reaffirm, both to the people and to our elected officials, that this is a country of, by, and for the people.
Under Obama, it is safe to say that the majority of American’s felt “in good hands.” Although many of his decisions were met with contention, not even his opposition could deny his competence and grace.
Under Bush, American’s were, to a certain extent, unified to secure our country after the devastation of 9/11.
Essentially, for the last 16 years, our country hasn’t witnessed the intensity of activism, engagement and mobilization that we are currently experiencing.
Since noon on January 20, there has been a noticeable uptick in grassroots political engagement and mobilization. More citizens turned out for protests surrounding Inauguration than attended the Inauguration ceremony itself. The keyboard warriors and hash-tag activists, on both sides of the aisle, took to the streets: and those previously politically inactive on social media have made their opinions known.
Just last week, the hour-long recording of the 9th Circuit Court’s hearing on the constitutionality of Executive Order 13769 was trending #23 on YouTube. Since November, the question “How to impeach a president?” saw a 4,850% rise in Google searches. Citizens are increasingly: following confirmation hearings, monitoring bills introduced in the house and senate, reading the full transcript of executive orders as soon as they are signed, and counting down the days until the midterms. Viral Facebook posts now consist of senatorial contact information, daily action items or tips on how to get involved in local government. Although the use of social media as a political platform is often regarded as a passive form of engagement, this influential tool is progressively being utilized as a means for efficiently disseminating information on grassroots initiatives, as opposed to merely expressing opinions.
That’s a pretty incredible testament to engagement in the political process, after an election stained by record low voter turnout.
The privileged practice of selective political engagement: only concerning oneself with issues or movements relevant to ones own personal safety, is also on the decline. The current politically volatile environment has finally motivated those previously inactive, to take up a vital role in the future of U.S. governance. Thus, spawning more intersectional movements that encourage individuals to stand for issues that may not have a direct affect on themselves or their immediate circle. Whether this spark in social responsibility is solely fear-driven or results from a need to feel united, we finally feel a moral duty to thy neighbor.
The majority of Americans have been disappointed with our political process and frustrated by the inaction of our elected officials in congress year after year. So why has this assault on our founding values finally motivated an unprecedented amount of constituents to take to the streets? I believe it is the troubling realization that we didn’t know our country as well as we thought. The fact that we share our identity as Americans with millions that felt no conflict of interest in casting a vote for an individual they were attracted to on the basis of “patriotism,” despite his unabating and abhorrent attacks on fellow countrymen and women.
However, this harsh realization has prompted a conscious effort to understand the sentiments that led us here, in order to reorient our approach. Conversations have shifted from blindly trying to break through a brick wall to intentionally understanding how to methodically break it down brick by brick. The effort and thoughtfulness required to understand how the opposing side operates is necessary if we want our narrative to be widely received.
Even though it took a person like Trump sitting at the Resolute desk to trigger a renewed moral obligation to our country, I am glad it has occurred.
This hawkish political vigilance should be viewed as the highest form of patriotism for a country principally designed with the will of the people as its north star. These recent developments serve as chief indicators of an America that is no longer taking a backseat to governance, an America ready to lead the charge: an America united through resistance.