I Never Thought of Myself as an Inactive Citizen — Until Trump Was Elected
By: E.I. Granger / Twitter: @amerika206 / Date: December 5, 2016
The election of Donald Trump has been extremely unsettling, to put it mildly. Election Day felt like 9–11 for me, with the same uncertainty and despair for the country and world. I didn’t know what to tell my kids and I had this surreal feeling that the world wasn’t as safe as it was just 24 hours before.
The major difference I felt between the two events, is that this time there has been no compelling call to unify.
No joining together of people from all political backgrounds. In this election, a significant segment of the country didn’t believe that 9–11 happened again. They believe that this event is good for our country and they have ignored the signs that point to this election being a national tragedy. That piece has been hard to process and has lead to a lot of grief and soul-searching.
Since the election, I have been trying to figure out how my life will adapt to this uncertain change. What I find to be most unsettling is the realization that this the first time I have feared that our most basic rights will be at risk for the next four years. I never imagined in my lifetime that I would have to worry about attacks on our Freedom of the Press or Free Speech. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means.
I do have a background in psychology and I understand how people can be manipulated, especially in large groups.
This is where I see the abuse happening. Not in grand, sweeping offenses that can clearly be seen by the public. I believe it will be in small, manipulative ways that will accumulate over the time he is in office. Small ways that will discourage people from speaking up and challenging the administration for fear of being penalized or just feeling like it’s ‘not worth it’ to go against the administration.
Small misperceptions that his supportive fan base will take in as a declaration of truth and use to continue to ignore more objective data and media reports.
This is why I feel a strong pull to be more aware of what is happening. I will openly admit that I have benefitted from living a privileged life.
I have family members who were drafted into World War II, were prisoners of war in Europe and lived as refugees after fleeing their homes.
My family immigrated to the United States in the 1950s. This was my family history that I grew up listening to, but it has never been my everyday reality. I was born after my family did most of their struggling.
As a young person, I was in awe of how they created new lives for themselves but it was so far in the past that I never thought I could ever be in a similar position.
I felt like the world learned such an important lesson after World War II that we could never let those horrible things happen again. I believed that our work in today’s world was to fight for injustice on a smaller scale, because those larger scale battles had already been fought and mostly won.
I have realized over the past few weeks that I have made some incredible mistakes in conceptualizing my role as an American citizen.
I assumed that I could relax because there were people in power who were fighting on our behalf for justice.
I have always made an effort to be educated on important current events, sign petitions and donate to environmental causes, but really never took on the role as an ‘activist’. It’s been a truly eye-opening experience to realize how lucky I have been up until this point. Being an activist has been an optional choice for me. My home has never been threatened by war or some other extreme tragic event. I have been allowed to have “regular” life problems and have been allowed to be selective in what battles I choose to fight. This has been a tremendous gift as I know that many are not so lucky.
Now I need to put that aside and not assume that good will prevail just because that is what I expect of humanity.
The administration coming into power in 2017 has threatened all of us. We all will need to pay attention to our basic rights in this country and do whatever we can to fight for them.
I will be arming myself with critical thinking, knowledge and most importantly, with my voice.
I also remind myself that we did learn from the horrors of our past. There is a framework in place that will help us stand up for equality and justice, but we have to be active participants in order for that system to work for us. The people who voted for Trump didn’t have to do anything complicated to elect him. They just believed in their candidate, supported each other in voting for him and went out and voted. They were passionate about their choice and they got the results they wanted.
That movement is now gaining strength on the progressive side.
I will continue to seek out the causes I am passionate about and do whatever I can to encourage my community to vote and stand up for these causes. I will add my voice to the many others who are loudly demanding justice and upholding high standards for our country.
I hope if you are reading this, you will join me as well.