Moving Forward in 2017

Keep your eye on the right to vote, free internet & freedom of press.

Photo by Jenna Day on Unsplash

Here we are, almost inauguration day.

We knew it was coming and appeared to be going through the normal check and balances as a country leading up to the inauguration.

The launch of the Indivisible Guide has been enormously helpful in teaching everyday citizens how to effectively amplify our voices to our representatives in Congress and test our representation in Congress. I’ve never seen so many Americans come off the sidelines, actively learning about our government.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something about these efforts that kept bugging me. We had a few small victories early on, such as thwarting the late night attempt to remove the ethics provision, to delaying some of the Congressional hearings being rushed. No matter how many calls we made, it didn’t feel like we were getting anywhere long term. It felt like we were rearranging the chairs on the titanic.

Then, I realized what is was. We weren’t gaining traction. We were creating a ton of activity, yet it wasn’t going to stop our Congress from steamrolling over the checks and balances. The confirmation hearings have shown us exactly who Trump is filling the swamp with, with revelations from theses proceedings revealing facts that would have (and did) sink nominees in the past. Yet, the continued rushing of these nominees in spite of the conflicts of interest or blatant lying on the qualification forms, make our ethical checks and balances procedures meaningless.

With the inauguration appearing to be moving full steam ahead tomorrow, there are two things specifically that have awakened me in the last two months as a youngish person in this country.

  1. The realization that our vote as citizens is not weighted equally nor accurately, as three electors in Washington State showed us they were willing to pay the fine and vote for Colin Powell (who was never on our ballots). In that moment, I realized my belief growing up that every vote matters, is false.
  2. The realization that our freedoms will not remain free, if we don’t wake up to the threats challenging these freedoms and act on them.

Both Barack and Michelle have been very clear in the last couple weeks about democracy. Do not take your freedoms for granted. Our rights aren’t handed to us. This right has to be earned. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Like the generations before us, we have to do our part to preserve & protect these freedoms.

My generation grew up believing threats to our freedoms always come from outside America. After this election, I believe these threats are coming from within. Our right to vote is not guaranteed. Our right to access the internet equally is not guaranteed. The freedom of the press is not guaranteed.

If we want these rights to be guaranteed in our lifetime, WE have to stand up and fight for these rights. Like the generations before us did. The battlefield has changed. We are now fighting threats online, as well as on the ground, and at same time attempting to win over the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens.

Before this election, I believed if I showed up to vote, I was an engaged citizen. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve learned there’s much more responsibility to being a engaged citizen if I want my freedoms to remain free. We have a duty to participate. Government sets the rules we live by. Some of us benefited previously without much effort of our own, so it wasn’t on the forefront of our mind to participate beyond the bare minimum.

The time has come to make a choice.

To fight for our votes to count.

To fight for a free and neutral internet.

To fight for the press to remain free.

If you can’t imagine a future without these things, neither can I. These are the pillars that keep our country a democratic republic, the land of the free. These are the pillars that allow us to keep fighting for other shared values, the ones we want this land to stand for.

Don’t compromise on these. Figure out what county precinct you live in and go to your next neighborhood meeting. These rights won’t remain rights unless you choose to get involved. I hope you make that choice.