I appreciate the anger over this year’s presidential election. I’m just as despondent that Trump will be our next president. But to those whose protests blew up my Twitter feed: I have to ask the question: Where were you when the Democrats nominated the wrong candidate this past July? Where were you when the AP called the primary in June before California had even voted? Where were you when your fellow Americans were getting abused and shot to death on Facebook live? Where was your anger when your fellow Americans were getting sprayed with rubber bullets and tear gassed to protect our water?
I am happy that you are taking action in the streets over an issue, but doesn’t it seem a little too late? To get the candidate you want elected it takes legwork, educating fellow voters, phone-banking, donations and much, much more. Did you do any of these for Hillary Clinton? I think it’s looking pretty obvious that it wasn’t enough to simply announce #ImWithHer and mark your ballot on election day.
The race to the presidency started back in 2015, when did you get involved? I’m seeing a lot of self-examination, lots of Democratic voters in shock and saying they didn’t do enough to help her win. After all of the polls and warnings, the consistently pathetic turnout at Clinton events, the extremely close primary with Bernie Sanders, the coverage of the Wikileaks revelations, did you really think she would win this thing as a shoe-in? Forget what the mainstream media kept yapping about, it's clear now that there was much collusion and coordination between Clinton’s campaign and major news outlets in her favor.
Let’s look at the facts: the American people, as Bernie Sanders once again just reiterated, were more concerned about the issues of wages, jobs, and the economy. This was frankly more important to them than getting the first woman president elected. You may not agree with how many Trump supporters are channeling their anger inappropriately by targeting other races and other cultures, but you cannot deny that their anger and frustration has legitimate causes. It is extremely misguided, yes, but the root causes still need to be addressed.
As many have been pointing out over the past several months and once again this week: the Democratic Party must suffer the blame for their part in the failure to elect a strong challenger to Donald Trump.
And today I am hearing lots of folks talking about remaking the Democratic Party and frankly, I’m not in that camp, unless it includes the ideals of the progressive Green Party platform and the Democratic Socialists of America. Both groups who continue to be the “party of the people”.
As it stands right now, the Democratic Party has rubber stamped neoliberalism, corporate welfare and incremental progress on clean energy and climate justice when bold action is required. They continue to lead us into conflict in the Middle East and turn a blind eye to drone strikes on innocent civilians in foreign countries, a blind eye to police brutality and racial justice, a blind eye to the escalation at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and a blind eye to standing up against trade deals like the TPP that will continue to gut our economy.
The Democratic Party showed their cards when they nominated Hillary Clinton: a candidate who did the absolute bare minimum to address the needs of the working class and the hurting country, a candidate so completely entrenched in service to her corporate donors and political insiders that even as the story broke about the misdeeds of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she invited Wasserman Schultz back into her campaign circle as a slap in the face to the millions of voters who chose Clinton’s primary challenger. The arrogance of this action alone should speak volumes about the “hard work” that was done by Clinton to campaign for the vote of the American people.
When Bernie Sanders was talking about the issues that affect the poor, the working class, healthcare, college, climate change, racial and social justice issues, his ideas were marked as “pie in the sky”, unrealistic, and a fairytale. Supporters of these issues and of the candidate himself were labeled as ridiculous whiners who did not really understand the way politics works in this country. They were seen as unrealistic and expecting something that would never come to pass.
What of the tens of thousands of voters who showed up to support these same ideas and this platform in consistently red states like Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, and other parts of the West? (Not to mention the tens of thousands who showed up at other rallies for Sanders all over the nation.) Any wonder how they voted on election day?
Let’s not chalk it up to sexism. Let’s not cheapen the reality like this. Yes sexism is real and a major problem in the United States to this day. These voters were not voting for the male challenger simply because they did not want a woman president. Did some voters not trust a female president to do the job? I think so. But can the 13 million votes that Bernie Sanders won in the primary be attributed to sexism? Can the numbers and the data that back up the failing economic prospects of millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump be attributed to sexism? Of course not. If you believe this, well therein lies the fairytale.
So now that you are charged up and ready to fight, now that you’ve been awakened, stay consistent. Channel your anger, your energy into showing up for the small fights, the boring stuff, learn as much as you can about the political process and who does what and who doesn’t do what. Don’t listen to the media. Use your own judgment.
There isn’t a guru or an expert who can tell you how to proceed. Don’t make a big show of it on social media, just do it. Call attention to it, but take your personal story out of it unless it’s remarkable. Follow the numbers, the data, and the facts (not Nate Silver). Do your own research. Do your homework. Find independent sources, not tied to corporate media conglomerates. Stand up for your neighbor even if you don’t know them personally, even if you think it won’t impact you. Stand up just because. Get to work. This affects you, but it’s not all about you. It’s about your actions, not your feelings.