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Post-Election Thoughts: One Year Later

This morning, I woke up with hope in my heart, for the first time since November 9, 2016. What a difference a year makes.

In 2017, a transgender woman beat the incumbent conservative who introduced the anti-trans bathroom-bill in Virginia. And she did it by running on a platform of traffic reduction. The boyfriend of a victim of gun violence beat the delegate with an “A” rating from the NRA. A civil rights attorney who sued the police department on behalf of Black Lives Matter became a prosecutor in Pennsylvania.

For more inspirational stories from the 2017 election, see this article from the Washington Post.

I know there is still a huge fight ahead, but I’m ready. My exhaustion and depression are slightly subsiding.

This was my status on November 9th last year. How did I know I was REALLY going to need those stretchy pants? (The “Trump Ten”, it’s a real thing friends.)

So yes, I have had my fair share of ice cream in the past year. Also, wine, cheese, bread, and even the occasional sheet cake – eaten with a fork straight from the box.

There was a trending meme on Twitter yesterday – photos of how we feel pre- and post-election. I couldn’t decide which of these was more me. Depending upon the day, I feel each of these:

Sometimes, I feel ready to fight all day every day, and other days I want to drink wine and hide from the world. Some days, I feel both in the same day, or even the same hour.

For a more accurate representation, here are actual photos of me, pre- and post-election:

*Actual unretouched photos from 11/8/16 and 11/8/17 (Scary, I know)

I think you can see, the year has taken a toll. I swear I’ve aged ten years since November 9, 2016. Every single day since the election, I feel that I must do battle to protect our democracy. Because every SINGLE day, the administration does something to dismantle it.

I also scream from my home, my car, and my social media accounts – “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!” – daily. This is important because I feel we are becoming numb to the undoing of our democratic norms. From the EPA administrator (the vastly unqualified Scott Pruitt) barring scientists from advising the EPA  (This is not normal!), to the President’s threatening nuclear war over Twitter (This is not normal!), to Trump lamenting that “The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI.” (THIS IS REALLY, REALLY NOT NORMAL!!)

Often times, I feel like I’m living in a weird dystopian novel…and I just want it to end.

Many say that taking to social media to talk about politics is a waste of time, but I disagree. I can’t tell you how many times people have reached out to me in the last year via text, email, phone – or even pulled me aside at a party. The conversation usually begins with them saying “I feel like I’m going crazy and I need someone to talk to. I know it’s safe to talk to you.”

There are a lot of people out there struggling and hurting during this presidency – people who you may not even imagine, because they keep their political views under wraps. If I can be a sounding board, I hope that it takes some of the daily burden of living in the post-Trump era off of them. More than that, I hope to encourage people to channel their frustration into action, and be more involved in our political process.

Granted, I have lost friends because of my political activism and transparency. But those who do not like me – because I am outspoken about preserving our democracy, protecting our children from gun violence, and standing up for those most vulnerable in our society – are not really people whose opinions matter much to me.

And I’m not just sitting here on my computer all day, lamenting the downfall of our democracy on social media. I have seriously increased my political activism. I have always been politically active, kept up on the news, and voted (in every election since 1992). In the past year, I’ve taken it to a new level – participating in multiple protests, joining political organizations, contacting my representatives on issues weekly, volunteering to register voters and signing up to be a poll worker in 2018.

The increase in political awareness and social activism across this country is the big upside of the past election. The more women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks that are involved in politics – either by running, contacting representatives, and most importantly, VOTING – the better the future of our country will be.

The election results of 2017 show that this is already happening. I am optimistic about the future now – one where we work together for the common good. My hope is we reject divisive politics and focus on actual issues and solutions (like health care, and infrastructure, and climate change) – instead of arguing about who stood or knelt, or prayed or didn’t, or said Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

I know this past year has been rough friends, but I hope that you are feeling better too. I hope you feel energized to take action. I hope you will join me in putting down the bowl of ice cream and getting to work. The 2018 election will be here before we know it.

 

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Yes, Now is the Time

As I dropped my kids off at school today and watched them walk away, I unexpectedly teared up. I have shed many tears over the past few days, but my reaction today took me by surprise.

On the way home, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Yes, it is time.”

I will not listen to the people who say that I’m not honoring the victims of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown by bringing up the issue of sensible gun control. Because for me, I would not be honoring the victims if I did not fight for this issue. Right now, while everyone is dialed in and listening, is exactly the time.

To me, it’s not political. What is political about wanting to protect my own children and, in fact all children, from this happening again?

The issue of violence at this level is incomprehensible, and the solutions complicated. It’s no easy fix. But to ignore the possibility of better, to say “now is not the time” or “we don’t need gun control, we need more guns”, well, I just simply don’t understand it.

Why can’t we look at solutions? Why can’t we expect better? Why must we wait to do these things? I believe this incident leaves us without a choice. We simply must address these issues and do it now.

Nothing is off the table. Let’s look at mental health care. Let’s look at gun control. Let’s look at security in our school systems. Let’s look at educational opportunities. Let’s look at violent videos games.

Notice at no time in this post did I mention a BAN on guns. I just said better gun control, so please don’t start with the second amendment stuff. Yes, I know we have the right to bear arms. But, nowhere does our constitution say we have a right to bear semi-automatic assault weapons. I don’t understand the pro-gun hunting crowd’s stance on this either. I mean, the last time I looked, hunters weren’t using 30-round clips to kill a deer. I would think that most true sportsman would agree that these types of weapons are unnecessary.

We can also do a much better job in regulating who can purchase guns. It should be at least as hard to get a gun as it is to get a driver’s license. Why is this controversial? Who on earth wants guns in the hands of the mentally unstable or those with criminal records?

And stop with the criminals will still get guns thing too. The guns used in most of these recent mass shootings were all purchased legally, not from some underground black market.

Oh, and the, they would just use other weapons thing? Last time I looked, you couldn’t kill 26 people in under a minute with a knife.

Why can’t we just consider the possibility that it should be easier in this country to get mental health care and harder to purchase assault weapons? Why is that a controversial statement?

As mothers, we have to ban together to be the voice of reason. Let’s make our voices louder than those of the NRA. Now is the time and I fear if we don’t do it, no one will. Until the next tradgedy, when everyone argues about it on TV and in social media, and then a bunch of people tell us “it’s not the time”, and then everyone does absolutely NOTHING to fix the problem…until it happens again…then we hit repeat…

I want off this spin cycle. The status quo is not working. It’s time for change.

Instead of just talking about it, I am going to be more active. If you would like to be part of the change too, here are some things that we can do right now:

In addition to better gun control, we also need to look at the inadequate mental health care funding in our country and address the level of security in schools.

But for me, school security must stop way short of armed guards in every school, and teachers carrying concealed weapons, and teaching our children to live in fear. If the level of security at our schools needs to be armed guards to take out shooters wielding semi-automatic assault weapons aimed at our children, then I’m out. I will kick and scream and protest outside our schools before I sign up for that gig.

Most importantly, as moms we can love. Love our children. Love other people’s children. Love people who agree with you. Love people who disagree with you. Love other parents. Extend a hand to those who need help.

Change is in the air, I can feel it. I am hopeful, but beyond just being hopeful, I intend to do something this time. I can no longer stand idly by and let my voice be drowned out. This issue is too important.

I choose love. I choose change. Now.