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.