As a lifetime Democrat and person with strong liberal beliefs, I felt deep despair when Trump won the 2016 election. It was shocking for all the obvious reasons, but also because under the Obama administration, I’d gotten quite complacent. I wasn’t nearly as politically involved as I have been at other times in my life.
When Obama was elected in 2008, my kids were nine and seven, and I was working hard to become a published novelist. So it was such a relief to have him at our country’s helm. I had the luxury of spending a good deal of time with my family and my writing, and I trusted that our President and his team—as well as the leaders of my state of Massachusetts—would keep Americans safe, and look out for the rights of the marginalized. I applauded Obama’s work on immigration reform and climate change, cheered when the Freedom of Marriage Act passed, and wept with pride whenever I listened to him talk about his hopes and dreams for an America where people of all colors, faiths, genders, and lifestyles could be happy. Yes, I believed it was possible, and I believed we had the right people in power to make it happen. How much help did they need from a busy, middle-class, suburban mom? I voted, signed petitions every now and then, and shared things on Facebook and Twitter. But that was about it.
This election, though, has both saddened and awakened me. And as many have already said, there’s so much to do now. Because Trump isn’t the joke that our media painted him to be during the exhausting election season. Maybe we felt hope for a brief moment after his meeting with Obama, but now that he’s heavily into appointing people to his transition team, it’s clear that the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic agenda he preached on the campaign trail wasn’t just a corrupt trick to get votes. No, this guy is the real deal.
The best word I have to describe my feelings is sick. Ironically, in the weeks leading up to the election, I was ill with perhaps the worst cold I’ve ever had, but that was a slight discomfort compared to the nausea I now feel in my guts every day. It hits me the moment I awaken, and stays with me until I manage to fall asleep at night.
The only comfort comes from my brothers and sisters in this country who feel the same pain, and are also gearing up to work. Certainly, there are plenty of options. There are the obvious petitions to sign, and the calls to our elected representatives to stop Trump from turning America into the kind of fascist state he apparently fancies. But I want to get involved on a more personal level too. Perhaps I’ll volunteer at Planned Parenthood, a women’s shelter, or on a suicide hotline.
But I’m also a mom to two teenagers now, and a wife, and a daughter. Oh, and I’m still extremely devoted to my writing, so I want to make sure to pace myself. Having once spent a year working full time at MassPIRG, I’m well aware of the burnout factor, and this Trump situation will probably last four years.
So one thing I’ve already committed to is participating in the Women’s March on Washington DC on January 21, 2017, along with my daughter. I feel the March will make a magnificent, important statement to Mr. Trump, who’s clearly impressed by big things and big crowds. He has said himself that he couldn’t believe he’d lose the election because he had such large crowds at his rallies, so I want him to see a bigger crowd than he ever imagined on his first day in office. I want him to look out and see millions of people representing every group he’s caused to feel marginalized—women, Muslims, the LBGTQ community, immigrants, minorities, Jews—and maybe get some sense of what it means to be President of the United States.
I also hope and believe the March in Washington will help me figure out what I can do to be most effective as an American during this “new normal” that we’re faced with. I look to women like Elizabeth Warren who continues to fight for the marginalized every day, and take inspiration from Hillary Clinton, who spoke just the other day at the Children’s Defense Fund. That must’ve been incredibly difficult for her for so many reasons, but Hillary’s not giving up, and if she keep fighting, well, so can I. Please join me, in whatever way you can. More info about the Women’s March can be found here.