Public Protest Can Uphold Democracy

Russell Jaffe, Columnist

The U.S. was simultaneously shocked and horrified by Donald Trump’s win late on election night. In an equally alarming turn of events, Democrats failed to win back control of either the Senate or the House of Representatives. With the Supreme Court likely to soon fall into the hands of conservatives as well, many of the checks and balances that were meant to keep our government stable are no longer effective. For all intents and purposes, the fate of our nation rests in the hands of an egotist who has no experience in politics and is currently facing more than 75 pending lawsuits. It’s now time for us, as the American people, to figure out what we are going to do about it.

It must be acknowledged that a sizable portion of the public is unlikely to see any need to take action at all, content to cast its votes and watch from the sidelines. Putting aside voter intimidation against Democrats, and despite losing the popular vote by more than 200,000 votes, Trump was elected fair and square. However, for those of you who feel that your voice was not represented in this election or that Trump’s actions — including publicly mocking disabled people, denying scientifically proven facts like climate change and encouraging foreign hackers to spy on Clinton — should disqualify him as a presidential candidate, I would encourage you to take a stand. Doing so may be the only option we have left.

The first and most obvious way to protest the Trump presidency is to simply make your objections heard. Through demonstrations, op-eds and petitions, even ordinary citizens can raise their voices all the way to the capitol. Organizing demonstrations, while risking police brutality or counter protests, can show solidarity with people most affected by a Trump presidency. In other cases, it may be more effective and physically safer to publish a petition that embodies the voice of the people instead.

Phone banking can also be used to catch the attention of congresspeople and senators. For example, activists recently gathered at Oberlin College to flood government offices with warnings about the serious human rights violations and environmental costs of the Dakota Access Pipeline — a plan that Trump will likely support. The voice of the people may be the last of the checks and balances that still remains viable. It is no exaggeration to say that American democracy will likely not survive a Trump presidency without it.

On a more extreme note, impeachment remains a possibility. All cases for impeachment require an elected official to violate one of three standards: exceeding the bounds of the Constitution, grossly inappropriate behavior for the office or using the powers of the presidential office for personal gain. If Trump openly bragging about sexual assault is any indication, it is highly likely that he will be guilty of all three during his time in office.

Beyond attacking the Trump presidency, an even more important task is caring for those who rightfully fear the future that a Trump presidency will bring. Immigrants, people of color, low-income families, the LGBTQ community and more are almost certain to experience the horrifying effects of Trump’s agenda first hand. This is a time at which Americans must stand together more than ever before.

I highly encourage all readers to reach out to their families, their friends and even strangers. At this moment in history, everyone must know that they are loved, they are not alone, and above all, we will endure together. The following years will be a dark time, but we can still do the best we can with what we have. As long as we do, I truly believe that eventually, the world will begin to move in the right direction once again. For now, stay determined.