Activism Necessary to Resist Trump Presidency

Maureen Coffey, Business Manager

I never really considered the implications of a Donald Trump presidency until Tuesday. I knew he was running. I watched his speeches, rallies and debates. All of the signs were there, and yet until early Wednesday morning, I had not truly considered a Trump presidency.

We can — and I’m sure many will — spend the next several years debating what went wrong: Sexism? A whiter electorate than expected? FBI Director James Comey’s late reopening of Clinton’s email case? But no answer will change the outcome.

Our government is a democracy. For better or for worse, our president is chosen neither by their résumé nor their objectively calculated costs and benefits. They are elected by the American people. On Tuesday, the people spoke, and many want Donald Trump.

So what now? The Canadian immigration website crashed Wednesday morning as it was stormed with traffic. For some, leaving the country is certainly an option. As I reflect, I keep coming back to the words of First Lady Michelle Obama as she addressed Oberlin’s Class of 2015:

“I want to urge you to actively seek out the most contentious, polarized, gridlocked places you can find. Because so often, throughout our history, those have been the places where progress really happens — the places where minds are changed, lives transformed, where our great American story unfolds.”

We have an opportunity before us. We must engage with our fellow Americans, and we must bridge the gaps. If we run from this, we concede not only this election, we concede our country and our values. If we leave, we say that we will allow Trump’s hatefulness to define our nation. If we stay, if we fight, we tell the world that Trump does not represent all Americans.

The U.S. has had bad presidents, bad years and bad decades. Those do not define us. Our legacy is 240 years of political discourse and continual improvement. Two hundred and forty years of believing that We The People can determine the path of our nation. Over the next four years, we must be the people who determine whether we will continue to uphold these values.

We must be the people who go into struggling communities and find solutions together. We must be the people who protect our friends from every race, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. We must continue to use our Constitutional rights to enact fundamental change in American society. If we truly believe that liberal, democratic ideals are best for our country, then we must help others to see that.

We are in the midst of an ideological war. Our battles are fought not with weapons but with words. We are led not by generals but by civic leaders. Our aim should not be to beat the other side into submission but to unite both sides in mutual understanding and respect.

There are now fewer than 730 days until the midterm elections and there is much to be done before then. There is no way to change Tuesday’s outcome, but how we respond is in our hands.

What we must do is not easy. It will be hard, and it may even be dangerous. But for the love of my country and all those in it, I will not run away. I will stay and fight.