Vote Them Out

It’s been nearly two years since the devastation of Election Day 2016, when the American public decided to elevate someone who represents the worst among us in almost every way to the country’s highest office.

In that time, Republicans have been both busy and effective. They’ve laid out an alarming agenda and achieved much of it. The far-right has become emboldened. The cowards who disguised themselves as moderate conservatives throughout the Obama years have been empowered to let their true colors show.

With Trump at the helm, the GOP has launched attacks on women, people of color, Jewish people, trans people, low-income communities, the press, and countless other constituencies that contribute greatly to this country’s vibrancy and diversity.

They’ve proudly flown a flag of deeply troubling nationalism and used it to distort mainstream rhetoric. Even last week, TIME tweeted an article titled, “How Americans Lost Their National Identity” with the caption, “Nationalism has gotten a bad reputation. But it’s what America needs right now.”

Every single elected Republican who stands by the national party, from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell down to city council members across the country, is complicit in this administration’s hatred and bigotry. And it’s time to vote every single one of them out.

Yes, every single one. The time to look past party differences in local elections is far gone, as is the time for hope in bipartisan cooperation. We’ve played that game too many times, and the conservative strategy has triumphed on almost every occasion. Now is a time for strength, for refusing to tolerate this anymore.

And, as if the election didn’t already feel poignant, last Saturday’s synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, which left 11 people dead in what is believed to be the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history, makes this coming Tuesday feel even more urgent.

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting, Trump — whose administration saw a 57 percent jump in anti-Semitic attacks nationwide in its first year — blamed the media for the murders. In the same week, he launched a number of different attacks on immigrants with his trademark racist and inflammatory rhetoric.

In no way will voting on Tuesday fix all of the issues we face. Trump is merely a representative of this country’s deep evils. But it is nonetheless a necessary step. When Oberlin students vote, either here or in their home states, they must do so with the atrocities of this president and all who stand by him in mind.

We must also be discerning, and notice when Republican leaders — in Ohio and across the country — weakly admonish Trump and then continue to do his bidding. Voters cannot allow themselves to be swayed by these empty platitudes.

The battles we now face are monumental to the point of being overwhelming. Climate change is an increasing threat; the balance of the Supreme Court has shifted right and could be cemented as such, should another seat open up. Gun violence continues to claim the lives of tens of thousands of people annually — including the people, predominantly people of color, who are murdered by police officers every year.

Republican leaders and those who stand by them are unwilling to either believe these issues exist or to take them seriously, and are therefore unworthy of a seat at the table.

This is not to say that Democrats have all the answers; they certainly do not, and have shown time and again that they have significant weaknesses of their own.

But we would rather sit down with people who acknowledge that trans people exist, who put things like a higher minimum wage and a compassionate immigration system on the table, and who want to find solution to the crises of police violence and climate change, instead of negotiating with a power-seeking group that has fallen in line behind violence, corruption, and white nationalism in the name of partisan victory. Wouldn’t you?

On Nov. 9, 2016 — the day after Trump was elected — Oberlin’s campus was silent. Something terrible had happened in the world, and its impacts reverberated strongly here. November 2018, our next significant chance to attempt to halt the attack on social justice and our collective values, seemed impossibly far away.

Well, it’s here now, and we have a chance to at least stem some of this country’s collective bleeding, but only if we fight for it. Campus voter turnout needs to be better than it was last time, when we and much of the country were caught unawares by Trump’s victory.

If you are able to vote, remember on Tuesday that this administration’s horrific acts are not made possible by Trump, but by all those who condone and support him — and it’s our responsibility to vote every last one of them out.