When Politics Gets Personal

by Lauren Footman

Ever since November 9, I have been a in a state of disbelief, not because of the electorate’s decision to select the Republican Party’s candidate, as the President elect, but at the events that have occurred since. There have been a spike in hate crimes, even more divisive rhetoric being spoke and unfortunately there is a clear correlation between these events and the 2016 election season. In this time, so much ignorance and intolerance was normalized.

It is proving quite hard to undo this damage to our collective consciousness.

America is a country that prides itself on diversity, inclusion, freedom, liberty and opportunity, but this time since the Election post-election has been a period of great division. The election cycle definitely served as a catalyst to exacerbate ignorance and intolerance across the country.

During my pre-election blog, I mentioned that I had to keep reminding myself that God is in control either way, and He knows all things. I must say, the time following the election has been a true test, because I must remember not to lean toward my own understanding.

As I watch the news and learn of the individuals being vetted for cabinet-level positions, I am dismayed. Dismayed because some of these people have a very public history of making discriminatory statements, and creating and supporting discriminatory laws. In 2016, the fact that we are having conversations about a woman’s right to choose, or if candidates support the KKK, is not ok.

This cannot be normalized.

Many people have told marginalized communities to just get over it; he won fair and square.

Number one, the fair and square part is up for debate, and number two, we are fighting for our humanity, so we cannot and will not just get over it. I am concerned about the future of our country, and the well-being of generations to come. We have new leadership who is not equipped with the knowledge or skillset to lead this country. It is evident that leaders in the next administration do not believe in the values that our country preaches at home and abroad.

As a female, better yet as black female, this election reinforced that no matter how qualified I am, I may be overlooked for certain opportunities because of racist misogynist patriarchy. If there was a comparison of resumes and attributes for both parties, to me there was just a clear choice.

We have a Vice President-elect with a horrid voting record on reproductive and LGBTQ rights, and this was all ignored. I don’t expect to agree on everything with my elected officials, however I do expect them not to be discriminatory and dehumanizing.

This election was personal for me and my communities.

I have had conversations about politics and ideologies like never before, at work and on public transportation with strangers. There was so much at stake in this election, which is why this is all so concerning. Although unpleased with the election results, it did make me double down on my fight for a more just society, and the need for intersectional approaches to social justice reform.

We as a country will have to show resistance to intolerance and unjust policies and rhetoric that is being put forth; to do this citizens must build local infrastructure, to train and educate citizens on upcoming elections and issues impacting our communities.

The 2018 midterm elections are very crucial. I encourage all citizens across the country to start building a diverse pipeline of progressive leaders to run for elected office, and or become organizers in their local communities. Progressives not only need people to run for seats in Congress, but also other local positions such as mayor, district attorney, and school boards.

Additionally, we must build relationships with elected officials, to ensure officials are representing the interest of their constituents.

Furthermore, the country needs all organizations, elected officials and individuals to continue voter registration efforts and to educate their communities on down the ballots questions for all races, by hosting teach-ins and encouraging civic engagement by attending local hearings, and public meetings—understanding all of this has an impact on how we experience life.

I encourage all citizens to show resistance to the intolerance and injustice occurring across country that has been exacerbated by the 2016 presidential election. Moreover, we have to reinforce, that we expect all branches of government to serve and protect all citizens regardless of our identities.

This election has definitely reinforced the importance of having spiritual relationships. I recently re-watch the film Selma, and saw how what’s occurring in 2016 is very similar to what our ancestors experienced during the 50’s and 60’s. I also observed how Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others stayed so rooted in their faith, which proved to be such a huge part of their strength and effectiveness in the Civil Rights Movement.

I believe the blueprint has already been written.

It is time now for a new generation of leaders to pick up the torch and continue this fight for a more just society.

Photo via flickr user Darryl Smith