January Will Come


Never in my life have I seen a woman rise and fight as valiantly and successfully for the presidency as Hillary Clinton did this year. Following Donald Trump's victory in the general election, he has quickly moved to staff his transition team with family members and other problematic staff members riddled with conflicts of interest.

Now is not the time to abandon your public support for women and minorities on social media. Do not wait until January to ask questions, demand accountability.

Hillary Clinton told us in her concession speech that democracy demands we accept the peaceful transfer of power enshrined in our Constitution.

"...we don't just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them."

Since then, I have asked myself what a successful and lawful resistance to a new fascist regime would look like? What would it say about me if I did not resist?

Often I pass General George Washington's headquarters on my way into Harvard Square. My ancestors fought in the Lexington Alarm, making Boston the seat of the American Revolution. Today the Boston area is an elite academic powerhouse of thinkers who hone their crafts inside some of the world's best universities.

So why does Harvard Yard feel so silent and cold to me right now?

This quote from an article by Roberta W. Francis seems particularly relevant:

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, "In the new code of laws, remember the ladies and do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands." John Adams replied, "I cannot but laugh. Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems."

It has been 227 years since the U.S. Constitution was ratified by white male slave owners, but America has never elected a woman president. As of 2016, the presidency remains a boys club of mostly elite white men. Only once has America elected a black man to the Oval Office.

This is personal to me because my grandmother was born into a generation of women who did not necessarily have the right to vote. I was born during a time when no woman had ever sat on the US Supreme Court, where abortion and birth control were newly legal.

When Hillary Clinton harkened us back to the laws that our nation was founded on, I felt it appropriate to contemplate the fairness of a system that forgets that the first black man (Thurgood Marshall) was not appointed to the Supreme Court until 1968. In fact, SCOTUS would remain a boys club until Conservative favorite Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed to the bench in 1981.

What I remember vividly from my Reagan era childhood is the excitement of Justice O'Connor's appointment to SCOTUS, and the disappointment that followed after the Equal Rights Amendment was not ratified. I remember how controversial it was that my school had begun teaching a sex education curriculum that included women's bodies and birth control, and the shame that went with every mention of the female body in and outside the class. The LGBTQ community was encouraged to stay in the closet as the AIDS epidemic raged and privileged Republicans encouraged doctors oppose treatment on moral grounds. Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign supported a racist policy that sent thousands of convicted addicts to prison instead of treatment.

These were deadly and oppressive times that I do look back on nostalgically, nor do I accept our Constitution's failures without reservation. But this also why I think that the people most shocked by the outcome of Election 2016 were the men who thought they had been good feminists and that the fight for women's equality was over. It now seems soberingly clear to me that all the pollsters had to do was look at the portraits of the last 54 election winners to know that the establishment would fight back virulently to the notion of anyone except an elite white man being in the Oval Office.

Whether it is possible to be a billionaire without being part of the establishment, I don't know. The problem is not only that Hillary Clinton was not elected in 2016, it is that America will be led by another unqualified wealthy white supremacist BECAUSE he promised to bring back the violent establishment which has for so long oppressed us.

Trump did not win the popular vote, but if we allow his administration to take office in January 2017, America will do more than issue a statement that we are tired of considering the voices of women and minorities at the power tables. We will endorse a virulent white supremacist, a billionaire who would continue to misuse the law and our courts as a [taxpayer funded] playground to oppress the less fortunate; he will continue to use racism, violence, misogyny, rape, objectification and subjugation to shut us up.

On Thursday, I watched with great sadness as America's first black president pledged his cooperation to help a democratically elected white supremacist transition smoothly into the Oval Office. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for First Lady Michelle Obama, an accomplished woman in her own right, to welcome Melania Trump, her plagiarist, into a White House that was, as FLOTUS put it, built by slaves.

When we enter the anonymity of the voting booth, it may be easy for some to forget that we are connected to larger communities who think differently than we do. That anyone would allow America to send such a message to the world in 2016 demonstrates the profound disconnect between the values friends have shared on an individual level versus what they will allow their reputations to be used for in society.

With the balance of powers now so deeply skewed towards the Conservative agenda, I recognize that it is a dangerous time to attempt to change the Constitution. I hope that we can fight oppression with peace, dignity, and kindness. But please, don't abandon me in this Handmaid's Tale nightmare.