Never before has our President-elect occupied the White House without first serving in our government or our military. Never before has our Senate refused to consider our President’s nominee to our Supreme Court. Never before has our country elected a man with so little known about the policies he will implement as our Commander-in-Chief.
Welcome to Never-Never Land!
Last Tuesday’s election marshaled in a new era of uncertainty. My husband and I now fear that Republicans might successfully strip away rights and protections afforded to us over the last eight years, not the least of which is the freedom to marry. The all-star experts at Lambda Legal surmise that it would be “extremely unlikely” that the Supreme Court would overturn a recent ruling like the one that brought marriage equality to all 50 states. While I hold out hope that they’re right, the truth is we’re witnessing a number of “never” moments that seemed improbable – if not impossible – just a year ago.
As the oldest man ever to be elected to the Oval Office, Donald Trump will have access to a near-unparalleled amount of power. In addition to running the eleven executive agencies like the CIA, the EPA, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Election Commission, President-Elect Trump will oversee our military, fill more than 6,000 federal positions including judicial and diplomatic posts, and sign legislation passed by Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. Thanks to unprecedented obstruction by the Republican Senate majority, he will also likely fill at least one seat on our Supreme Court.
If President Trump leads our country the way that Candidate Trump ran his campaign, this new era will require our own list of “never” moments.
- Never let it be “normal” to have our President and Vice President empower white supremacists, “reparative” therapists, and right-wing extremists like Steven Bannon and Laura Ingraham.
- Never stop fighting for policy and systemic change that advances equality and justice for all, promotes a fair democracy, strengthens an inclusive and robust economy, protects our environment and our national security, and expands opportunities for working Americans.
- Never stop pushing back against a conservative agenda that seeks to limit personal freedoms, gut services for the poor and working families, and tilt the playing field even more toward the wealthy and powerful.
- Never turn our backs on the most vulnerable in our society – many of whom will be the targets of overly militarize police units, union busters, deportation forces, and a rabidly anti-choice Congress.
- Never stop holding all of our elected leaders accountable for their actions, their rhetoric, and the resulting impact that both will have on our country and world.
- Never forget that we wield and increase our power with each new candidate recruited, each new activist mobilized, each new protest planned, and each new vote cast.
We enter this Never-Never Land with a president-elect who admires Vladimir Putin’s leadership style, refuses to disclose his personal financial interests, distrusts and denounces most media outlets, and has a precarious relationship with the truth. This new American moment will require a heightened level of effort by watchdog groups, legal advocates, and direct service providers. It will also require a new level of dedication by Americans – most especially those who voted for Trump/Pence – to hold our leaders accountable for both what they promise and what they deliver.
In Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie wrote: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
In this new frontier, the role of artists and creative thinkers has never been more important to keep us imagining what’s possible. We need creative minds to act as social change agents to bring grace, humanity, and beauty into this polarized and overly political moment. We need artists to hold a mirror to our society and challenge us to dream and bring about our best new world.
As we adjust to life in Never-Never Land, we can never forget that our power will not only depend upon our ability to fight but also our readiness to fly.