It’s been more than a week since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. However, many of us still feel despondent; afraid of the fact that our country will be governed by a racist, misogynistic and xenophobic demagogue for the next four years. Yes, this is an extremely hard pill to swallow, but it’s time for us on the left to accept this grim reality and make sure that it never happens again.
How Could This Happen?
How could a man who has repeatedly attacked women, Latino, Muslims, and African Americans become president of the United States? Not only does Donald Trump have no political experience, but he launched his campaign by calling Mexicans “drug dealers and rapists.” He also promised to ban Muslim refugees from entering the U.S., led a campaign accusing the nation’s first black president of being an undocumented citizen, and admitted to sexually assaulting women, back in 2005. Yet, he was elected as the leader of the free world.
How? Racism, sexism, fear, the media, “whitelash,” FBI Director James Comey, Russia, compliant Republicans that refused to publicly denounce Trump, and the Electoral College all played a role in Trump’s win.
It’s Time to Wipe Our Tears
“I am extremely surprised. I honestly don’t know how this happened,” said Natalie Gonzalez, Esq. a millennial-aged lawyer from Brooklyn, NY, at Hillary Clinton’s official election night rally in New York City. “For many, many years, I had heard friends of mine talk about racism. I had never personally experienced it, and I thought that maybe they were overdoing it. Now, my heart breaks, because I know that it’s true,” she said, as tears streamed down her face. “I really can’t believe it. I thought I was going to have a great night, but instead, I’m here crying,” she said. “People here are just crying.”
Natalie was right, many of Clinton’s supporters at the Jacob Javits Convention in Manhattan were visibly upset on Election Night. The stench of defeat grew thicker by the hour as we watched the dream of electing the first female president evaporate into thin air.
“I don’t know where we’re going to go from here, honestly. I really don’t know,” said Natalie, as we cried together.
I’m still angry and disappointed by this election, especially as a black woman, but I refuse to shed any more tears. The deplorables of America won this battle, but there’s a long war ahead and I’m ready to fight.
If you’re like me and you want to take action, here are four things that we can do right now to win in Trump’s America.
1. The Tea Party Got It Right: What We Can Learn From This Movement
Following the election of the first black president in 2008, extremists on the right used racism, hatred and fear to organize and recruit white Americans into a group called the Tea Party. The movement then successfully ran and elected local, state, and national officials within the Republican Party, which supported and pushed their agenda. We on the left need to take a page from their book and do the same thing.
Now, I’ve heard some of my friends from the left argue that there is no way to change a corrupt system, and that we should not stand with a system that has never stood with us, as people of color. Though I understand this perspective, realistically speaking, it is not feasible to dismantle or overthrow our entire system, then replace it with God-knows-what. Instead, we should organize and mobilize our people and focus on both incremental changes and systemic changes on the local, state, and national level.
2. Prepare for 2018
Historically, Democrats, young people, and people of color don’t vote in large numbers during off-election years. As a result, Republicans, older people, and white folks succeed in electing officials that represent their needs. This happened after Barack Obama was handed a supermajority in the Senate and House of Representatives in 2008. However, Republicans regained control of the government in the 2010 midterm election, due to low voter turnout by Democrats.
Now it’s our turn. Republicans will control both branches of government for the next two years, but we can begin rallying our base to take Congress back in the midterm election on November 6, 2018. Remember, even though Trump won the Electoral College, Clinton received almost 2 million more popular votes than he did. That means there are way more of us than there are of them. Collectively, we have the power to take back our government.
3. Get Involved
“People ask me everyday, ‘What do we do now?’ What you do now is get involved heavily into the political process. When millions of people stand up and fight back, we will not be denied.” - Bernie Sanders
To ensure that we win control of Congress in 2018, we must start supporting Democratic candidates as soon as possible. We can do this by volunteering to canvass and donating to their campaigns.
We must also become civically engaged in our local communities all year round by making sure our voices and interests are represented at community board meetings and on school boards.
4. Protect Marginalized Communities
While we are all in fear of what a Trump presidency will look like, the reality is that Muslims, undocumented workers, African Americans, and LGBT folks will likely be hurt the most. That’s why we must translate our anger, despair, and frustration into a concerted effort to protect and support disenfranchised communities. We can do this by supporting the organizations that have been fighting for civil rights and social justice in our community, like the NAACP, the New York Urban League, and ACLU. If you can, join their local chapters and/or donate a few dollars to keep these groups going.
The best way to fight the system is to get involved; join an organization, help a progressive official get elected into office, and stay politically engaged. This is the time to fight, and that is how we can win.
Selena Hill is the Associate Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and the founder of Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio, where you can hear her and her team discuss Millennial politics and social issues every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.