A Year Of Resistance: How An Indecent President Sparked American Greatness
Last year was tough. I know it, you know it. Even my six-year-old daughter knows it. Last year, I shared a birthday with election day and when she found out my birthday was rolling around again this week, she said:
“Will it be like last year, mama? Except without all the crying?”
Like millions of Americans, I went to bed that night devastated and frightened. I wasn’t sure what to say to my daughter, whose whole classroom had voted for Hillary with these adorable portrait ballots.
I’d told her a woman had a chance to finally be President. I felt as if we stood on the threshold of a pivotal point in history. That for the first time as feminists we could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
And then America shut the door in our face. And it hurt like hell.
This wasn’t just a symbolic election — it was a deeply personal one. When I took my 11-year-old son to the bus stop the next day, I’d only slept a few tortured hours and my eyes were still red and swollen. He looked out the window of the car at his friend’s gathering, huddled in the morning chill, and turned to me.
“What about Sophia? Will Donald Trump make her leave?”
I looked at his friend standing on the curb, a girl from Iran with thick glasses, carrying a musical instrument and a backpack heavy with books. My throat thickened with tears.
“I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.”
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Fear Turns Into Hope
That night and the following days were dark ones, as our country grieved for a democracy that we came to understand had never really existed. We stared down the bleak prospect of a Trump presidency, clinging to straws like recount votes and election improprieties. Anything to stave off the fear and hold out hope.
In those desperate months before Trump took office, we prepared for what it might mean to worry about the safety of loved ones as the hateful rhetoric swelled and burst into the public eye. After the election, I took cookies to my Middle Eastern neighbor, driving past all the Trump signs on our block cringing. She wondered if she’d ever be able to see her Mother again. I held onto her and sobbed my apologies. I was ashamed of what our country had become and frightened for her. And for all of us.
And then something magical happened. Out of the pain of the prospect of a Trump Presidency, the Resistance was born.
At first, we were raw and vulnerable as newborns, hiding in groups like Pantsuit Nation, where the comfort of support allowed us to lick our wounds in safety. Within days we began to emerge, taking to the streets. Galvanized by anger and fear, many Americans who were new to the stirrings of patriotism and politics began to organize. The Indivisible Guide went viral, spawning hundreds of groups across the nation who formed action committees and Facebook groups, cultivating a base of first-time activists out of suburban housewives and retirees.
The seeds of revolution had been sown and the ranks of the Resistance grew. Days that once seemed difficult to face were suddenly filled with purpose.
Remember this guy? Yeah, I miss him too. But he said something as he stepped out of the White House and into public life that has stayed with me all these months.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.
Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.
If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.
Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America and in Americans will be confirmed. Mine sure has been…
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.
After the election I was afraid that our democracy was too anemic to withstand the onslaught of an authoritarian president. I worried my fellow citizens were ambivalent, too distracted by the comforts of home and a big screen TV to notice that our country was slowly slipping from our collective fingers.
But America’s Dad was right. He believed in us. And since Trump’s election we’ve transformed this country into a politically active one and brought this farce of a Presidency to its knees.
We did that.
Here are some other pretty incredible things we did this year.
1The National Park Service kicked it off by taking to Twitter to lead the charge against junk science and questions about the size of Trump’s ego. Spoiler alert: It’s YUGE!
This also taught the Resistance that social media could be a powerful tool. We learned to think in 140 characters and formed massive networks of followers to amplify calls to action.
2 Just a week into the Trump Presidency, Greenpeace reminded us what peaceful protest is all about. A 62 year old woman lead the charge along with a band of professional activists who hoisted a giant Resist flag on a crane behind the White House. It remained there for several hours.
This trend of political statements on government and public buildings has continued with folks like Robin Bell, who have projected various resistance messages on important locations throughout DC.
3 We crashed the phone lines to Congress so many times we stopped counting. We even learned how to fax when some reps like Paul Ryan disconnected their voice mail. The Resistance keeps our congressional representatives on a very tight leash now, thank you very much.
I worked for Congress for 6 years, and here’s what I learned about how they listen to constituents.
All those years running the phone tree for the school and the church comes in handy. PTA moms are organized, well connected, and we’re mad as hell. Women made up 86% of the phone calls placed to Congress in March of 2017.
4 And then there were the town halls. They were glorious bits of democracy in action. Our GOP reps got so scared, they stopped holding public gatherings and hid from constituents.
We’ve also realized gerrymandering is a thing and the blue dots are banding together, pumping resources into local campaigns to take back state legislatures and redraw district maps.
5 Trump’s travel ban provoked an unprecedented response from the Resistance, flooding airports around the nation with protesters. Lawyers worked to help immigrants stranded in terminals around the country and corporations got into the action, suing the administration over the unconstitutionality of Trump’s executive order.
THIS just in from My beloved, fierce, tireless Sister: “G, Just got back from dropping off… https://t.co/U3Xx80pulG
Cities like New York and Boston, who have experienced unspeakable acts of terrorism, came to the rescue of their neighbors. One immigrant, one hour at a time, we worked to make America kind again.
6 The GOP came for our healthcare and the Resistance said not today. Not ever. We lobbied relentlessly to save the Affordable Care Act, thwarting efforts at repeal at every turn. When the Trump administration refused to promote the signup for Obamacare, we did the heavy lifting ourselves, blasting it on every social media platform for weeks and achieving the program’s highest first day enrollment numbers ever.
Record numbers signed up for Obamacare in few first days of open enrollment,despite WH cuts to outreach & promotion https://t.co/JUWGMnh2pR
We watched ladies of the Senate like Susan Collins as they became conscientious objectors, saving healthcare and putting people before party. Susan Collins now enjoys one of the highest approval ratings in Congress.
7 And last but not least, there was this magnificent thing where we took to the streets. There were so many women the Women’s March couldn’t actually march in DC because the streets were too crowded. Over 5 million women participated in 408 protests worldwide. It became the single largest protest in American history. We followed that up with the March for Science, the LGBT march on Washington, and scores of others. We keep our protest signs by the back door now, ready to grab at a moment’s notice. There are even costumes, guys. Costumes.
And this where I start getting all flummoxed. Because look at us… you’re all so god damn adorable and passionate and gosh darn it, I like you. In the beginning, I thought 2017 — WORST YEAR EVER. But then I met all of you. And now I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t ever wish this malignancy of a Presidency on anyone. But in some weird way, I’m actually grateful. Because out of all this chaos and distress, we got the Resistance. And we became a better country and a stronger democracy because of it.
I’m writing this final conclusion in the glow of my computer screen as the Twitterverse erupts in joy. Judging by the numbers, the Resistance showed up in a big way. Record turnouts and sweeps for Democrats, flipping legislatures in some cases and securing governorships across the country.
BREAKING: Ralph Northam has been elected the next Governor of Virginia. Optimism has defeated Trumpism @realDonaldTrump-your tactics of lying, fear-mongering, and race-baiting are being rejected What a great first #280characters #ElectionDay https://t.co/7YM8W5LaHR
BREAKING: Democrats will sweep in Virginia, claiming victories in the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general races, CNN projects #CNNElection https://t.co/BARA8oQvDR
The first openly transgender state lawmaker is elected in Virginia https://t.co/Jt2s7xINgg
Lost in a bit of this– @FairfaxJustin, the now LG-Elect, becomes the first African American statewide elected leader in Virginia since Doug Wilder was elected governor in 1989. #VaGov
Maine voters approved an expansion of Medicaid in direct defiance of Gov. Paul LePage https://t.co/q747dQuzzh
Hoboken, New Jersey just elected the first turbaned Sikh mayor in American history. Well done, Ravi Singh Bhalla! And well done, America!
Democrats make history again as Sheila Oliver is elected the next Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey to serve alongside her running mate Phil Murphy. https://t.co/N3orcU0YKN
The face of change in #Virginia: These four women beat four white, male Republicans, including three incumbents, in their House of Delegates races.
Run everywhere! Warren County is Ohio’s most Republican County. Not one D elected official before today. Now there are 5! @WarrenCoDemsOH
BREAKING: @electmanka has won the special election for LD45 in the WA Senate, flipping the seat – *and the entire chamber* – from red to blue. This is the 27th state legislative flip for Democrats in 2017. Congratulations, Manka! https://t.co/X3YbPNctq4
Repudiation of Trumpian politics: The two Asian American candidates targeted in this mailer both won election tonight to the Edison, NJ school board 1/2
Democrat Vi Lyles is projected to win the race for Charlotte, NC mayor. She will become the first African-American woman to lead the city. https://t.co/qgqYl32uor
I’m sure there will be more wins to celebrate but tonight, I’ll rest easy. And I have you to thank for that. Because in the morning when we wake, although Trump will still be President, we’ll also be one step closer to truly making America great again. You did this, citizen. You.
“I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.” — Barack Obama
Soldier on, resisters.