I’ve participated in American democracy primarily by voting, at least up until now. I voted when I turned 18 and still show up for every election in the many, many years since. Like many of us, the election of Donald Trump has suddenly turned me into an honest-to-God activist. I’m calling my representatives in congress, writing letters to the paper and will be meeting a member of my Congresswoman’s staff this Friday. My Congresswoman will still be in DC. Otherwise I’d be meeting with her in person. I’ve been watching videos of town meetings in other parts of the country, where hundreds or thousands of people have been turning up to protest and let their elected reps know they’re on notice.
Republicans, alas, control both houses of Congress so there have been setbacks. We have a Secretary of Education who knows nothing about public schools or college education. We have a Secretary of State (Jeff Sessions) who was condemned by Coretta Scott King back in the 1980s for his support of racism and segregation. My Senator, Elizabeth Warren, was shut down by Republicans before she could conclude her testimony against Sessions. As a result, #she persisted is now a viral meme on the internet.
The Supreme Court nomination process worries me. These are lifetime appointments and we have a split court. It’s been rightward-tilting up until the death of one of the judges and the Republicans held up Obama’s nominee for an entire year. Right now we have four liberals and four conservatives. Another conservative could set progress back for generations. Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to pass, which means some Democrats will have to vote for him. At the very least, there’s a great deal of pressure on them to delay or defer that vote. A lot of people are saying that the seat was stolen by the Republicans’ refusal to consider Obama’s candidate for so long. Maybe we’ll just have to wait, at least until 2018 when we might be able to get the Senate back, this time with forward-thinking, progressive Democratic candidates.
It’s been an amazing time. Massive demonstrations and mass actions everywhere. It feels different, like we’re on the verge of a revolution. All the energy that went into the Occupy, Black Lives Matter and other movements feel like they’ve come together into one, huge, uproar.
And maybe the women will lead. The Womens March, Elizabeth Warren and the rest may be at the head of the line this time, leading us to change.