When I stirred from sleep on election night to bug my husband to come to bed at around 10:30 and he told me things weren’t looking good, I lay back in bed trying to get to sleep but instead scrolled through my phone and broke out in ugly, heaving sobs. I tossed and turned all night.
I cried the next morning on the drive to my once-a-week babysitting job. I had ice cream and beer for dinner that night. I have wallowed.
I left the radio and TV off and downloaded an eBook to keep me distracted from social media and the Internet at large. I just couldn’t deal with it. It’s still unfathomable to me that we have let this happen. As a hateful man rose up in the ranks over the past year, it seems like we all laughed at his buffoonery, comfortable in the knowledge that people must see him for the inept, cruel fraud that he is.
But then there were the ever-reliable polls. The echo chamber of affirmation on social media. The persistent belief that we are better than this.
I voted early. I felt pretty confident.
But I guess our inability to conceive of anything but the sheer impossibility of a Trump presidency made us complacent. And then it became reality, and I felt a loss so palpable and deep and bruising, that I couldn’t look at it straight for a few days.
I have used up my allotted time for despairing, though. Self-pity is unattractive, and more importantly, useless.
“Because if you’re worrying about yourself…then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.” – B.O.
I’ve never been particularly politically active beyond voting (and retweeting, I guess). I find a lot of politics distasteful–this zillions of dollars on campaign ads, the mudslinging, the gridlock. But this is far more distasteful, so it’s time (or arguably, past time) for me to step up and stand up for what I believe in.
I know this is a blog about motherhood, but being a parent is inherently political, because we all have a hope for the world we want our children to grow up in. That world for me is one where women have agency over their bodies and there choices, where sexual assault is not dismissed as locker room talk, where we fight back against the very real, very imminent threats of climate change, and where we embrace our differences and work to ensure equal rights for everyone, rather than seeing everyone who is not like us as suspect.
And as much as I mean that last one as it relates to our treatment of people of color, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, it also cuts to the very root of our current problem. This country is so divided that the two sides see each other not as opposing viewpoints but mortal enemies, and that is a very difficult position from which to change people’s hearts and minds.
I live in a rural county in Ohio, meaning Trump country.
I’ve been side-eyeing everyone I see at the grocery store, wondering if they’re one of those delusional assholes who thinks that an incoherent scrotum with a reality show is going to deport all their work competition, turn all the factories back on full blast and help us all get out of paying taxes for two decades. As misguided and deeply sickening as it is to me that people voted this way, I have to remember that this candidate appealed to people’s fears. And as much as I reject his horrifying and vague approaches to alleviating those fears, I have to acknowledge they come from a reality that I need to work harder to relate to.
Dismissing someone’s fears that they won’t ever find work is just as disrespectful and disconnecting as someone dismissing my fears that women will have an even harder time accessing safe, legal abortions or that climate change will lead to the literal apocalypse.
That doesn’t mean I have to capitulate to xenophobia, or racism, or misogyny. But it is my sincere hope that even as my fellow liberals take this loss as a time to rise up, recalibrate and fight back, we can all work toward a more civil discourse. We have to stop villainizing our opponents, or we’ll continue to elect villains.
Donald Trump won because the common ground in our country is so minuscule that we’ve left no room for civil, rational discourse. The two sides are screaming at each other from opposite ends of a vast chasm of political apathy.
So: Coming to my point, or at least my conclusion. I’ve been lazy on the good citizenship front. And all the stuff that keeps me too busy to clean my shower or organize my photos or start my novel could be my continued excuse for my own political apathy. But I can’t let it. There’s too much at stake.
Believing in something is not enough.
I need your help, friends and readers and Internet. I want to take one political action every week until the midterm elections in 2018. That’s about 725 days, according to a quick Google, so I need about 103 items on my to-do list. I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t have a ton of time. But I want to assemble a list that makes it routine and easy to exercise my rights as a citizen. (Use ’em or lose ’em, amiright?) Online activism is easy, but it also is less effective (and often leads to impotent screaming matches–see: election 2016), so I want to assemble a broad range of activities, from donating to causes, to attending meetings, to volunteering, etc.
Because I’m new to this, and overwhelmed, and feel so disconnected right now, I want to crowdsource my list from you. I’ll publish the full list here so if anyone wants to join with me, you can. (You don’t have to be a mom. You don’t have to finish the whole list. You don’t even have to agree with everything on the list. But if you’re disappointed in how things turned out and want to get more involved, and support the idea of civility and change, you are welcome here.)
I’m counting this post as Week One. To help me out, post on my Facebook page, tweet at me @arkayokay (let’s use the hashtag #progressivemomsproject), or leave a comment below. I’d like this list to stretch from hyper-local to national, so suggestions can range from attending local township trustee meetings (do I even have one of those? Probably?) to donating to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
Do it for the children.
Let’s get to work.