Today is inauguration day for a President I did not vote for. Until 2016, I have been very fortuitous when it came to Presidential elections; both of my votes were for Barack Obama first in 2008 when I was 20 years old, and then in 2012 at 24. I knew I would vote blue my first time at the ballot box, and things were no different when I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
I might be called a sore loser because I have never before faced defeat of my preferred Presidential candidate. But I have faced defeat before. I have faced defeat in the many sports I played in my youth. I have faced defeat in my top choice college acceptances. I have faced defeat in the job market.
I have faced defeat before, but I have never accepted it.
When faced with defeat, I find a way to rework it.
When I lost a race or didn’t run as well as I wanted to, I turned up to practice the next day and trained even harder for my rematch. When I was rejected and wait-listed at my top choice colleges, I accepted my offer at the next best school and made the most of my experience there (and got three degrees out of the deal!). When I faced defeat in the job market, I took extra jobs, made ends meet, went to graduate school, faced more defeat, and am still working relentlessly toward a self-sustainable career.
I will not start accepting defeat now.
I will rework this defeat just as I have done in the past.
Reworking defeat does not make me a sore loser.
It makes me a force to be reckoned with.
In previous elections, reworking defeat would have meant becoming more politically involved. Making more phone calls to voters during campaign season. Donating time and money to causes I believed in. Frequent communication with my representatives. While this election calls for those same actions of reworking defeat, those actions are a slow burn toward progress.
But this campaign was different. The opposing candidate did not just hold the opposite views than me and my candidate like they had in the past, but was openly hateful, ignorant, seemingly power hungry, and so many things I have never seen and never expected from a Presidential nominee.
No, reworking defeat in this campaign calls for something more to counteract the hateful platform and outrageous rhetoric of a man and administration who seem more intent on putting specific peoples in their place and wielding power than working toward the collective people’s best interests.
So I will do something more. I cannot attend my preferred peaceful demonstration: the Women’s March on Washington. Not even the Chicago event. I am scheduled to work that day and, being a children’s librarian in a community heavily populated with immigrants, Muslims, and low-income families, I feel that my place that day is at my job, where I am only beginning to lay the groundwork for a more inclusive community and more perfect union.
I will not march tomorrow. But I will protest today.
This past Thanksgiving, I was asked what good protest was; what could stirring up all this trouble do? After all, the results were in and flooding the streets wouldn’t change them. Beside, don’t we all want the new President to succeed? Isn’t that what’s best for us all? And I agreed: I wanted nothing more than for the sitting President to be successful in keeping our country safe and whole, though our definition of success in that might differ. And the opposition peacefully gathering and raising their voices wouldn’t change anything concretely. It might not even change minds.
Protesting isn’t always meant to change something immediately, but it is always meant to send an immediate message.
On November 9, 2016, those protesting sent a message to the marginalized and disenfranchised who don’t live in a sea of blue that they are not alone in their dissent and fear. Protest tells the closeted gay teenager in a conservative household that they are not alone. It tells the sole Mexican or Muslim family living in a nice (read: white) community that they are not alone. It tells those who have lost lives due to gun violence, especially at the hands of police, that they are not alone.
It reminds us that we are not alone.
Protesting on November 9 sent a message to the masses who cast their vote that day. Protesting today does that with an added bonus: it sends a message straight to the top. It says that we are vigilant, we are watching, and we will hold the new administration accountable every step of the way.
I am not naive enough to think with this new administration comes a backlog of America’s problems. America’s problems are inherent and institutionalized and it would take much more than a new President to bring them back from the dead. But to have a sitting President who so brazenly embraces and even seeks to further ingrain these problems into the fabric of our democracy? That is something I will protest.
I will protest foreign interference in the election in whatever form they take or impact they make.
I will protest constant voter restriction and the ever-present hurdles of democracy our government continually puts into place and was even founded on.
I will protest restricting access to affordable healthcare and the repeal of laws that help more than they hurt without a sustainable substitute.
I will protest my worth being 21% less than a man’s and a woman of color’s worth being 40%-45% less.
I will protest social and legal disregard for my body when it comes to my choices concerning it and people taking advantage of it.
I will protest hateful rhetoric.
I will protest widespread social and economic inequality.
I will protest white supremacy and xenophobia and misogyny and ableism and homophobia and… there are so many ands.
I protest all of the new administration’s “ands.”
I protest because I believe in the good in people, and I believe in the good in this nation and its democracy. I protest because I am hopeful. I protest because I believe in U.S.
You can call me a liberal snowflake and say that my protesting and outrage is just a sore loser tantrum. I will remind you that the act of protest, organization, and dissent are inherently American. And I will point out that snowflakes are uniquely intricate and complex, and that many of them together, acting as one, can literally move mountains.
You can desire and mock my liberal tears, but I will remind you that my tears are not just of rage and frustration. They are tears of hope and they will do me far more good than they’ll do you.
Don’t believe me?
Just watch me rework.