The general consensus seems to be that 2016 was not a good year. For me as an individual, it was pretty good: I finished my Master’s degree, I’m doing more teaching and tutoring, and my partner and I celebrated our first anniversary together on New Year’s Eve. For my rights as a neurodiverse lesbian millennial of Jewish heritage, however, I agree with the consensus view. 2016 marks the start of a new era: a time of backlash against progressive values; a time of hate, fear, and anger; a time of protests, outcries, and violence.
My emotions on November 9th are familiar to 66 million other people. Fear. Anger. Disbelief. Despair. I still haven’t quite processed the results. Hillary’s defeat broke my heart.
Even more devastating than Hillary’s loss, though, is who won. I will not speak his name, for he does not deserve that respect. You all know who I’m talking about when I refer to Mr Cheeto, right?
The victory of Mr Cheeto was a victory for those who believe that white, straight, cisgender, rich, Christian men are superior to everyone else. It was a victory for those who see people of color as animals; who see women as second-class citizens; who see LGBTQ+ people as abominations of nature; who see poor people as a disease; who see non-Christians (especially Muslims) as terrorists. It was a victory for bigotry, discrimination, fear, and hate.
As a lesbian, I do not know if my partner and I will be able to get married someday. As a Jew, I do not know if I am safe from the same persecution that my family faced just a few generations ago. As a woman, I do not know if I am safe when I leave my house. As a disabled person, I do not know what will happen to my right to reasonable accommodations. As a millennial, I do not know if my future involves a job, a healthy economy, or a livable environment.
As a survivor of domestic violence, I DO know that the next four years are going to be one long PTSD flashback – only this time, the abuser is the President.
So those are the consequences. We can expect 2017 to bring more fear and hate – as, indeed, we already have seen. We can look for the GOP to have a field day with majority control of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. We can prepare for the fight of our time: the fight for a future, not a return to the early 1800s.
We face a new era. An era in which the Constitution is no longer respected, our civil rights and personal liberties are under fire, and our environment marches towards the point at which our planet can no longer sustain human life. We cannot turn back and we cannot back down.
So we must educate ourselves, we must unite to work for a common cause, and we must be ready.
Arm yourself with critical thinking, fact-checking skills, and an understanding of lobbying and the policy process.
Coming January 21st, 2017: A New Era: The fight for the future.