My biggest pet peeve in the workplace are those who point fingers and assign blame when things go sideways. It’s counter-productive. It’s demoralizing. It never works.
As I drove home from work on Wednesday – stuck in yet another DC traffic jam – I became very angry with myself. Despite the election, I had a great week. The dog my girlfriend rescued in 2010 had her third successful surgery, this one to remove an ulcerated tumor from her abdomen. This dog was given four months to live in May 2013. She doesn’t give a shit because she’s tough as hell.
So as I arrived home from work on Wednesday and she bounded to me with an energy missing when she had her tumor, I got emotional. I need to be more like her. I need to be tough. I need to start attacking the world with an energy missing when America decided whether it needed surgery for a tumor. Spoiler alert: that tumor was elected President.
It’s time for action. It’s time for me to take action. For too long, I’ve done the bare minimum to help causes. Write blog posts. Share stories on social media. Donate money. It’s not enough.
I have decided that I need to make a significant difference. I don’t mean symbolic gesture like boycotting news media. I mean actions that will lead to a direct outcome.
#1: Stop Ignoring White Privilege
The most disgusting part of Wednesday was reading Facebook posts from people imploring the world to unite and come together after a tough election. These posts were from people who did not vote for the Tumor, but did not vote for Hillary. They also had one other characteristic in common – they were white.
It is the definition of white privilege to not worry about President Tumor, because you, personally, have little to worry about. You know, besides the crippling recession that seems to accompany any Republican in charge of any state or country. When did we stop caring about our fellow man?
It’s very easy to cut racists out of your life – the people in the deplorable basket are in there forever. But it’s not as easy to cut out those who simply do not get it. These are your Aunts, your Cousins, your former classmates or co-workers. They aren’t bad people, they just live in a bubble. They live in white neighborhoods, they work with white co-workers and they simply don’t get it.
And when pressed on not getting it, they fight back and complain about everything being seen through the prism of race. Why do they say race doesn’t matter? Because they’re white, so racism is not a problem for them.
This is going to be painful but it’s a step I have to take. I can no longer stand idly by while people I love are oblivious. They’ve never walked through an airport with a Muslim. They don’t walk down Mass Ave and see black teenagers accosted by police. They don’t know what it’s like to be told to “go back” to Mexico. It’s an education process. Speaking of which…
#2: Pick An Issue, Mine is Education
The scariest part of this election was how ill-informed the electorate was. They were easily manipulated by fake stories, which we later learned were mostly planted by Russian trolls and teens in Macedonia trying to make a quick buck. But it didn’t stop from people believing the absurdity of nonsense like Hillary purchasing 30,000 guillotines to behead Christians, a new spin on old nonsense.
Unfortunately, this is a fundamental problem in our country. If you look at state-by-state rankings of high school education, the bottom 11 states all voted for the Tumor. Of the bottom 15, only New Mexico was with her. Why do you think that is?
By living with a girlfriend who is a pre-school teacher – both in DC and Northern Virginia – you very quickly realize the serious issues facing our educational systems at every level. It’s only worse in fly-over country, where Republican governors and legislatures have slashed education budgets. We have a horrific situation where the adults are dumb getting dumber while the students are not getting smarter.
This needs to change. My action here will be two-fold. For one, I will stay in tune with key education initiatives across the country and fight for more education funding in any way I can. Secondly, I will work to illuminate the issues surrounding education, in hopes of providing the facts about why our children are falling behind the rest of the world.
#3: Volunteering to Fight Against the War on Women
The man elected President admitted, with audio, to committing sexual assault. In the weeks after, more than a dozen women came out to corroborate similar, sickening stories. Other than courteous statements that always included their wife or daughter, the vast majority of Republicans suddenly forget about their relatives and backed their candidate on Election Day.
I honestly have no idea how a woman woke up on Wednesday and felt that this country cared about them.
And it's only going to get worse, as conservatives remain obsessed with telling women how to deal with their genitalia. The problem in this country is that there are not enough men standing up and defending women – silence is complicit.
I will no longer be silent. Starting today, I will volunteer my time and donate my money to non-profit organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, that provide life-saving services for women. We don’t have a civilization without women, so maybe we should start protecting them.
Similarly, it’s time for the rape culture that has engulfed this nation to be dismantled and tossed into history’s trash heap. We should not need to invoke our mother to reject rape.
#4: Become a Community Organizer
In 2008, Barack Obama was derided – by Sarah Fuckin’ Palin of all people – for getting his start as a community organizer. But it was the foundation that fueled the Obama machine for so long and it was the missing piece in Hillary’s outreach that felt so forced.
What can we do? How can we do? How do we ensure that America’s Tumor is removed as quickly and as painlessly as possible?
I know I’m not alone in this. So beginning in January, after some reflection on the best course of action, I will begin hosting regular meetings of people that want to make a difference on key issues.
To start with, the poor turnout of voters will be an immediate issue. How does only half of our nation vote for our President? It’s a total crock that Election Day still falls on a Tuesday work day – how can we change that?
What Happens Now?
That’s the biggest question facing our country, specifically the majority who did not vote for our current leader. I guess you could say he’s #NotMyPresident. And it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever call him that.
There’s work that needs to be done to make sure the 2016 election is an aberration in America’s history and not an irrevocable stain on humanity. I don’t know what happens now.
I do know that I’ll be damned if this happens again without doing absolutely everything in my power to prevent it. I have lost faith in many Americans. I have not lost faith in America.
What will you do?