We Will Be the Change

By Meghan Bodette (Georgetown University Undergraduate)

It is like the instant of silence when you pick up a call from a distant relative after a member of the family has been too sick for too long, or when the car ahead of you on the highway swerves or stops or lurches, too suddenly for you to stop. You feel the impact before it hits, and all you can do is watch.

I knew that things had started to go wrong, too wrong, when I started getting texts. 

I have loved politics for years, working and volunteering on all levels of campaigns, reading the news, analyzing and discussing and sharing ideas I believed in. I refreshed FiveThirtyEight as often as we all did, in that week leading up to the day that would change everything. I had knocked hundreds of doors and called hundreds of voters in the months before election day. I believed Hillary could win. I knew she had to. 

The messages, from close friends and family and high school acquaintances, were all asking me if she would. 

Mathematically, when they started, there was a chance. Intangibly, on a level of politics ruled by ideology and fear and and a need for recognition we thought we left at the so-called end of history, the fact that people wanted a friend who they thought “understood” to contradict CNN made me sure that she wouldn’t. 

We all remember the rest of the night: the sadness, the pain, the shock. The cacophony of social media posts, searching for examples and parallels and last-shot ways out. The surreal incongruity of the Trump supporters, shouting and laughing and cheering next to people whose worlds had been broken. The anger. The fear. I didn’t sleep that night. I don’t know anyone who did. 

That night, we watched the twenty-first century shift and bend and break. We saw history— not the bright symbolic kind that President Obama’s election was or Hillary Clinton’s would have been, but the dark and tangled and uncertain kind that starts more than it finishes. 

The world will never be the same. The only question now is what we can do to resist. 

If you’re white, like I am, this is on all of us. We need to confront the people in our families and communities— which overwhelmingly voted for Trump— and call them out. We need to confront the fact that racism and xenophobia are still powerful forces in this country, and that anything less than resistance and opposition is complicity. We need to do what we can to protect people of color who will be threatened by Trump’s policies, and affirm that we stand with them. 

If you are Hispanic, Black, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, an immigrant, a person with disabilities, a woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a survivor of sexual assault, anyone who has been insulted by this campaign and whose rights and livelihood might be at stake under the policies of this next administration, take care of yourself in any way that you might need to. This is a list of things you might want to do before January. Know who and what is there for you, and take advantage of what you can. 

If you have protested, or want to protest, do not let anyone tell you not to. Do not let anyone pretend that the First Amendment is not yours, that you are overreacting, that you are not making a difference. You are the right side of history. You are the moral direction so many others lack. The people who call for “order” or “respect” forget how much positive change in this nation was caused by the disorderly and disrespectful, in service of a greater freedom and justice. Stay safe, and stay in solidarity. 

If you are angry and want to do something with it, run for office. Donate money, or give your time, to an organization that protects immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, health care, the environment, education. Stand up for people more vulnerable than you every day, whenever you can, even if you feel out of place or scared. We must all look out for each other, in the ways that we can, in accordance with the resources and advantages we have. 

Trump and his America are dangerous. They represent a future cut short by a bigoted, intellectually empty movement that did not even earn the popular vote. Your fear and anger are real, and well-reasoned.

But like societies everywhere, we can and will resist and outlast. We will earn our degrees, we will go to work, we will take care of our families and friends. We will take to the streets and call our congressional and state legislative offices and run for those offices ourselves. We will take risks for those close to us and those we do not know, for the sake of our common humanity. We, the millions who are better than this, and the ideas of justice and fairness and freedom that we hold together, will grieve and fight and love and organize and progress. We will not abandon the cause. We will not forget our future. We will be the change.