I am a 33 year old working mother living in Culver City with my husband, toddler son, and sometimes our shih tzu (my parents take him a lot to help us out). Since the election, I’ve vacillated between spasms of rage (in which I make frantic donations to various progressive organizations), sadness (in which I cry at the mere sight of President Obama and his beautiful family), and apathy (in which I assure myself that my privilege will shield me from the rough four years to come). But after a few discussions with my family and friends, I have decided (and by this letter – I’m making it a firm decision) that I will treat November 8, 2016 as the day for which I will be forever thankful.
Prior to November 8, 2016, like many busy young millennials, I thought progress was something that chugged along like a train. How could I think differently? The past eight years have given my LGBT friends the opportunity to marry the loves of their lives, kids that work hard but are stilted by a broken immigration system the opportunity to DREAM a little harder, as well as greater investment and commitment to clean energy that will ensure that my son can breathe deep for the rest of his life. I was fully aware of the world’s problems, but kept thinking to myself, “This too shall pass. All shall be addressed in due time.”
I ignored all the signs. I threw my support in the Democratic primaries behind Senator Bernie Sanders, but was happy to switch my support to Secretary Hillary Clinton, despite my problems with many of her policies. I read think pieces by Glenn Greenwald, and “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance, but was positive that the Rust Belt would pull through as usual. Because seriously? Trump is vile. He’s a misogynist pig. People can’t seriously vote for this guy. And given this guy’s record – the down ticket had to follow suit.
Well, even weeks later, I’m still baffled at the results. But this shouldn’t have surprised anyone. For the past forty years, Republicans have learned to play the game better, and they had a candidate who invigorated people at the most base level (in ways I still don’t quite understand). I could go into the strategies Republicans have applied to get to where they are, but that’s not helpful. Rather, I’m writing to talk about what I’m doing now, and what I encourage my fellow millennials to do as well.
Since the election, I attended Congressmember Bass’ Congressional Conversation. When I heard other millennials speak, it was apparent that they were scared, bordering on helpless. Many asked what could possibly be done, seeing no active steps available to take in the meantime.
My answer is simple. Think local. Think minutiae. Hold everyone accountable, regardless of whether that person is from your “party” or not. Conservatives have employed a plan on the micro level that has decisively defeated ours, and I refuse to take their success lying down. Complaining on Facebook won’t help, and it certainly won’t protect my son from an administration that refuses to recognize the dangerous effects of climate change. So, here’s my plan. I figure getting my plan published could do two things: (1) bind me to taking the steps below; and (2) encourage others in my community to do the same. Here’s my plan/my promise/my suggested way forward:
Step No. 1: I will vote in every election, including my local Democratic delegate election! I will help my friend, Elina Antoniou (District No. 54), become a progressive voice in California. [Tips for others: Not sure which district you live in? Check out: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ Make sure to thereafter look up who’s running to be your local delegate, and read up on them.]
Step No. 2: I will get involved in local politics! Next year, I will attend my local Democratic party chapter meetings, which take place on the second Wednesday of every month at 7pm at 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City. I will also attend at least one neighborhood association meeting, and potentially Culver City Council meetings (schedule here: https://culver-city.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx).
Step No. 3: I will keep up with my local, state, and Congressional representatives, and how they vote. [Tips for others: This is surprisingly not as difficult to check into as one would think. For example, Congressmember Bass’ voting records are here: https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/28963/karen-bass#.WFsjibGZOrc Congressmember Bass is accessible by Twitter, email, and her website as well. Using the FindYourRep tool above, I was able to find my State Assemblymember and State Senator, and am now following them on social media. VoteSmart keeps up with our local politicians as well, and I’ve tagged their pages to check on them every few weeks.]
Step No. 4: I will make sure sure that my monthly donations to organizations like ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and NRDC are always up to date.
Step No. 5: I will pay for real news! NPR and ProPublica come to mind.
Step No. 6: If someone with a different political view engages with me, I will have a civilized discussion with that person, being careful to rely on vetted facts/citations rather than memes or insults. If there is an impasse, I will look for middle ground. This is the toughest one. I remember encountering some fairly racist arguments online when trying to “reason” with a Trump voter. At that point, for my mental health, I will disengage.
I’m sure execution of my plan will be easier said than done. But for the sake of my country, and especially my son, this is my resolution, not just for the New Year, but every year following.