The negative repercussions from the election of Donald Trump have been reverberating around the world for more than six months. The Trump administration has turned Washington, D.C., into the reality star’s personal circus, and drastically altered the international perception of the United States as the leader of the free world.
But there has to be a silver lining somewhere, right? Maybe we’re grasping at straws for a glimmer of hope, but we are taking some heart in the blossoming political engagement in this country, particularly among young folks.
For instance, last month’s primary election in Philadelphia drove a record number of locals ages 18-34 to the polls. The City Commissioners’ Office announced this week a 279-percent increase in votes among that age group from the 2013 race, the largest jump among any age demographic. Granted, only about 10 percent of registered 18-34-year-olds voted last month, but the uptick is at least promising.
We’ve seen masses of marches and protests in the past few months, attracting everyone from millennials to seniors. And many demonstrators aren’t single-issue protesters: LGBT folks are marching at climate-change events, and racial-equality advocates are joining the call for a woman’s right to choose. Awareness of intersectionality needs to continue to flourish, with a particular need for allies to support efforts like Black Lives Matter; for many, the threat to the rights under this administration may be a new development but, for others, discrimination is nothing new. Unity among all marginalized communities is the best line of defense our country has.
Education is also a powerful tool, and many Americans seem to be taking that idea seriously. A few years ago, a Congressional hearing of the former director of the FBI would be a blip on the radar of most Americans, whose awareness of D.C. happenings was likely lost amid the maelstrom of daily life. But now, people more readily appreciate that what happens in our nation’s capital affects us all. The testimony of former FBI director James Comey, which started after PGN went to press on this issue, was slated to be carried live by all major networks, with many non-politicos anticipating the broadcast like the Super Bowl. At least one bar in the Gayborhood was even opening early Thursday so patrons could catch the hearing.
The laundry list of damage Trump has inflicted is seemingly never-ending. But the singular positive so far is that his election seems to have awoken Americans to the need for political engagement, education and action. Let’s keep this going.