Just about a year ago, this editorial carried the headline “What the fuck?” That sobering statement still pretty much sums up our feelings.
On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected our nation’s 45th president. It was a moment that was unanticipated by many on the left — a fact that might speak, in part, to why Trump was victorious.
While Trump himself ran a morally blighted campaign — rife with racism, sexism and homophobia — the shock and disgust reverberating throughout the left on Nov. 9 of last year likely wasn’t stemming from the then-president-elect’s positions, but rather from the stark realization that so many Americans endorsed such viewpoints. A man who bragged about getting away with grabbing woman’s genitals just became the leader of the free world. What did that say about the character of our country?
That’s a question that has continued to haunt the country throughout the last nine months. The outrageous “leadership” that has come from the Oval Office in the past 12 months have only fueled the unrest. LGBT rights have been rolled back at just about every turn — from trans students to seniors, the most marginalized of the LGBT community have become even more at risk under the Trump presidency. Appointee after appointee has brought with him or her a record robust with anti-LGBT positions. Trump’s administration has attempted to restrict women’s rights, inflamed racial tensions, discarded disability rights, neglected HIV/AIDS funding and prioritized the gun lobby over common-sense gun control, despite the nation’s worst mass shootings — not to mention, brought us to the brink of nuclear war. All in all, the past year has pretty much been as bad, if not worse, than most on the left imagined it would be.
However, many Americans have taken heart in a wave of resistance. At a number of turns, Trump’s outlandish policies have been halted by the courts, a nod to the actual power of checks and balances. Protests at the beginning of the year paved the way for get-out-the-vote efforts, educational seminars and a record number of first-time progressive candidates; just this week, Democrats saw unprecedented victories, including many for LGBT and minority candidates. Pop culture and politics have fused like never before; on one hand, some may have felt the weight of “Trump fatigue,” while on the other the infiltration of politics into new American circles has emboldened and energized a new generation around the machinations of government.
A lot has changed, and a lot hasn’t. One year later, ignorance still is rampant in this country; all of the -isms that helped elect the most unqualified president we’ve likely ever had still abound. But people are talking about them, and taking a stand against them. Americans, perhaps more so than ever before, are having deep, and desperately needed, conversations about what freedom and equality — the tenets so feverishly embraced by all sides on the political spectrum — truly mean.
Talk isn’t going to right the wrongs symbolized by Trump’s election, but, one year later, it has succeeded in producing some action. No matter how small, each step towards civility is a building block for a future that all Americans could be proud to be a part of.