A New Hope: One Year After the 2016 Election

I remember election night about a year ago. At the beginning of the night I was stoked that we were going to make history by electing the first female president. I thought that Hillary Clinton had a great chance of winning. However, by the end of the night and into the next morning, I was distraught, anxious, and extremely afraid of the future of our country. Like most people I was thinking:

What the f**k just happened? 

One year later, there seems to have been a shift in our society and that terrible election night was the catalyst. We have a seen a tidal wave of resistance unlike any other in recent history. Just a mere 2 months after election day and on the first day of Donald Trump’s job, over 5.2 million people all around the world hit the streets at the Women’s March on Washington, which made history by becoming the largest protest in U.S. history. Grassroots organizations have been popping up left and right. From “Swing Left” to “Pantsuit Nation” to “Indivisible.” People are calling their members of congress, canvassing, knocking on doors, participating in town halls, and attending more protests--the movement is alive and well. It seems as if people have woken up and started paying attention.

They are asking questions. They wonder why a man who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country, build a wall around the Mexican border, and uses twitter as an un-presidential insult machine, was elected President of the United States. Some were outraged and decided they needed to do something to stop an administration that does nothing but spew racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia; the first ones to take action were women.

Women have been at the front lines of resistance.

This year alone, 86% of the calls to congress were made by women. We have a record number of women are running for office. 15,000 women have contacted “She Should Run” and 20,000 women have contacted "EMILY's list,” both of which are grassroots organizations with the goal of encouraging and helping women run for office. Many of those women cite Trump’s victory as their motivation for getting involved in politics.

Even some of the most disheartening events in our country have led to positive steps forward. In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA, people have made it more of a priority to condemn white supremacy and racism. Trump’s decision for the United States to withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, has encouraged individuals to fight against climate change, fracking, and pollution. The transgender military ban Trump announced over twitter enraged some people and made them feel compelled to let the transgender community know that they are not burdens to society.

The results of one year of resistance came in on Election Day 2017. The people elected:

  • Danica Roem, the first openly transgender state lawmaker in Virginia.

  • Sheila Oliver, first female African-American lieutenant governor of New Jersey.

  • Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, the first Latinas elected into the Virginia House of Delegates.

  • Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s first openly lesbian mayor, and the first female mayor since 1928.

  • Kathy Tran, a former Vietnamese refugee, became the first Asian-American woman to join Virginia’s House of Delegates.

  • Mazahir Salih, the first Sudanese-American to join the Iowa City Council.

  • Democrats who flipped 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. All were held by men and 11 were won by women.

This is what resistance looks like. This is what progress looks like. This is what democracy looks like. Look at what happens when angry people come together to show Trump and his administration that we “Stand with Refugees,” we believe that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” that “Black Lives Matter,” and that “Climate Change is Real.”

It doesn’t stop here because it can’t stop here. This is only the beginning. We have to keep showing up at the polls, marching, and paying attention. The 2018 mid-term election is only a year away, and there is still a lot of work to do.

Today, I’m looking back at the election and feeling a new kind of hope. Hope in resistance, in the movement, and in humanity.

We are reclaiming our country and rising up. This is proof that the power of the people is stronger than the people in power. We are unstoppable when we come together to fight for what we believe in: a United States that is welcoming, inclusive, kind, and diverse. That’s what we should all strive for, and keep striving for. Let’s keep on showing up, resisting, and making history.