Today I woke up in a new America, as President Obama prepared to leave the oval office for the last time. It seemed no coincidence that both my husband and I slept restlessly all night, waking up every hour on the hour, having indigestion, tossing and turning. It was the last night we would go to bed knowing that we had a President who would fight for the greater good of all the people. When we finally woke up after a fitful night, there was a steady, light pouring rain, as if God himself opened up the clouds to weep.
Our democracy is in distress.
Us bleeding heart liberals consoled ourselves with the phrase “love trumps hate.” But America’s ugly underbelly has been exposed via the normalization of misogyny, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, narcissism, and racism. Our president-elect, who I will now refer to as Circus Peanut Putin (because he looks like and has the vitality of an orange circus peanut, is a Putin-wannabe, and this whole thing is nothing short of a 3-ring circus), has lowered the level of public discourse to the point where we are now. And that is a place where it’s perfectly okay to talk about grabbing women by their genitals, classify Latinx people as “rapists and murderers,” refuse to denounce endorsements by the KKK, openly mock differently-abled people, and then gaslight Americans into believing you weren’t mocking his handicap, you were mocking his act of “groveling.”
I decided to give a glimpse into the life of my family, with their consent, to try to help normalize gender variant children in an effort to help others. I do this by writing publicly and speaking about LGBTQ+ issues, and leading a group that serves some of the needs of these awesome people, starting from childhood. We all can do something. We all need to use this time to plan, to engage, to spark dialogue. If you’re not an activist, now is the time to become one. If you are marching in protest today, I applaud you, but I also implore you to not let this be your stopping point. There is so much work to do and we need everyone on board. The only silver lining I can possibly take away from this election is that a whole new section of people who, in the past may not have cared, are now feeling the burning conviction to step outside their comfort zones and do something tangible. President Obama often spoke of the need for us to exercise our rights. This is such a time.
History has exposed the myriads of people who stood by and did nothing, or remained silent in the face of clear and present danger. We look back on them and wonder, “how could they?” Now we see up close and personal exactly how they could and can. These people refuse to talk about politics. They live in the past, only talking about comfortable memories and longing for some mythical former era that they are only seeing through rose colored glasses. They believe in the slogan “Let’s make America great again.” They believe it with their last dying breath, as if the progress of civil rights movements and the inclusion of more diversity has somehow stripped America of its power and beauty. They deny that privilege exists, especially among white people. They think that ‘reverse racism’ is a thing. They are ignorant of the fact that racism can only happen in a minority situation, and white people definitely still hold the majority population in this country. A black person may have prejudice towards a white person, but they cannot be called ‘racist,” when they are the minority.
On that note, the incoming presidency has a cabinet that is exclusively republican, all white (except for minority token Ben Carson), and for the first time since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, does not include a Latinx person. This does not reflect the melting pot that is America. This is more than troubling.
Of extreme concern to me is the threat to our freedom of the press. In true, tyrannical fashion, Circus Peanut Putin has threatened or harassed anyone who has spoken out against him, whether it was a credible journalist, or an academy award winning actor. There are even rumors that this presidency is planning to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the government that entity that partially funds both NPR and PBS. Read it and weep. The level of public discourse has been lowered so much that it’s beneath the foundation of the swamp.
Today I will not watch the inauguration. My TVs will be tuned to HGTV all day, maybe all weekend. I will instead reflect on the progress that was made over the past eight years, despite roadblocks at every turn. I won’t forget that President Obama never used fear tactics. I won’t forget that President Obama was a calm, steady, and poised presence that consistently rose above the noise and chaos swirling around him. I will always remember the times he reminded us that bravery and progress are the foundation of America, and that he would always fight for the rights of marginalized people. I will continue to be inspired in my own fight for the LGBTQ+ community by President Obama’sand the First Lady’s wise words, “When they go low, we go high.” I will always remember how the entire Obama family was nothing short of a master class on the subject of grace under fire.
Farewell, President Obama. Your absence has already gutted me, and you’ve only just now left the oval office. There will never be another like you. Thank you, sir, for all you’ve accomplished.