In a stunning and quantumly predictable yet unforeseen turn of events, I woke up facing a harsh reality before me: the people of the United States (my own “home and native land” as the Canadians would say and Republicans would repeatedly deny), divided by race, social class, and political party, had elected a basketball to the presidency.
This not to say that I hit the snooze button all Election Day yesterday. Like many people my age, I was glued to Facebook and Twitter with reactions to state breakdowns, Electoral College numbers, voter turnouts, demographics, and everything that both fairly and unfairly affects the political process in our nation. As I watched state after state filled in with Red, I stayed strong for both my family and my people.
However, after losing key battle states, I quickly began to lose my sense of direction. After channeling my energies and thoughts, I began to piece myself together enough to interact with others, and argued and debated the results. I simply talked about the signs that this could have happened. The telltale marks in the Clinton campaign that were pointing to her downfall, the signs in the manipulative and deceitful Trump campaign that pointed to its victory; all these things and more I talked about and debated with friends on a social media platform. In a way, I take comfort in that.
Democracy, at its very core and aligned with how our founding fathers intended it to be, is exactly that. Discussion, arguing peacefully and calmly with an open mind, discourse, and a constant moving forward. I take pride in knowing I have participated and continue to participate in a tradition of logical thinking, voting, and democratic debate that is the true pinnacle of our over 200 years as a nation. Though, it may surprise our founding fathers that it’s a punk Latino kid who’s doing the thinking and voting.
And in this, I find solace. It would be easy for me as LGBT+ identifying, a person of color, and a 20-something year old trying to play the politics game to give up; as a minority in so many senses of the word, it would be easy to cry and play victim. It would be easy for me to collapse on the floor, claiming to be a martyr of modern politics. Many people my age ARE doing so, with snide “it should have been Bernie” posts on Facebook. However, the strongest guiding light I have is that I do not have the luxury or the privilege to do so. In these discussions of “What now?” and the absolute terror my brethren and sistren in the Latino and LGBT+ communities, we get up to fight again.
Surrounding me in Orange County is a very real, hateful rhetoric that is very sobering. I am no stranger to this, as I’ve been pressure cooked in it since birth. As a native of Anaheim and an alumnus from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, being surrounded by a white, Republican majority and all its caveats is something I’m no stranger to.
In a world where a voting majority felt its rights were taken away by a “black man in the White House,” we are now facing a racist “white man in the White House.” For us, our very way of life is within firing range of not only a bigoted President, but a very powerful Republican-controlled House, Senate, and a seat still open on the Supreme Court. The consequences of losing this election are very real, and may take decades to repair.
However, this means we must continue to fight tooth and nail for the rights and liberties we deserve. Continuing under the assumption, after securing PoC rights in the 60’s, a woman’s right to choose in the 70’s, or jumping forward to the strides in LGBT rights we have now, that our struggles were over was almost naive and foolish. We’ve been fighting every day of our lives, making a place for ourselves and succeeding.
We must continue to fight, continue to succeed, and continue to prevail. Our future wills it, we have no other choice. We can’t afford the luxury nor have we the privilege to treat this election cycle as a joke. We can’t let our will be drowned out in a sea of ironic memes about Bernie Sanders, Trump caricatures, and half-hearted tweets lamenting our situation. We must take continue action, continue in the political process, and continue our struggles.
In a sea whose tsunami-like waves threaten to swallow us whole in a sea of white-foam and pitch-black waters, we must continue. We must go on; we have no other choice.