Thursday, January 19, 2017

Our Role As Citizens

As President Obama transitions to his role as citizen, and as President Trump transitions to his role as leader of the free world, I urge everyone to not lose hope.

We are, after all, the same country that showed up in record numbers to elect President Obama. Twice.

We are the same country that not only elected an African-American to the highest office in the country, but also gave him a majority in Congress when he took office. That congress, in turn, allowed us to pass Obamacare, Wall Street Reform, Student Loan Reform, and save our economy from another Great Depression.

Time and time again, we have seen the power of our voices. We have seen how much change we can enact when we make our voices heard and engage in our political process.

Yes, this past election sucked. And yes, we had 3 million more Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. But I believe a primary reason we lost the Presidency is because we did not get engaged and involved in the political process early enough.  
And in doing so, we also gave the President-Elect a majority in Congress. That congress, in turn, will confirm his radical and unqualified cabinet-members. That congress, in turn, will repeal Obamacare; deregulate our markets and revert back to the failed economic policies of the Bush Administration. That congress, in turn, will not fight for climate change. That congress, in turn, will weaken the progressive issues that President Obama has championed.

But it is with this challenge that – WE the people – must organize and engage ourselves. It is up to us to fight against the injustices and intolerance from our new President and his Administration.

WE the people must vote in elections – not just for our Presidents, but also for our council members, our mayors, our congress members, and our governors.

WE the people must volunteer for political campaigns and social causes.

WE the people must not normalize racism and bigotry and, instead, speak up and speak out.

WE the people must hold our elected representatives accountable, and call out members so they never forget who they are working for.

We have seen how successful this strategy can be. Just recently – when Republicans tried to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics – we saw people organize, make calls to their representatives, speak up and speak out. Within 24 hours, Republicans reversed their proposal.

It is always easy to sit idly by on the sidelines, and complain that our leaders are not doing enough. It is always easy to take the path of least resistance, hoping that justice will fall gently on your lap.

But justice, equality, and fairness never come easy. As President Obama said in his farewell address:

Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions…All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.