Where were you when it happened? Were you huddled around the TV with family or friends, watching the voting results roll in? Were you refreshing Google over and over, waiting for the states to turn blue or red?
Or did you go to sleep early that night, avoiding the news and social media, only to find out the next day that Donald Trump had become the next president?
The 2016 presidential election has been a wake-up call for the entire nation. People wrote Trump off, firmly believing he couldn’t win because of his lack of political experience, his blatant racism and his misogyny.
Many Portlanders were left in shock as our liberal bubble abruptly burst, leaving us to think: What do we do now?
In some ways, we are fortunate to live in Oregon, a place that lives on the liberal edge. We were one of the first states to legalize marijuana. We embraced gay marriage long before the U.S. Supreme Court made its landmark ruling, legalizing such unions.
The majority of our congressional delegation falls into the category of Democrat. And Trump received just 17.6 percent of the vote in Multnomah County – our most populous county. The other major urban centers in the nation didn’t vote for Trump either. But a lot of the country did, including plenty of people in Oregon.
The reality is that, in Portland, we live in a liberal bubble. But if we learn anything from this election, it’s that we shouldn’t sit back and enjoy our place in the bubble. It’s been popped.
It’s time to expose ourselves to different perspectives. For too long, liberals have ignored the perspectives that exist outside of our own. People unfriend their conservative friends on Facebook and refuse to engage in conversation with their Republican-leaning peers when things don’t go according to plan.
It’s time to not only get out and expose ourselves to rural and conservative America, but to expose them to us.
Some say we shouldn’t compromise with racist, xenophobic and misogynistic beliefs. But at the same time, we can’t continue to ignore the people who elected our next president. Trying to understand an alternate point of view does not mean undermining your beliefs.
For those who are young, education is crucial. We must read books and articles, take classes on politics and government, speak to experts and attend lectures. Let’s usher in a new age of well-educated and informed politics.
If you feel strongly about a proposed law or bill, it’s vital that you make sure those in power know where you stand by writing letters to your elected officials and attending town halls or city council meetings.
Trump has done a thorough job of disparaging marginalized groups. This has rendered many advocacy groups and local organizations all the more important in supporting our vulnerable communities.
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Q Center, the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization and many others are going to need an influx of volunteers and supporters.
If people are in a position to do so, they should also seriously consider utilizing the power of the pocket – donating to advocacy groups that align with the issues you care about.
This also means being conscious of where you spend money. Every dollar you spend on companies who have voiced support for Trump or any of the 500 companies under The Trump Organization is a dollar toward the bigoted values that President-elect Trump has championed.
Ultimately, the most effective way to play your part is to get out and vote. If you’re 18 or will be in 2018, register to vote. Presidential elections are important, but other state and city elections will have the most impact.
Take this last election seriously. The rise of Trump parallels a recent drop in American beliefs about the importance democracy. It’s not just our nation; the world has seen a recent spike in authoritarianism.
Liberals are angry and maybe rightfully so when you look at the national popular vote that saw Hillary Clinton get over 2 million more votes than Trump. Many are calling for the removal of the Electoral College system. But the reality, is there have been more than 700 attempts to reform or eliminate that system. None have worked.
If you’re upset by the result of the election, get involved. Stand up for what you believe in. Hold people accountable for their actions. Don’t allow bigotry to be normalized. Acknowledge the privilege we each possess, and utilize it to uplift those who do not share the same privileges.
The battle against hatred and bigotry associated with Trump will not be a battle won by safety pins or Facebook posts. This is not the beginning of this battle, and in four years, it will not be over. We must be willing to take action against the harmful values that are currently prevailing. ◆