Op-Ed: Time to Act

by Sophie Clark

Spread across the headlines this morning we were faced with a single, unavoidable but equally unanswerable question: What will Trump do now?

Well, that ship has sailed and we have two months and eleven days to guess the course it will take. The more pressing question is: What will we do?

If we define our democracy by the right to vote, then our part is done. We can only sit back and watch the spectacle unfold. But that definition washes away the reality of hundreds of years of US history, built on the backs of ordinary people fighting to shape the country they wanted to live in.

That is the fight that got us the right to vote, integrated schools, and the weekend. More recently I and countless others gained the chance to build a family that is equal in the eyes of the law to any other in this country.

That was not granted to us by an elected representative, it was hard won by millions of determined people who would not accept a system that placed no value on our experience of love. Whether or not you agree with me on this issue, it demonstrates the power we have when we come together to directly shape our future.

What do you want to change? Need to change? When you walk out of the front door in the morning, do you believe the law will keep you safe? Does the school your children go to prepare them to build the lives they dream of? What does the world you imagine for them look like? Ask yourself these questions as move through your day today. Write your answers down. Share them. Challenge yourself to be specific. Violence may seem an insurmountable problem, but it can be addressed if we look at it one piece at a time.

When parents identified a history of violent crimes in front of an elementary school in Baltimore, they came together and pushed local government to invest in street lights. Their children can now walk home from school after dark without fear.

In some ways this was a small victory, but when that decrease in violence means even one mother seeing her child in a graduation gown instead of a casket then it’s value is beyond measure.

This election has rightly been called one of the most divisive in living memory. We have been assaulted with unprecedentedly open attacks on our value in this society, whether we are simplified to “criminal” immigrants, “deplorable” rednecks, or “fat pigs” whose only asset is our “sex appeal”.

To move forward, we need to come together. This election has surfaced a burning desire for change in this country, a degree of change that is not truly within the power of the president. The ability to create that vision lies with us, and can only be accomplished piece by piece. Regardless of skin color, reproductive anatomy, sexual identity, immigration status, political affiliation, or the thickness of our pocketbooks, our dreams share more in common than they differ.

Friday is Veterans Day. It will be a time to honor the more than a million people who have died in service to this country as well as a reminder to recognize what they died for. This nation is rooted in the ideal of we the people’s right to shape the future of our own country. That right has not always been upheld, with plenty of examples of violence and suppression marring the history of civil rights, but it has always been fought for. Every time we write off the way things are as the only way they can be, we write off the value of the sacrifices these service members made as well as the those of everyone who has fought within our borders to build their vision of a United States. This Friday, support our troops by coming together, finding the dreams you share with others, and committing to fight on the home front to make those dreams a reality.

What will you do?

Sophie Clark is a University of Washington medical student and a community organizer

3 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Time to Act”

  1. Why wasn’t it time to act at any point in the last 8 years? Why didn’t you people feel compelled to act when Obama took trillions of dollars of OUR money and gave it to banks? Why didn’t you feel compelled to act when Obama launched any one of his seven wars against other countries? Why didn’t you feel compelled to act when Obama allowed British Petroleum to spew oil into the Gulf for three months? Why didn’t you feel compelled to act when Obama gave a bailout to the health insurance corporation complex called Obamacare? Why didn’t you feel compelled to act when Obama went to the funerals of murdered cops, but told black people for protested for their lives they were “thugs”? Why didn’t you feel compelled to act when Obama extended Bush’s tax cuts for billionaires? Why didn’t you feel compelled to act when Obama deported MILLIONS of immigrants?

    I’m sorry, but isn’t it about time you reconsider your politics and your political perspective because if you think they’re working out for people, I humbly disagree.

    This is a time for some self-criticism. It’s time to stop blaming others for our inability to learn from our mistakes. I went to two protests against Donald Trump today. Didn’t see you there.

    1. Thank you for bringing this up. You raise an excellent point, there is a lot in common between the election 8 years ago and the one yesterday. Perhaps most importantly, they were both fueled by a deep desire for change among US voters. I wrote this piece today in large part because we failed to build on that last time. We asked for change, and then we sat back and expected the president to do all of it. The world doesn’t work like that. The president has the power to do some things, but most stuff starts on a local level with passionate every day people making changes in their own communities and only reaches political circles once it’s already picked up steam. If this election was about breaking out of politics as is and putting a non-politician in power, then we need to also recognize that we are the ultimate non politicians and have a lot of power of our own. If we don’t want our country to be shaped by a group of bureaucrats in DC, then we shouldn’t let it! And not just by electing someone to fight that battle for us, we need to fight it ourselves.
      Personally, I have been acting, I’m building a career out of it. Since I only recently moved to Seattle and was previously in an area that leaned red, I’ve also been doing so at least as much with folks who consider themselves republican as with those who’d take the label of democrat. We found issues that were important to all of us, of which there were actually a lot, and had several wins at the city level that helped change our community towards the place we wanted to live in.
      Why didn’t you see me at a Trump protest? Mostly because I was in class and at work, but also because protesting Trump doesn’t change anything. I’d rather spend my energy on campaigning for a fairer distribution of government funds in this state which, while still a pretty uphill battle, is one we have the potential to actually win.