Discussing the latest round of news headline assaults on the American psyche while riding in a car, my son and I attempted to come up with something positive about the beginning of this most divisive, Trump era of political and national life.
“He’s an endless supply of fodder for comedians,” my son said.
“He causes artists the kind of existential angst that leads to producing new art,” I added. We drove on in silence, unable to come up with anything else that might be considered a positive outcome.
A few days later, I participated in one of the multitude of Women’s Marches around the country, and I realized when I got home that night that I had another positive to add to the small list since Trump had entered our national life, first as a candidate for President. The Women’s Marches were, of course, either ignored or belittled by Trump and his coterie of Breibart “News” (here, the organization is oxymoron) former employees and other surrogates, now elevated to Trump’s Cabinet, National Security Council, and Executive branch positions. What the Women’s Marches around the country left me with was an indelible sensation of witnessing a waking, engaged electorate.
It has been well-documented that millions, approximately 100 million, eligible American voters did not cast their ballots in the November 2016 Presidential election. I marched with some of those non-voters. There were good people who said that they were not previously interested in politics, they didn’t like politics, and they didn’t see the difference between political parties until now. Trump and his new administration have pointedly demonstrated catastrophic differences, almost on a daily basis.
As we marched, I walked beside a woman who had not voted in years because she felt that all of the issues she was interested in were givens and had long been established into law. Suddenly, she realized, all of those protections she thought were set in stone were under threat or already in the process of being dismantled. Some Americans who marched said they thought the other branches of government would serve to protect any major changes from taking place. They were, however, awakened to the despotic range of Trump’s administration when they saw whole segments of society falling away. Climate Change came off the government website, followed by the Judiciary branch, along with references to LGBT rights. The ban on Muslims entering the country, from areas that were not doing business with Trump, was already in the works. How long would it take before other groups were banned or sanctioned, deported, or jailed?
Trump’s ascension to the White House, whether legitimate or not, has awoken the sleeping giant that is the American electorate who were not voting. Further, Trump’s takeover of the Executive branch has brought many complacent but voting Americans into activism for the first time or, for another large number, for the second time after the great battles of the Civil Rights and women’s rights era in the 1960s.
While Trump advisors Kellyann Conway and Steve Bannon tell the press and dissenters to “shut up,” I submit that America was born in dissent. We rise again.
Nancy Avery Dafoe

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