After Tomorrow, Get to Work

Today President-elect Donald Trump will become President Donald Trump.

Most people – including me – never imagined this scenario would actually be real. But it is and for the next four years there isn’t much we can do about it.

A lot of people in this country are afraid of these next four years, and they have good reason. The president-elect’s campaign rhetoric has earned him the title of American Demagogue.

But there is no use in bashing Candidate Trump anymore. Victorious candidates usually change once inaugurated. They find that most – if not all – of their campaign promises cannot be fulfilled due to a plethora of reasons. Sometimes their policies take effect after the opposition party becomes the majority in Congress. Sometimes the economy isn’t as good as they thought it would be. Sometimes – God forbid – there is a war.

But regardless of what President Trump will do while in office, the fact still stands that there are more of us than there are of him and his cronies.

It’s time to get back to work.

If you believe that contraception and women’s reproductive rights need to be protected and universally accessible, donate or volunteer for Planned Parenthood.

If you are concerned for Americans who are Muslim, volunteer at the Council for American-Islamic Relations.

If you believe reading can change a child’s life for the better, become a reading partner.

Volunteer with animal shelters, churches, soup kitchens, soup kitchens at churches, or vice-versa. Most volunteering opportunities are at the local level, so hopefully Volunteers for America will be able to point you in the right direction.

Find out who your state and congressional representatives are and become a citizen lobbyist.

Remember that the entire House of Representatives will be up for re-election in 2018. If you don’t like your representatives, vote for somebody else and/or volunteer for someone else’s campaign.

Remember the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

There are countless things that you can do to make this country better. I suppose that’s what makes America great. Moonshots, Hoover Dams, skyscrapers and baseball make America cool, but they don’t make America great. What makes America great is its people’s generosity. Believe it or not, Americans are generally good people who care about one another.

It’s also important to remember that decency is not a competition and no one is keeping score. You should also not wait for the “other side” to be decent for you to do the same. The only reward you get for being a good person is for your soul, and that’s what really counts.

Presidents exist to guide us, but we are the final authority of our fate. And when a president sucks we usually soldier through before picking someone else (if we can survive Watergate, Jimmy Carter, AIDs and 9/11, we can survive Trump).

Now get to work.

We Cannot be Afraid

ct-orlando-club-shooting-20160612-056
Richie Compton, left, and Eric Winger kneel at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting outside of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center on June 13, 2016. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)

Yesterday, around this time, I woke up looked at my phone and found out that there was a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. When I showered and dressed, I went to the living room and turned on CNN.

It was then that I found out why I can no longer be afraid.

49 people were killed and 53 were wounded, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. But then I also found out that the nightclub, Pulse, was a gay nightclub, making it the deadliest incident of violence against the LGBTQ+ community according to the Washington Post.

The shooter, who I will not dignify by mentioning his name, is reported to have called 911 and pledge to allegiance to ISIS some time before the shooting. The terror group also took responsibility for the shooting. This also makes it the deadliest terror attack since Sept. 11.

The liberal wing calls it an act of hate directed towards the LGBTQ+ community. Terrorism is only an afterthought and that this shooting stands as yet another reason why the country needs stronger gun-control.

The conservative wing focused on the terrorism aspect. Not wanting to upset their evangelical base, they consider the attack on a gay nightclub being only an afterthought.

I believe that homophobia and radicalism go hand-in-hand in this specific instance. Both were major motivations for the shooter. Depending on whose Twitter feed you look at, it’s an either/or situation. Both sides of the political spectrum want to portray it as being black and white.

It is not. There are a myriad shades of gray, each differing in a complex series of context and motivations.

Considering a lot of people were killed for no reason, this of course shouldn’t matter at all. But during times of relentless sorrow, we try to find reason where there is none. It’s the healing taking effect in real-time.

I will not discuss how Florida’s gun laws played a part in this attack. I have written at length my views on gun-control and I will not do it again. Instead, I will focus on the motivation: homophobia.

It is true that the ideology – which is not at all Islam – shared by groups like ISIS and others condemn homosexuality as a sin on par with murder. The fact that the shooter adhered to this strict ideology of Islamic holy texts is a factor in his prejudice. According to the shooter’s father, he became enraged after seeing a same-sex couple kiss in public. This happened a few months before the attack. However, Islamic extremism is not the only faucet of homophobic rhetoric.

“The United States can’t forget to tackle the ways that homegrown ignorance and anti-LGBT rhetoric and violence still contribute to the marginalization of our fellow citizens,” wrote Karren Attiah in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune.

As has been abundantly clear in many instances, members of the conservative wing are to blame for the normalization of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and discrimination. Attiah also points out in her op-ed that Florida senator Marco Rubio created a “marriage and family advisory board” that supports conversation therapy. Congressman Devin Nunes (R-California) voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2007 and for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. North Carolina governor Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that bans transgender people from using public restrooms that corresponds with their gender identity. As many companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank have halted plans to create hundreds of jobs in the state.

Yet all of those politicians have either released statements or tweeted about the Orlando shooting. Most of them offering condolences and thoughts and prayers. Whether they are aware of their own hypocrisy or not we’ll never know.

The shooter’s father also posted an online video saying acknowledging that homosexuals are sinners, but that it is up to God to punish them – I guess that makes it better.

Though this country has made great strides towards equality for all marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ+ community, there are still deep biases and prejudices that exist and Orlando reminded us all of that.

After the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land, there were still a few holdouts. As chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore ordered that the ruling be ignored and that the ban on same-sex marriage continue. Kim Davis, the county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When Davis was jailed for ignoring the ruling, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee jumped on it as a means to strengthen his national profile.

Thankfully all three of these people were brought to justice. Moore has been suspended from the bench and awaits a hearing before the state’s Court of the Judiciary. Davis is allowing her office to issue licenses to same-sex couples but without her signature. Huckabee, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2008 and 2016, is no longer a part of the equation. All together, these three individuals represent a culture’s unwillingness to accept change.

But LGBTQ+ rights does not stop after marriage equality. According to the Human Rights Campaign 28 states still allow housing discrimination based on sexual orientation while 30 states still allow it based on gender identity. Twenty-nine states still allow public accommodations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Thirty-five states still do not have legislation that address discrimination against LGBTQ+ youths in public schools.

If this were a race of people or specific ethnic group, it would be unacceptable by the mainstream culture. But somehow a majority of states still believe it’s acceptable to look at us and say we are second-class citizens.

The shooter was raised in an environment and society that normalized homophobia and transphobia. As a result 49 people were killed.

It is fitting that the 70th annual Tony Awards were broadcasted on Sunday. Theater has always been a haven for outcasts, and LGBTQ+ youths know a lot about being outcasts.

“Your tragedy is our tragedy,” said Corden with the entirety of the theater community behind him, all with little silver ribbons.

In addition to James Corden’s touching tribute at the beginning of the broadcast, the most powerful moment was during the opening number when children stood in the spotlight, then darkness, and when light flooded the stage, they all turned out to be the acting nominees.

There are a lot of emotions that we’re experiencing and the hurt may never go away. But we cannot be afraid. If we’re afraid, the extremists and bigots wins. We cannot let them win. We’ll keep holding our parades and waving rainbow flags. We’re going to do these things because it’s who we are and also because it infuriates them.

We have the freedom to be who we are and they hate that. They also hate videos like this:

They never win. So let’s not be afraid.

It’s Time to Move On

I have refrained from publishing my personal opinions on the election to the best of my ability. It is true that there has been the occasional tweet, Facebook post and comment in reviews,  but there has yet to be a detailed piece publicly displaying my views on this election and the candidates. As a journalist, I do not find it right to display my political leanings. Since beginning my career, I listed my beliefs as “Politically Ambiguous” and reserved my opinions to private conversation between trusted colleagues, friends and family. But it is time to share my thoughts on this year’s election. It’ll most likely be the only time I do so.

bernie-sanders-portrait-03

Bernie Sanders is the president that the country needs. He understands that students who want to further their education should not be held hostage by crippling debt. He knows that it is inherently wrong that a single mother who works 40 hours a week struggles to feed her children. He knows that health care should be a human right and not a privilege. He knows what America can be.

But at this moment in time, Sanders cannot be the president.

On April 26 he lost four out of five primaries. Even as the map shifts to the west towards West Virginia, Indiana, Oregon and California, the possibility of Sanders clinching the nomination is unforeseeable.

In short, when it comes down to it, Sanders can’t play the game.

There will no doubt be a lot of talk about how the system is rigged against him, how Independents were turned away at the polls, how not all of the polling places were opened. No doubt these issues are valid and they must be addressed in future elections.

But these rules and regulations were in place when the progressives backed Barack Obama in 2008 and not once was there an uproar.

Sanders didn’t win in key states because he can’t play properly.

Though the office of President of the United States is a serious office for serious people, the process in which we choose the individuals who eventually occupy the White House is nothing more than a circus.

It’s why bozos and wingnuts are able to thrive in the primaries and caucuses. Their messages speak to the animal senses of people who don’t actually care about the welfare of the country, but instead about how personable a candidate is.

1035x1193-R1258_FEA_Endorse_A
Illustration by Roberto Parada

Hillary Clinton on the other hand knows how to play the game; she’s been around it her entire adult life. Ever since her husband ran in ’92 — one of the most organized campaigns in modern history — she has been building an apparatus for herself. In her mind, she has been president since 2000.

Clinton can play the game and she has the people to create a strategy that would last her to election day. It was going to be a rocky road ahead. She has baggage and the GOP was going to throw everything they had at her, and they did (and they’ll continue doing it).

But she has prepared for those attacks since the day she became Secretary of State. Ever since the GOP began their crusade to de-legitimize Obama’s administration, she knew that their line against her would be “4 more years of Obama.” There is no doubt in my mind that she prepared for that line.

Clinton has also prepared for the crusade to de-legitimize her if she gets into office. It’s possible that she has prepared her outfit for a dinner in 2024. The fact is that for eight years after her failed bid for the nomination, she organized every detail of her campaign slowly, quietly, softly.

The Sanders campaign lacked the organization and skills that has been the strength of “Clintonia” since ’92. He didn’t prepare the way Clinton did, he only decided to run because he saw that there were too many injustices in the world. Sanders is running for president because he’s a good man.

Clinton’s running because she knows she can win.

Clinton has been perfecting her national image for 32 years. Sanders only had one.

Clinton had the name recognition, experience in the Senate and State Department, all fueled by her ambition — viewed as both a weakness and strength.

Even with the help of the internet, Sanders was never able to gain traction because like his campaign, the internet activists are just as disorganized.

Early in the race, they were already calling foul on the super delegate system — a system they would have no issue with if super delegates evenly matched with both Clinton and Sanders.

Being a Sanders supporter was great fun. It was refreshing to support a candidate who truly believed in the issues that he campaigned on.

But now comes the healing.

With the general election inching nearer, it’s time to start looking at the big picture.

On the other side, there is a storm-a-comin’. Though the GOP is tearing itself to shreds, the real danger is in the frontrunner.

Donald Trump wants GOP voters to believe that he is this machismo bigot with blue-collar attitude who wants to build a giant wall on the border. A pharaoh who has built great big things to his own majesty and awesome.

This is all fiction. The Donald that is running for president is no more than a character he made up — a much more horrifying reality. The Donald has absolutely no idea what he’s doing; but he’s doing it, so it must be good (in his mind).

He’s nothing more than Johnny Knoxville in “The Ringer.” It’s not a dumb move to compete in a contest filled with the least qualified coterie of candidates imaginable in order to win, that doesn’t make him inherently smart.

But the GOP base has spoken, they want Jeffy Dahmor as their nominee, and though the party establishment will tear itself apart to stop that from happening, the party insiders are not smart enough to let the party die for the good of the country.

In short, the only way for the United States to preserve some form of order is if a Democratic succeeds President Obama. Whether it be Sanders or Clinton, it does not matter.

The GOP has shown in the past few cycles that they will not make the right decision.

I will support Sanders for as long as he is in the race. But it is not Bernie or bust. It was never Bernie or bust. At this time, his fight is to make sure that income inequality are pushed to the forefront of the national conversation.

The real victory is that Sanders’ progressive views defined the political attitude in the Democratic party, not Clintonia’s.

Because of Sanders, Clinton had to move to the left and she will have to support those left-leaning policies as president if she has any hopes for re-election.

This is not about whether Clinton is more qualified than Sanders to be president. They are both qualifed to serve their country as commander in chief. They are for sure more qualified than the Donald will ever be.

The Democratic Party cannot allow itself to became divided like the Republican Party. If that were to happen, it would mean victory for the Republican nominee.

The two wings of the party must stand united in order for the republic to survive. This is a fact.

So I’ll end with one final note: Hillary Clinton for president, Bernie Sanders for America.

Hernie
photo from the Associated Press