We Are Now All Freedom Fighters
The first great war of the 21st century is upon us.
This war will not be fought with bombs and bullets. There will be no troops or trench warfare. Drones will not take to the skies. Aircraft carriers will not traverse the seas. Tanks will not trample the ground. Generals will not sit around compounds meticulously tracking the enemy's movements. Civilians will not trudge through bombed out cities. It will be a war unlike any we've seen in human history.
Because this new war will be fought purely on ideology.
Much like our country's own Civil War, this newest conflict will pit brother versus brother and neighbor against neighbor. But unlike that struggle, this new war will not have people taking up arms against each other and their government. Rather this struggle will be one waged through open dialogues and discussions. It will be up to us, pragmatic progressives, to take the lead on this and to engage and interact with those with whom we might have previously avoided. We cannot simply "unfriend" half the country and hope to ever have a successful progressive agenda moving forward.
Because we now live in a world where 60 million Americans openly cast their vote for a fascist demagogue. His history of racism, sexism, and xenophobia were no secret. Neither were his ties to Russia, his refusal to release his tax returns, or his failed business ventures. Absolutely none of us should be surprised that he has included a White supremacist in his inner circle and that one of his leading candidates for Secretary of State is an extreme neocon hell bent on bombing Iran. As Maya Angelou famously said, "When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time." Donald Trump showed 60 million of us exactly who he was and they embraced him with open arms.
And yet, there are more of us who didn't embrace this candidate and what he stands for.
There are at least 61 million of us who don't see and treat women as objects and believe that women should have control over their health care decisions. There are at least 61 million of us who don't consider all our Latino neighbors as rapists as thieves. There are at least 61 million of us who don't believe Muslims should be banned from our country. There are at least 61 million of us who believe climate change is real and that it poses a significant threat to our national security. There are at least 61 million of us who know that Black Lives Matter and that systemic racism exists in our education and criminal justice systems. There are at least 61 million of us who know that someone working full time shouldn't end up in poverty due to a low minimum wage. And there are at least 61 million of us who want college to be more affordable and for college graduates not to be saddled with mountains of debt upon graduation.
In short, there are more of us than there are of them.
But as this election showed, there are simply not enough of us. That is why we, as members of the progressive movement, need to educate our fellow citizens whenever we get the chance. We need to combat misinformation. We need to dispel stereotypes. We need to correct outdated views. We need to hold our media accountable and to call them out for deliberately manipulating facts for financial gain. And, most importantly, we need to lead by example and be the change we want to see in the world. We need to hold the door for the person behind us. We need to tip graciously at restaurants. We need to help a stranger carry his or her groceries to their car. We need to smile and say hello to strangers on a bus, train, or airplane. We need to stand up to anyone we see trying to put someone else down. We need to engage our uncle at Thanksgiving with whom we disagree. We shouldn't simply listen to him but actually hear what he has to say. We shouldn't raise our voice, but we should be firm and confident in our views. At the very least, we need to give him something to consider as he departs for the evening.
We need to do all these things each and every day and we need to start now. The time for mourning is over. Our country is on the precipice of what history will view as a monumental moment in the direction in which our country took. Progressives have the majority of the people, but we do not control a single branch of government. The only way to get us there is to stand up to what is going on and have frank discussions with those with whom we disagree. If we cannot openly and honestly engage our fellow Americans, then everything we will have fought for will be lost. The progressive movement cannot remain silent in the era of Trump. If it does, there's no hope for the movement going forward. We need all of us to be 21st century freedom fighters now more than ever.
The future of our country depends on it.
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