Walking through the very silent early morning streets of San Francisco on the first day of this year, I thought about the previous 365 days. There were so many horrible things about 2016 that I am especially hopeful for 2017. I have to be. We all must be hopeful, and to remain courageous in our convictions.
As President Barack Obama said:
“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”
Settling for the world as it is, with its glass ceiling for women, is unthinkable. We must not only shatter that ceiling, but also crack it into a million pieces. It may well break soon under its own weight, because so many women in America are mad as hell and are not going to take the misogyny, rape culture, and other longstanding problems exacerbated by the election of Donald Trump.
I believe that women will lead us out of this mess. An important literal step is to join and support The Women’s March on Washington on January 21 and in the Sister Marches that will be held across the nation, and even internationally. We need to come together in strength. We need community. All of you who are heartbroken about Hillary Clinton losing and about Trump winning: come and bring a friend. We need our allies, friends and everyone who will to stand with us now to control overreach by this mistake of a president.
Here are just some of the issues at stake to consider as we approach that fateful week, which will include both the marches and Trump’s inauguration:
The president elect is rushing forward hearings on his cabinet appointments. The governmental ethics folks have complained that they have not had the opportunity to vet the appointments. Some of the appointees have not even submitted financial records. Of note is the fact that most of these appointees are billionaires; untangling the conflicts of interest these appointees present is complex, and should be mandatory before they have a hearing.
Women’s Right to Choose
Republicans in state houses countrywide and in Congress are rolling up their sleeves to make sure they can overturn Roe v Wade. They do not give a rat’s ass for women’s rights, as evidenced by their support of the pussy-grabbing braggart about to run roughshod over our lives. Now, more than ever, become a supporter of Planned Parenthood and take action locally with them to defend the right for women to retain healthcare choices.
Trump’s Conflicts of Interest; Illegal Hacking
FBI, CIA and NSA investigations of the illegal hacking that affected the presidential election now include investigations into Trump and his minions. This disturbing matter should be on all of our minds. We need to start coordinating social media response to push forward. There have been a few lawsuits filed, but the investigations need to continue and we can all vocally support them. As much as we all should remain curious skeptics about everything, we need to support our defense and intelligence experts on this one.
Social Security and Medicare
Paul Ryan is already moving forward with a voucher system of privatized Medicare. That means limited benefits while doing nothing but encouraging higher costs. This is paving a road to overall negative effects on public health and quality of life, unless you are in the one percent.
Already the GOP senate has been gnawing at the bit regarding the Affordable Healthcare Act. However, (surprise surprise) they don’t have anything to replace Obamacare with and they apparently are now worried about leaving people without healthcare. Imagine that. They have spent the last four years bashing everything about Obamacare, and now it turns out people actually like it. Don’t rest on this. They will still grab headlines in their fight to undermine important gains achieved during Obama’s presidency.
Many states are already taking up transphobic legislation about who uses what bathroom. Congress just removed protections against LGBT discrimination. My guess will be that America has already turned the corner in support of LGBT rights, and any efforts to turn back the clock will fail. The challenges will come, however, and we must all be prepared to mobilize.
Climate Control Agreements
Trump’s appointments are horrific for our environment. Those whom he is putting in charge of our environment don’t believe in protecting it. They do not even believe that climate change is occurring. Their rational is tied to the fact that Trump and his nominated Secretary of State are set to make billions of dollars by increasing our reliance on fossil fuels. This plays right into the issue of relations with Russia, which appears hell-bent on draining their country and ours of all natural resources.
While many, including myself, would argue our current trade deals are much too soft on workers’ rights, benefits and more—and can use changing as a result—calling for ending agreements undermines any trust countries might have in working with us. This is another pull of Trump’s strings by Putin.
NATO, United Nations
Trump’s message is that we should pull out of our NATO agreements. He and his followers are putting at risk our partner agreements with nations across the world. Our allies are now nervous, and the effects of the alt right lean in the U.S. could very well spread to encourage breaking up of the European alliances. Again, undermining our relationships, partnerships and agreements with other free countries plays right into Putin’s hands.
What the series of marches and coming together will do is to empower and support not only us, but also our elected officials who are preparing to fight hard and long until such threats to our livelihoods and democratic values are no more.
As you can see from the list of local events that follows this piece, those of you in the Bay Area who can’t make it to The Women’s March on Washington have options right where you live. Please be loud, active and visible until we can undo this illegitimate election. Each and every day, additional facts are coming to light that give more credence to the belief that our country has been hijacked by a foreign interest and an unqualified soon-to-be-president. If we aren’t out there, making our voices heard, then Trump and his band of crooks could very well break our democracy.
At least we are seeing some really creative activism. The “pussy-hat” knitting group, with members who are knitting hats for march attendees, comes to mind. Check https://www.pussyhatproject.com for details. San Francisco’s own Terry Baum has created a really interesting project, “Postcards for Democracy,” involving postcard writing parties aimed at specific leaders to take action. Keep up with such projects on her blog at http://terrybaum.blogspot.com/2016/11/democracy-anyone-write-postcards-to.html
There is even a group forming to have phone-bank up and running all the time. You can learn more at a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DemocracyActionSF/ Participants are making calls everywhere democrats are running, every time an important issue is up, and every time we need to make our decision makers hear from us.
A democracy exists because people participate. You all need to take this responsibility seriously, or we lose. Whoever shows up makes the rules. As Clinton, inspired by John Wesley, shared: “Do all the good you can—measure your life by the positive effect you can have on other people’s lives.”
The next four year could spell the end of democracy as we know it. Don’t let this happen. Activate.
Debra Walker is a Commissioner for the City and County of San Francisco Building Inspection Commission. A past president of the Commission, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the San Francisco Arts Democratic Club, Walker is also an internationally recognized painter and printmaker. For more information: http://www.debrawalker.com/