EDITOR’S NOTE: The Resistance

By on November 15, 2016

This is not the time to say, ‘Everything is going to be OK.’

(Photo: Robyn Vincent)

(Photo: Robyn Vincent)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Like many of you, I have spent the last week in mourning. But my despair is not tied to Democrats versus Republicans or Hillary Clinton’s loss. I assure you, I would not sob over a Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio presidency.

This is about what the election of Donald J. Trump is rapidly normalizing in America: racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, a rejection of science and intellectualism, and a disdain for the democratic pillars that this country was built on, such as free speech and a free press.

The tears that stain my cheeks are also for the people in this country and the world who no longer feel safe: African Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims and women. I am deeply concerned about the impending erosion of our civil liberties, that Trump already appointed a notorious climate change denier to head the EPA’s transition team, and that more than 200 incidents of hateful harassments and intimidation were reported in just the three days following the election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Locally, people on Facebook commented, “Shoot them,” in response to folks peacefully protesting hate and violence in the Town Square on Saturday. Then on Sunday another local received a message in which he was referred to as “a slant eyed gook motherfucker.”

I’ll give you a moment to digest all of that.

So how do we proceed? The answer is together.

First, don’t be a bystander. Send a message to those spewing bigotry that their behavior will not be tolerated—whether that means documenting an incident with your phone and reporting it to police or physically positioning yourself next to a person enduring some form of harassment.

We must also have face-to-face conversations with the non-violent folks who voted for this demagogue. You owe it to every minority who is now vulnerable. Stop immuring yourself with only the people and media that promulgate your views (an offense I am decidedly guilty of). Start crafting potent and pragmatic talking points, items that you can quickly refer to when having these conversations. Here’s one: Trump is not an outsider—though he successfully depicted himself as one and it’s a key reason people voted for him. He is not different from the system that has emboldened his ascent. Already he has appointed longtime career politicians—not outsiders—to head his transition team and cabinet, including Russell Pearce, the lawmaker responsible for this country’s most racist legislation to date, Arizona’s S.B. 1070. It allows police to demand immigration papers from anyone in that state based solely on how they look. Among the “outsiders” Trump has appointed to his cabinet is white supremacist and former head of the propagandist website Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon. Under his leadership the site has published incendiary stories about women, Jews, African Americans and Muslims.

Second, it is important to remember that your profound grief and anxiety are not an overreaction. Trump’s America is a country we do not recognize and we cannot sit back and espouse that everything is going to be just fine; I will not arrive to the acceptance stage in my grieving process. While I will accept his presidency, I refuse to accept what his presidency stands for. We have seen throughout history what happens when people become complacent, when they trade common sense for fear, abandon their moral compasses and feel powerless in the face of their government. We cannot sit idly by and let that happen.

One thing that molded America into the tolerant, progressive nation that it is today, and that we know it can still be, is the collective power of the people. Social movements ended a war. They birthed civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental protections that have forever propelled this country forward. Do not think for a second that peacefully protesting what this presidency symbolizes is un-American or that it is a protest against the democratic process. It is not. It is a protest against a dangerous, isolationist, autocratic America and it is now your duty.

As Wyomingites, our small population can assert a disproportionately strong voice with our state electeds. Call, don’t write, your representatives every day. From former Congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth: “The most effective thing is to actually call them on the phone at their district (state) office. They have to talk to you there.”

Ellsworth, a Salt Lake City-based writer and editor, worked for Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, for whom she acted as a liaison for people and the federal agencies, CNN reported.

As you talk to your neighbors and engage in the political process, let this notion be a Band-Aid for your wounds: the resistance will indeed begin in America’s towns and cities. Locally we chose two revolutionary, altruistic candidates who were inspired to run for office because of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the antithesis of Trump. I expect Mayor-elect Pete Muldoon and County Commissioner-elect Greg Epstein to govern in sharp contrast to Trump’s America and to indefatigably protect this area’s citizens with brazen legislation. If they do not, The Planet will hold them, and all other lawmakers here, accountable. (Read more in The Buzz.)

It is also time to support the watchdogs who are rolling up their sleeves readying for battle: independent media outlets, the American Civil Liberties Union (which received almost 200,000 new Facebook likes this past week), the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other organizations that work to protect the environment and human rights. These are the people who will challenge Trump’s abuses of power and unconstitutional promises.

Lastly, and most importantly, we have to cease behaviors that deepen the divide—violent protesting or directing inflammatory language at those who don’t agree with us must stop. We cannot be recalcitrant in trying to understand other people’s struggles.

For the disillusioned working class of Middle America, Trump painted a grim picture of this country (one that is now materializing) and promised to be the messiah. His success hinged on people voting against their self-interests. For me, part of this notion crystallized when The Planet posted a story on its Facebook page about a Dakota Access Pipeline protest. The event fell two days after the election so organizers billed it as a Trump protest too. One of the Facebook commenters, seemingly unaware of the president-elect’s positions on minorities, the environment, and oil and gas development, responded: “So what of the people who support Trump but protest the pipeline?” Imagine how many well-meaning people like this are out there. We cannot afford to alienate these folks.

It is time to take comfort in the following and to champion these words day and night: dissent is the highest form of patriotism, and no one should align with their government’s rhetoric without digging into its actions. Then we must find ways to insert this ethos into every conversation:

We are in this together.

After all, the more divided we become, the more power we relinquish.

This week’s issue of The Planet is populated with energizing messages of activism and free speech, and political analysis and commentary. Expect more of this content from us for the foreseeable future.

As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small, thoughtful group of citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

The Planet is ready. Are you? PJH

Send comments to editor@planetjh.com

About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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