This post is not about food. Instead, it’s about the future of the country.
I have been able to vote in two presidential elections. I came of political age under President Obama; while he was not perfect and there were policies with which I disagreed, I still was overjoyed by much of the progress we made during those eight years. I had believed that we were living in an age where the world was constantly marching forward toward equality, modernity, inclusion, knowledge, and globalism.
And then came November 9, 2016.
I will not re-litigate the election and Trump’s loss of the popular vote, or his unabashed racism, or his obvious hatred of facts, or his suspicious communications with foreign nations, or his inflammatory and divisive language. But I will also never forget how I felt that morning. My father aptly described the mood as if one were in an unfamiliar room in pitch darkness, where each time you lift your foot for your next step, you don’t know if you will place that foot down on the floor or a deep void through which you will fall.
If you are a Trump supporter, that is fine. Your opinions are valid. But so are mine. As a woman, as a child of immigrants, as a non-white citizen — the threats of a Trump administration are very real. And I know I am already privileged relative to so many other people. I am not gay, so I do not fear my right to marriage being taken away. I am not an immigrant myself; I was born in the United States, so I do not fear any revocation of naturalization. I am not Muslim, so I do not fear hate crimes against me or being barred from my country.
In the days after the election, I had clung onto the hope that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign trail was only a ploy to get elected and that he would be a different man once in the White House. But now, in June 2018, I have been proven wrong. I was proven wrong when he issued an executive order banning Muslims. I was proven wrong when he issued via Twitter a desire to ban transgender citizens from the military. I was proven wrong when he was an apologist for Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I was proven wrong when he called the free press an “enemy of the people.” I was proven wrong when he lauded Kim Jong-Un, a brutal autocrat who starves his own people. I was proven wrong when he wreaked havoc at the G7 summit. I was proven wrong when he supported separating children from their parents and putting them in cages.
Yesterday, on June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. He was the key swing vote for Obergefell, which made marriage equality the law of the land. He was also the key swing vote for both Shelby County v. Holder, which clawed back the Voting Rights Act (it’s interesting to note that the 2016 election was the first election in a while without the full force of the VRA) and Trump v. Hawaii, which upheld Mr. Trump’s travel ban.
Justice Kennedy’s legacy is murky, but he nonetheless presents Mr. Trump and Senator McConnell a new opportunity to nominate and confirm a new Supreme Court justice. I feel confident in predicting that the new nominee will be more conservative than Justice Kennedy, making the Court safely conservative as well. I also do not doubt Mr. Trump’s ability to make the search about him, where he would seek a justice who would be personally loyal to him, in the way he wished former FBI Director Comey to be. Whether the new justice is confirmed or lives up to these predictions has yet to be seen.
But I do not feel comfortable just waiting and hoping and seeing. I did not do that in the run-up to the 2016 election, and I was still bitterly disappointed. I did not do that since the inauguration (having called Congress many, many times and donated to many, many organizations), and I was still bitterly disappointed. I certainly won’t do that now.
I urge you to call your senators and make clear to them your wishes for what you want to see in a new Supreme Court justice and what you want to see from your senators in the confirmation process to come. I live in New York, where my senators are solidly Democrat. I know that when I call, my senators will be pushing agendas with which I agree. But I call anyway, because I want my elected officials to know that their constituents support their efforts. If you agree or don’t agree with your senators — call them anyway and make your opinions known.
In the year and a half since the inauguration, I have many times been horrified by the actions and direction of the administration. But I refuse to give up and be resigned, because that not only will not solve anything, but it will be irresponsible. As a citizen, I have the same power as any other citizen to affect change and make my voice heard. To wallow is to abdicate my duty as a citizen. I still believe in the potential of this nation. I do not say that out of hatred, but rather out of love. I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America, and it is that love of country that motivates me to improve this country. Just as a parent disciplines a child out of care and love, so do I criticize the U.S. when I think we can do better. (Do not let anyone tell you that the only way to love a country is to praise.)
I leave you with the words of President Barack Obama:
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can.