STAFF ED: This is What Democracy Looks Like
March 2, 2017
These two words were the first to be spoken and rang out throughout the quad as the walkout began, similarly followed by, “Not my president.”
On Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, a group of Clayton students participated in a walkout protesting the swearing in of Donald Trump to the position of President of the United States.
While we understand the frustration and anguish behind the recent elections, we would like to extend a word of caution.
Though these words may represent how some students feel, it certainly does not represent all. Plenty of students took this walkout opportunity to make this walkout a positive experience, sharing thoughts on civil disobedience, injustice and democracy.
Yet, how long can we continue to chant, “Not my president?” How long can we deny the existence of a new political leader?
Donald Trump is our president. Yes, it is true.
This has been the reality since Jan. 20 and the question at hand is, can we accept it?
Denial is damaging. Negativity is nocuous. Hatred is harmful.
When we say “Not my president,” we are only retreating back into a corner. We are becoming close-minded. We are submitting to negativity with no solution. This rhetoric is counterproductive.
David Frum, writer for The Atlantic, in his article “How to Build an Autocracy,” clearly comments on the dangers of this negative rhetoric and how it may be produce the opposite of the desired effect.
He warns, “civil unrest will not be a problem for the Trump presidency. It will be a resource. Trump will likely want not to repress it, but to publicize it… The more offensively the protesters behave, the more pleased Trump will be.”
Rather than asking if we can accept it, we need to accept it and focus on what we are going to do about it. We have been given rights to freedom of speech and assembly and we need to use them to our advantage. We need to use them to create positive change.
The day after Trump took oath, an estimated 470,000 people attended the Women’s March on Washington.
Crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University found this number to be nearly three times the number of people atthe inauguration the day before.
672 other marches were held across the globe, with a total of 4,956,422 participants worldwide. These marches, one of which took place in downtown Saint Louis, were permeated with positivity. The marches provided hope for the future, rather than ineffective negativity reflecting the past.
Supporters sported slogans such as “Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Power” and “Love not hate makes America great.”
Student and Close-Up trip attendee, Lauren Aiello, commented on the contrast she felt between the inauguration and the women’s march. She said, “Everyone there, male or female, Black or White or Asian or Hispanic or Muslim or whatever, were all united with a common desire for equality and it was so positive. Being at the march oddly felt a lot more historic and meaningful than the Inauguration.”
People are ready to have their voice be heard and spread hope and positivity.
As citizens of a country based upon the people’s voices, daily actions can be taken to incite change whether it be organizing a local protest or lobbying for local legislature.
Talk to your senators. Donate to organizations that reflect what you would like to see in the country. Care for the environment. Spread the sentiments of hope and kidness within your community and beyond.
Politicians can ignore denial but they cannot ignore a multitude of voices pushing for change.
If you want something done, there is no better time than now. Trump’s election has already served as fuel for new momentum and motivation for change. Let’s come together and take action for the future. Our voices cannot be ignored