ESSAY
The Time is Right Now
M.G. Poe

OK, look, about this new administration in Washington D.C…I know it’s frustrating. A lot of you are mad. A lot of you are disgusted, weary, disheartened, bewildered; you want to turn away in despair, turn off the television, stop watching the news, get off social media, retreat from the turn reality and our society appear to be taking. 

PLEASE DON’T. 

Not now. I know you’ve heard this before, but NOW is the time to sit up, tune in, take notice, and realize that society and our socio-political systems are at an historic crossroads. What is happening now, is not a hopeless backtrack or undo of our prior generations’ hard-won causes, but rather, the last dying gasps of an archaic system nearing its demise. It is our job and responsibility as evolutionaries and citizens of the 21st Century to help the old guard finish what they started when they elected Donald Trump. Instead of withdrawing from the fiasco of the current political scene, we need to involve ourselves further in it and do exactly what Donald Trump said he would do: drain the swamp. We, the people, need to begin our own rigorous political vetting, and through the election process have the courage to eliminate all public servants whose political agendas and policies are not just deceptive but archaic, harmful, and hobbling to progress and the evolution of democracy. In this way we can allow the influx of new leadership we can trust and that reflects the ideology and thinking of the new age.

Yeah, I know, at first blush it may sound a little airy-fairy, and practically speaking it doesn’t look encouraging. But listen. There are way too many people (including 46.6% of U.S. voters who are now learning their lessons about why it IS so important to get out and vote) who don’t agree with where the administration is heading, and what our (yes, I said our) President is doing. And, that’s a start.

Let me give you more encouraging facts. Only 25.5% of those who voted in the 2016 election voted for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton got 25.6% of the vote, winning the popular vote by almost 2.9 million.  Donald Trump (though he continues to debate about it), came in, in second place. You do understand, that even though Donald Trump received the electoral college vote, he wouldn’t have, if that 46.6% of the populace that didn’t vote (mostly Democrats and Independents), who would not have voted for him, had come out and voted. Right? The good news is we can begin to fix this NOW and make it work in our favor in 2018, and, again in 2020.

Here’s another positive note. On January 21, 2017, one day after his swearing in, the biggest protest in U.S. history took place against the inauguration and the issues for which the new administration stands, in the form of The Women’s March on Washington. It is said that an estimated 3.3 million women, men, and children marched on the National Mall toward the White House. In New York City a similar march was taking place; there was also one taking place in Chicago, and another in Atlanta, and another in San Francisco, and another in Denver, and another in New Bern, and another in Vancouver, Canada, and in Paris, France, and in London, England, and in Germany, Egypt, South Africa, and Antarctica. People all over the world in sister marches, 75 countries, seven continents, all walking in peaceful worldwide solidarity to us, here, in the United States. The totals of how many people attended are still inconclusive, yet attendance has already far surpassed the estimated 160,000 people in the same area a day before for the presidential inauguration. 500,000 people alone marched in Lost Angeles, California. It is not just spiritually moving, but exhilarating and enervating to know that we are not alone. Most importantly, contrary to how the present administration continues to gaslight it, we are not in the minority. The new resistance movement continues to spark demonstrations and protests, and now even lawsuits against the Federal government almost daily, and in response to the President’s preponderance of Executive Orders. Citing the 10th Amendment, 69 mayors in sanctuary cities across the country have refused compliance with President Trump’s mandate to help Federal officials enforce immigration laws at the expense of innocent citizenry. Currently, the scientific community is also planning a march on the Capitol to protest the Trump administration’s stance on climate change, the censorship of scientific facts, and the government’s “temporary” media-blackout  (now rescinded) and contract freeze of the Environmental Protection Agency. From The Scientists March on Washington website, http://www.scientistsmarchonwashington.com/ : 

“We are working to schedule a March for Science on DC and across the United States. We have not settled on a date yet but will do so as quickly as possible. Although this will start with a march, we hope to use this as a starting point to take a stand for science in politics. Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science.” 

There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action….Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.”

Look, it’s basic. We thought we were further along than we are. The feelings of powerlessness are normal. So are those of anger. But, let’s acknowledge them, use them as impetus, and move forward with action. 

It is easy to retreat into cynicism at times like this. The comedic relief of shows like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show poking fun-full derision at the inept, egotistical actions of the president and his brown-nosing administration are great for late night laughs with a nightcap, but in the light of day remember it is action that brings about change. Those shows offer slivers of enlightenment through humor, pointing out those things in our society which need evolving. Realize that these comedians are trying to wake you up, not have you sit on the couch watching, shaking your heads in disbelief, or railing against the day, while yet doing nothing. Watch those shows, laugh, or get angry, but make sure you use their entertainment value as a tool to see the socio-political schisms that need changing, and those people in power that need removing. Realize that it is now up to us as citizens of this country to go out and help bring about that change. Stop finding fault with each other and the imperfections of a system we already know is flawed. Stop complaining and take action. Get up. Become an activist. Call your congressman or local representative; become a member of groups like The National Organization for Women (NOW), or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); join the marches; sign the petitions; hit like on social media; open discussion with neighbors and friends. Most of us have been taught it’s impolite to discuss politics in social settings; now may be the time to shed that nicety. Connect with others and don’t shy away from bringing up the difficult issues needing attention, because it is in exploration of those issues at a grass roots level that we begin to hear how others feel about them, and so, begin to find solutions for those issues. It is in these ways that we eventually reach Congress. Most importantly, if you haven’t registered to vote, do so, and vote in the 2018 elections. 

These are your heroic opportunities to take action, to become your own activist. Every single voice counts now. This is how we change the world: one voice, one opening, one small act at a time, until the collective of voices and acts becomes louder and louder, and the tipping point into the new reality is reached. “We can whimper; we can whine, or we can fight back,” Senator Elizabeth Warren declared at the Boston site of the Women’s March. As actor America Ferrera put it at the Los Angeles Women’s March, “The President is not America. WE are America.”  

The process of activism is long and arduous, and can be vague and unclear. The key to getting Washington to listen is to unite and listen to each other first. When we exercise our right to peaceful assembly, a right critical to a functioning democracy and at the core of the First Amendment, we protest not just for the sake of making our choices known to our congressional representatives, but most importantly, like the comedians on television, to raise attention to ourselves, and thereby raise the consciousness of our fellow citizens hearing us, to unite and take action, as well. The more we join together, the more we build momentum, until that tipping point of change is reached. And, for those of you who think protest is a hopeless cause, history disagrees. Protests in the United States, albeit not always peaceful, have succeeded in getting the civil rights and voting rights acts passed, and even the war in Vietnam ended. 

Persistence and action result in change. We may not be certain where we’re going yet, or how we’ll get there, but of this we can be certain: We are in the middle of something unprecedented and historic happening and we need to ready ourselves to heed the call to action. Dan Rather, journalist and former anchor of The CBS Evening News interviewed on the January 25th edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, said this:

“These are not normal times, they are extraordinary times, and they call for extraordinary measures. If you don’t like what’s going on…if you want change, you have to do what the Donald Trump forces did: organize, get to the poles, get other people to the poles, be willing to run yourself and put yourself on the line.”

This is no longer about partisanship. It's not even about the President, though it is obvious there is something really wrong with Donald Trump—he’s a guy who can’t stop himself from pathologically lying, stripping words of their meaning in disturbingly dystopian Orwellian doublespeak; an unethical bully who abuses power, who doesn’t appear to have the capacity for long-term critical thinking, nor the discernment necessary to make decisions resulting in the well-being of his constituents or the nation; and, his repeated, absurd, and contradictory behaviors have all the earmarks of madness, but—until he does something impeachable, the presidency is still his. In the meantime, it is up to us to unify, to pursue the causes in which we believe to bring about lasting change. We have done it before; we can do it again. Senator Bernie Sanders says change cannot take place without political participation. “When people stand together for the public interest,” he concludes, “there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.”

And yes, let’s not kid ourselves, the climb, from this point, is an uphill one. But we have  no choice now; we cannot remain silent anymore. A quote commonly attributed to 18th century political theorist Edmund Burke says, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women!) to do nothing.” Cynicism, bickering and hopelessness will not further the causes of women’s rights and human rights, voter rights, the environment, healthcare availability and affordability, income inequality, fair immigration laws, and the continuation of a thriving middle class. What we need now are clarity of mind, stamina, and an engaging, optimistic participation in activism.

We must also stop being distracted by side issues designed to divert our attention away from the real issues. Tin-pot “tweets” by the president and ringing bells of “alternative facts” contrived and disbursed as truths by presidential staff members are chases down rabbit holes, that, with the media’s unconscious complicity, lure our attention away from uniting and aid the Establishment and the President in pushing their own agendas. These side-door controversies serve to pacify us into “spectatorship” in what Pulitzer Prize winner and political theorist Walter Lippmann called the bewildered herd, that portion of the population in a democratic society considered “the majority,” (yeah, us). Noam Chomski in his book Media Control The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda defines Lippmann’s bewildered herd as this: 

“…there are two “functions” in a democracy: the specialized class, the responsible men, [who] carry out the executive function, which means they do the thinking, planning and understand of the common interests. Then there is the bewildered herd, and they have a function in democracy, too. Their function…is to be “spectators” not participants in action. Occasionally, they are allowed to lend their weight to one or another member of the specialized class…. That’s called an election. But once they’ve lent their weight, they’re supposed to sink back and become spectators of action, not participants.” 

It’s time to stop being a part of the bewildered herd. It’s time to stop being a passive participant in the hegemony that is our current government. It’s time to step up and into a more powerful place within the democratic process and our own leadership, understanding that the more we make ourselves seen and heard, the faster that tipping point of change we want will get here. 

We are in the flux of incredible, unpredictable change. Even as you read this, events are happening faster than we can keep up with them. The rise of Donald Trump has proven anything is possible. Letting his leadership run its own destructive course, (which if evidence so far proves, it will), let us then turn our sights to the future and channel our efforts into creating new choices for ourselves, taking into account that, though we may not clearly understand what is happening right now, something momentous truly is happening, and we are in the midst of it. It is on us to unite, pursue, persist, and insist on pushing our democratic ideals forward and into their powerful fruition. As President Barrack Obama told us in 2008 when still the Illinois Senator seeking the democratic nomination for President of the United States, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” We can be the change we want to see in the world. All we have to do is begin. 

The time is right now.


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