In many countries, if the populace voted for an unfit demagogue of unnatural proportions, the population would have to simply sit it out. In many countries, dictators take power and keep it for decades. There are parts of the world where a madman rises to power and the rest of the world watches for a generation before change is made. In the United States, we have elected in our cowardice and our shame an unfit president.
I spoke to one of my friends last night who is always the first to be involved in national politics. His students are in mourning, and after comforting them, he is doing what Americans do; he is going back to work. He plans to not watch politics for the next four years. He’s hibernating from politics. I understand. You get tired. You get beaten down, and this election has taken the wind out of our sails.
Some people say, “That’s what Trump wants, for us to be beaten down, for us to want to move to Canada,” and I say, “I’m not interested in the least in what he wants.” We’ve spent months hearing what he wants and none of it was good. I’m not interested for a moment in getting inside Trump’s head. I’m sure it would be a sordid place to be. I’m interested in what can make America a country of which I can be proud. I travel to Europe several times a year; I’m interested in who we are and how the rest of the world sees America.
But our young people are not tired and beaten down. They are protesting as is their right. They are protesting across the nation. Protests are a way of showing national outrage, they are a way of letting the far right know that we will be watching, that we will not hibernate, that they will be held accountable. I support the millennials’ right to get out there and mourn collectively. Why do we go to concerts when we can hear music at home? It is to be with like-minded people. I love the millennial energy. I love them blazing toward change and taking the country with them. They know how to crowd source and they know how to mobilize, and they are going to change the world.
The movement gathering steam on Change.org to request that the Electoral College follow the popular vote and vote for Hillary now has nearly four million signatures. But it is not being covered by much of the mainstream media. People Magazine and Huffington Post have covered it. It may be a way of venting, a way of processing fear, outrage, and anger, but it is better than hibernating, it is better than crying at home, This administration needs to know that the American people are engaged.
And to my hibernating friend? Bears hibernate and then they come out of hibernation, eat some honey and fish and start walking around. If you need to be a bear, be a bear, but come out at some point and be part of the change that is coming.
If all the Americans who are outraged wake up every day and be the change we are asking for, we can make America great because what makes America great is a celebration of individual identity of people of all race, religion, ethnicity, gender preference, and ability. It is compassion; it is creating safe spaces and safe cities. I read Bill Moyers and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writings about the end of empire, and it is a time for the end of empire. But conquest is not what makes this a country a place that people flock to, it’s inclusion. Jazz was born in New Orleans because it was a city with so many different ethnic identities and musical influences that they comingled and created a new art form. That’s America at our best. We’re creating jazz for the world, a musical syncopation of flexibility, spontaneity and rhythm. Living together, celebrating, making music, writing stories, building community. We can still do this. The three branches of government rest on the will of the people and are supposed to serve the people. The world will judge us not on how we lie down but on how we get up and fight. Asking the Electoral College for change may be a symbolic ask, but it is part of the Constitution; it is possible, and just because it hasn’t been done in our lifetime, doesn’t mean it can’t start now. Where would we be if Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez had said, “It can’t be done?” Making change in America starts with me. I ask you this, if Hillary had won, would the Trump supporters be pressuring the Electoral College? Of course they would. The progressives are too timid; we must take action. Our lives are at stake as is the life of the planet. Let’s step up to the plate and ask for the change for which the Constitution makes room. We the people. We Americans. Be the change.