By Olivia Comstock
In the past year, the news has been filled with election coverage. Some of it was hopeful, some of it was scary, but it was constant and unyielding. Now, Donald Trump has been elected and women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQA+ people are all scared for what will happen to their rights. The news is story after story of what awful bill has been passed, law has been rescinded, bans have been put in place, and what Donald Trump plans to do next. Even just seeing headlines such as defund Planned Parenthood, exclude trans kids from bathrooms, take away the Affordable Care Act, and ban immigration is extremely depressing. Actually reading the news articles is even worse. It seems like every day there is a new awful event happening in our country. It seems like our civil rights are moving backwards at fast pace. It seems like these next four years this pattern will only continue. This is why we need to stay political. This is why we need to stay aware.
We need to stay political because it is too easy to ignore all of those headlines and become apathetic, unconcerned, and unwilling to fight. I often hear people say that they are not keeping up with the news because it is just too depressing, there is too much to take in, or they just do not want to. I am not excluded from this; I too do not want to read about executive decisions that are going to hurt people. From pockets of privilege, it is easy to ignore what is happening. For those kinds of people, reading about it makes them more depressed than the actual real change will because they will not be directly affected by it. It is hard to connect a headline to individual lives, but each of these pieces of news is affecting real people. These folks do not have the privilege to choose whether or not they want to pay attention to the news or whether or not it makes them too depressed to read those articles. They have to keep up on it because it affects their life, their family’s lives, and their future. It is dangerous if they do not read it. A child of parents who are illegal immigrants must keep up for fear of their parents being deported. They cannot afford to be apathetic. If you are not in that group, you still need to stay politically aware because I am sure over time we will all feel the consequences of the changes that are happening now.
We need to stay political because apathy gives Trump more power. Not only does apathy give power to Trump now, but also political apathy is what got Trump elected in the first place. Trump uses his platform as president to make many claims about what he is going to do, announce what he has done, and show the progress of his bills, bans, and withdrawals. These show up as headlines on every major news source, which then arrive on your Facebook feed. By flooding the public with depressing rhetoric and disheartening announcements, Trump is trying to make us indifferent. The more horrible headlines we read, the number we become to what is happening. This is true of anything: the more violence we see the number we are to violence. It works the same way with politics. Then, the less we care about what is happening, the more that he and his cronies are able to get away with. In an article comparing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to the current administration, she suggests, “Such unwillingness (to march, to be political), multiplied, may be fatal to a free society.”
We need to stay political. We need to be reading the headlines and the full articles of what is happening in our country. We need to have conversations with our fellow citizens about what is happening. We need to be marching. We need to be shouting. We need to be angry. We need to be sad. We need to be scared. We need to do these things so we can stop four years of horror from happening to our country and our people. As citizens in a democracy, we are responsible for rising up against an administration that will destroy so many parts of what makes America great. It may seem like you are powerless against what is happening, but that is what those in charge want you to think. They want to make you small and helpless to their power, but you can band together with like-minded people and resist. As Foucault suggests, “Where there is power, there is resistance.”