I can’t remember if I’ve ever watched an inauguration before this year. I might have watched one of Bill Clinton’s, but it’s hard to remember. I didn’t even watch Obama’s, and that was historical.
But I did watch Trump’s. I woke up at 3AM to watch Trump take office.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan. Not in the least. I never have been. I’ve always thought he was a wormy douche. Back when he was in People magazine during the Ivana divorce. When he showed up all orange and combed over on The Apprentice. When he married Melania in a ceremony so obscene and lavish it made a Kardashian wedding look small. I’ve never liked him. I wouldn’t trust him to hold my pencil, let alone lead my country.
I watched his inauguration because I couldn’t not watch it. I knew what they had gotten us into, but I needed to see it. All “first orange president” jokes aside, this president feels more historic. Like, the first blatantly violent, lying, racist, misogynist, hate mongering president. The first utterly terrifying president.
From the moment he stepped out of his car I sneered. Later, they called his name and he stepped out onto the balcony. I felt sick to my stomach. That smug face. His stupid red necktie. That fucking thumbs up. The irritating, insipid little hand gestures while he gave his speech. Everything he did angered me.
Every day since, the news has left me unsettled. I open Facebook and I’m choked by the outrage of others. I open any news page and I’m too angry to read on. I’ve lost sleep and have had nightmares. I haven’t felt this freaked out and unsure since 9/11.
But I’ve also been feeling something unexpected – awareness. I am aware now that I’ve been doing the least amount possible – i.e. just voting every 4 years, and expecting change to come from others. I was comfortable and spoiled in a presidency that matched nearly all my values. I see my friends going through this awareness, too. I see it in my news feeds. I see it in the protest signs they’ve carried on the weekends.
I know now – the hard way – that voting for president doesn’t cut it. Not in a voting system that doesn’t rely on votes. It’s about paying attention to the real news, not what’s regurgitated through Facebook. It’s about building the force that will help get your ideas to lead the platform. It’s about donating time or funds to organisations that’ll help. It’s about voting smart – from the very bottom up. It’s about understanding the cycles of politics, and feeling ok that this has happened before, and it will happen again, and we will hopefully come out a little better and stronger because of it. He can take away progressive laws, but he can’t wipe away the residue of change. He can sign executive orders, but he can’t sign away the uprising.
Change happened before. It’ll happen again. We will get through it.
We can do this.
Yes, we can.
Now, everyone drop hands and cross all your fingers that we only have 4 years of this asshole.