The progressive people of Portland – and the United States – are reeling from the election of Donald Trump. Many feel confused, beaten and hopeless. These feelings are real, and they are understandable. But we are not hopeless. And we are not beaten. The hope is you. The hope is me. The change is us.
As a nation, we must grapple with the fact that the country that twice elected Barack Obama has now elected an unqualified, explicitly racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic man who is already filling his administration with white supremacists and anti-Semites. With a Republican Congress waiting in the wings, Trump’s bigoted campaign promises are now likely to be impending legislation.
Trump and his administration will attempt to pass policies that are detrimental and dangerous to the safety and livelihood of just about every group of people other than white, affluent men. The election of Trump leaves already marginalized communities even more vulnerable to both state and non-state violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, nearly 900 hate crimes have been reported since Nov. 8, with the majority being anti-black, anti-immigrant, or anti-Muslim in nature. And Oregon tops the list for hate crimes per capita.
As we grapple with the reality of what a Trump presidency will bring, history and justice call on us to move past feelings of defeat and despair, and take bold action. Trump and his administration aren’t going anywhere for the next four years. We can’t afford to wait it out and hope 2020 will bring a president with some decency and integrity. The fight is not over – it is just beginning, and we can and must win.
By engaging and mobilizing, we can be agents of change. Our parents and grandparents fought World War II to stop fascists from taking over. Our past and future demand that we fight too. And that we win.
We can and must stop Trump’s impact on the law. It’s been encouraging to see our U.S. senators and congressional delegation denounce Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Additionally, both Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have called upon Trump to fire his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, a known white-supremacist and former head of the neo-Nazi website Breitbart News. We must apply pressure, calling on our U.S. senators and congressional leadership to continue doing just that because we cannot afford to normalize a Trump presidency. It’s imperative we remain vigilant of growing and emboldened white supremacist movements and rhetoric in our own backyard here in Oregon, and ensure this hate doesn’t translate into policy.
We’re likely to see anti-immigrant proposals introduced in the Legislature and at the ballot box. These measures can be defeated, if we prepare to organize against them at every front. Engaging with organizations such as the Rural Organizing Project, Causa, Unite Oregon and Acción Política PCUNista will be crucial in this fight.
We can and must stop Trump at the ballot box. As progressives, realizing our vision for a more just and equitable future will depend on progressive wins in the 2018 and 2020 election. For this to happen, we must support grassroots organizing efforts both in our own communities and in key states. Give what you can to these efforts, whether it’s money or time. A $10 donation to a local advocacy or organizing group goes a long way. MovementVote.org provides a comprehensive list of grassroots organizations nationwide that are part of a larger progressive movement. These are organizations doing essential work that need our broad support.
To stop Trump, we must fight to protect voter access, be alert to voter suppression efforts and work to increase voter turnout. Voter suppression efforts such as voter ID requirements and closing polling locations disproportionately hurt folks who live in poverty, people of color, and trans and gender non-conforming people. While in Oregon it’s relatively easy to vote thanks to vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration through the DMV, there is still work that needs to be done to ensure equitable access to voting. Significant numbers of minority-language voters don’t have access to voting materials in any language other than English including the instructions for completing and returning a ballot. We can advocate for increased voter access by lobbying our legislators through organizations such as The Bus Project and Oregon Student Association.
As folks from historically oppressed and marginalized communities face attacks from a Trump presidency, we must commit to creating safer communities. Trump has promised to begin deporting 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants as soon as he takes office. Thankfully, Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler has taken a step in the right direction by declaring Portland a sanctuary city that will not cooperate with efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. As a community, we should pressure city officials to support this declaration with written policy and pass a resolution to adopt the sanctuary city status. We can use this as precedent to pressure our neighboring cities to do the same. Why shouldn’t Beaverton, Hillsboro and Gresham also be sanctuary cities for immigrants who are part of Oregon’s fabric and have made immeasurable contributions to our communities?
In order to create safer communities, I also call upon all of us to make the commitment to act against racist, sexist, Islamophobic and xenophobic actions. We cannot accept intolerance amid a presidency based on hate and fear-mongering. Put up your Black Lives Matter and I Love My Muslim Neighbor signs – but don’t just do that. If you see somebody being threatened or assaulted for being black, Muslim, Latinx, an immigrant – say something. If you hold privileged identities and are committed to justice, equity, tolerance, and acceptance, make sure to do the work within your own community and help folks understand why Trump and his administration’s rhetoric and policies need to be stopped.
The political era we are entering may be dark, but it is not hopeless. Movements can thrive in opposition. If the sins of the Trump administration galvanize communities like ours, the next four years can be an opportunity for progressives to win elections and set policy up and down the ballot and across the country, just as Democrats did in 2006-08, and Republicans did in 2010. But that only happens if we all step up: You and me and everyone we know. I’ll see you in the streets – and then in the meetings – and then in City Hall and the state Legislature. And then on voters’ doorsteps, and at the victory parties when we take power back. But first, get out there. We can’t wait to see you.
Daisy Quiñonez is a Chicana, daughter of immigrants, and lifelong Portlander. She is also the program organizer with The Bus Project, organizing young people around the state with a focus on voting access and youth empowerment.