As a young kid, I went voting with my parents and believed in the democratic process. When I was in high school, I started the Young Democrats club with a few of my fellow students. I campaigned for Clinton/Gore in 1996. I couldn’t vote, but I wanted to help elect Bill Clinton.
While in college, I participated and campaigned for Gore in 2000. I remember meeting Susan Day and others and feeling empowered to make a difference. On election night, I went to bed thinking that we had a chance. The next morning, I woke up to what happened in Florida with the hanging chads. I joked with my brother that it was his fault because he moved to Jacksonville for residency.
The Supreme Court decided the election and Bush won even though Gore won the popular vote. I wasn’t happy with how it happened, but I accepted it. Less than a year later, our lives changed because of 9/11. Congress decided to quickly pass the Patriot Act because they wanted to “protect” America. I totally understood the need to protect the those that live in America (both citizens and those who are living here other ways). However, we later learned that many Members of Congress didn’t fully read the act and said yes.
Life for my community was tough. People attacked Muslims and others who appeared to be Muslim. Students who lived in America and were here on student visas had to tough decisions to make. Do they stay or go?
Congress united together for awhile to pass some laws and many members rallied to support the Muslim community to let us know that extremists did the unthinkable, not Islam. There was and still is a small, vocal minority who truly believe that Islam teaches violence and we should all go back to where we came from.
Many of my friends and family reached out to support my family and others. It took some time, but it slowly started to get better.
In 2004, I decided to go back and get my master’s degree in public administration. I was cynical about politics and going through the program only solidified that feeling. In one of my classes about policy, my professor discussed how hard it was to change policy once it’s written. With any law or policy, there’s always unintended consequences.
On top of that, many Members of Congress are making laws that impact education, military and healthcare, and there are some who are making these laws without the expertise to create them. However, it’s up to us and those who specialize in those fields to influence government.
Here are a few reasons why I’ve always been cynical about government:
a.) the amount of money involved with lobbying and trying to influence legislation
b.) the amount of money coming from donors to support specific candidates
c.) the amount of money you need to run for office knocks out a large portion of the population.
d.) gerrymandering of districts so it’s hard to vote people out once they get in.
Fast forward to last year’s election run. As I watched both parties primaries, I started to see that Trump was running the table. I wondered why people supported him. I understand that he’s a businessman and he was speaking his mind. What scared me the most was that he was making fun of different races, those with disabilities, and comments around women. He made those who are racists feel legitimized and encouraged it. I had a feeling six months before the election that he was going to win. My friends and family didn’t think it was going to happen, but I had a feeling.
On election night, I started to watch the returns. Virginia took a long time to go to Hillary, and I knew that we were in trouble. I started to watch Trump’s lead increase. I couldn’t believe it. I was scared because I knew that if he won, he wanted to ban Muslims. He always indicated it would be for those trying to enter the country, but I had a sick feeling. I went to bed around midnight knowing that my life and this country wouldn’t be the same.
After 9/11 I never felt truly worried or scared, but on November 10, I felt scared. I was in Boston a few days later, and everyone I met said they are with us (Muslims). I felt better, but I still worried about what our soon-to-be President would do.
Last weekend I took part in the women’s march in DC. As Aisha and I made our way into DC, I saw the crowds. I saw the diversity. It was packed. It’s like Obama’s inauguration eight years ago. As we walked towards the march, there were thousands of people protesting the election. The main message from speakers and organizers was we needed to be active, speak out on things you disagree with, and get involved in the local election. There was so much energy. I was getting excited, but I kept thinking if people would be active for the next four years.
Well, the first week of President Trump was insane. The different executive orders he signed was fast and furious. He was like a horse at a race. He left the gates quickly and never looked back. He wanted to show people that he was going to make decisions quickly and stick to his campaign promises.
Leading up to his inauguration, I wasn’t happy with some of his selections, especially Bannon. He’s a known as a white supremacist. I knew this country was going to have an uphill battle.
Over the last few weeks, people have been calling their representatives and voicing their opinions about the different nominees Trump was putting forth. They have been protesting and making their voice heard. My heart is full.
On Thursday, I saw him put an executive order on stopping all refugees and any Muslims from seven different countries. When I looked at the list, none of them have to do with 9/11 or any other acts on this country. Those with visas and Greencards are impacted.
I really couldn’t believe my eyes. I am scared to travel internationally right now. I have never felt this way before. My co-workers, friends and family are telling me things will be okay. I truly hope so. Then, I saw posts and news articles about how Homeland Security and customs were stopping citizens, young kids who are 3 years old, and old people who have been in the US for 20 plus years.
I saw that one of my friends had an issue at the airport. He and his wife were coming back from their honeymoon. He’s an American citizen and so is his wife. I was livid. How can this country and those in homeland security detain someone with a blue passport without a valid reason?
Those detained asked for a lawyer and some of the airports were refusing them access to get counsel. As I continued to freak out, I started to see thousands of people at JFK, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and other cities rallying against the executive order. Thousands of people are coming out to support the rights of all people. I’m truly floored.
When I left Killer ESP today, I saw about 40 people protesting outside Bannon’s place. I smiled and gave them a thumbs up! People driving by were honking their horns. They were protesting the refugee order. I walked away smiling. My cynicism about government is slowly getting better.
Although I’m truly sad that Trump won, I have to say that his election has spurred people to act and protest things they believe in. I LOVE this so much. It has lit a fire in me to be more politically active. I’ve gotten messages from friends saying they are behind me and how can they help. They want to support Muslims and fight Trump. What he’s doing is anti-American.
This country was founded because of immigrants. Our founding fathers fought for us to have a separation of church and state, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and other rights.
Along with the executive order on refugees and Muslims from certain countries, the other actions he has taken from trying to stop certain agencies from sharing research and information to a hiring freeze with the federal government. He’s writing these orders without consulting people from different agencies to see if it’s legal, ethical, reasonable and practical. He moving swiftly without caring about the unintended consequences.
People are noticing and not standing for it. Members of Congress: For those that are not standing up to Trump right now, you better change your mind quickly. People are angry, they are paying attention, and will vote in two years. Your seat isn’t safe.
Wait, we have Gerrymandering, so it will be hard. Wait. There’s voter intimidation and laws make it hard for some to vote. Although there are many obstacles, I truly believe people will continue to be active, show their spirit and vote.
To House Speaker Congressman Ryan, you have closed the comment line for your constituents and others to contact you. That isn’t right. You are hiding from the people who elected you. There are others who are trying to hide and figure out what to do a Trump presidency. People are watching and paying attention.
Will you and others put your party politics aside and fight for people’s first amendment rights? Will you stop the President from making horrible decisions that aren’t lawful? The ban on foreign Muslims is going to make the threat from ISIS worst, not better. You are giving them what they want. Think about this: why would refugees, who spend tons of money and two years to be vetted, be a threat to this country? They are trying to escape death and tyranny.
What about making sure President Trump releases his taxes? We want to see if he has any conflicts of interests. My question to you is: If he has nothing to hide, why would he not share them? He’s hiding something and doesn’t want us to know.
For those of you who are protesting, keep it up! I will protest when I can and call my members of congress, so they know how I feel. The hardest part for all of us is keeping this up for the next few years. We need to be ready to fight and make changes in two years with the House and Senate. We need people who will stand up for all of our rights.