Our wedding anniversary falls just after election day. Though we live in Ohio now, we go back when we can to spend it with close friends in Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod. There’s a particular feel to the Provincetown in November, with the tourist season ending, most of the shops closed, the wind freezing cold off the Atlantic, the sky overcast and the locals bunkering down for the winter.
I have a very vivid memory of how utterly desolate we felt last year (probably because we continued to feel that way until this morning). It was just an utter rout for our party, our values, our faith. We couldn’t even talk about the election – nor could we bring ourselves to talk about anything else. I remember seeing on the TV in the airport, on the way home, that Gwen Eiffel had died and it somehow seemed to seal the doom that had overtaken us.
We decided in the airport that we had to be politically active, though, having been lulled by the Obama years, we hardly remembered what that meant. So we began giving to organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Planned Parenthood. We signed up for Indivisible and all the online groups. We brought our kids to the Women’s March and to local protests and meetings. My wife has been great about demonstrating and badgering congresspeople. She helped drive Pat Tiberi out of office.
With my colleague Sarah Jonaus, I started Physician’s Action Network. The membership and the support has been amazing. We’re still finding our legs politically but we’ve learned a lot in the past year. We’re developing position papers, partnering with other groups (Progress Ohio has been a big supporter), pushing our professional organizations to take stands on the issues.
There’s one thing that’s become clear in the past year about the 2016 election. The country I love did not capitulate to a campaign of lies, fear and hate. Americans did not choose this president. The election was stolen. It was stolen in open sight. The Republicans have been working for decades on:
- Targeting minority and immigrant communities with voter suppression tactics
- Partisan gerrymandering to dilute Democratic votes
- Building a propaganda network of cable news, radio talk shows, web sites etc
- Savaging Hillary Clinton’s reputation in anticipation of her Presidential bid
I really think that those factors were key in swinging the race to Trump. We have a white working class that’s seen its economic opportunities erode and that’s afflicted by terrible health indicators and the opioid epidemic. Maybe those voters were primed for a message of anger and blame; but I doubt those sentiments would have produced an electoral victory if the system hadn’t been shamefully manipulated by the right in an attempt to gain power by subverting democracy.
Well, it looks like they may have distorted the democratic process, but they haven’t succeeded in eliminating it. I’m jubilant over the Democratic sweep in this year’s state elections. I feel like we know what we’re up against, and we have some tools to fight back. This year, in Provincetown, we’ll have something to celebrate. When we come home, we have a lot of work to do.