ON ELECTION EVE I finally got really excited about the first Democratic female president. Two days before that the adult choir at the UU church where my daughter sings did a decent version of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” and I think that kick-started my enthusiasm for the history that was to be made. When the clock struck midnight on November 9 none of it mattered. Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential election, and the man who had a decent chance against him, Bernie Sanders, never got it.
Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all,
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that’s our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!”
Gulp, as the cover says, is right. Trump’s inauguration is just over a month away but as inevitable as it seems, each day also brings a new level of dismay over the shape his administration is taking and what it means for people at home and abroad.
The truth is lots of folks are nervous and others are downright scared. Scared that white nationalists will further mainstream racism. Scared about losing health insurance. Scared of being deported. Scared of being put on a registry and discriminated against over religion. Scared that the right to an abortion will evaporate completely. Scared that any gains in addressing climate change will cease and reverse. Scared that the war machine will kick into higher gear. Scared that public education will be gutted. And scared that truth and evidence don’t matter anymore.
Fear is an evolutionary biological response that functions to protect us from threats. Humanists and other compassionate rationalists need to channel that fear into action, even when it seems like we’re spinning on a daily wheel of misfortune. I pass Comet Ping Pong to and from work and wonder what’s next. One day an elitist hatemonger is named White House chief strategist and the next a climate change denier is tapped to head the EPA. A non-educator and voucher proponent for education; for labor, a guy who prefers robot workers over humans (because robots “always upsell and never take a vacation”); and an ExxonMobil CEO for secretary of state. (Why is this starting to sound like “The Twelve Days of a Plutocratic Christmas”?) Rick Perry running the Department of Energy? Goodbye renewables; there’s a phony discount on fossil fuels!
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that climate scientists are engaged in “guerrilla archiving events” making copies of important public data related to climate change for fear it could disappear with the next administration. Reasonable people are taking drastic measures because this is truly uncharted territory. We at the Humanist appreciate all who contributed their thoughts, ideas, emotions, and clarion calls to this issue. The overriding message herein is: yes, there are dark days ahead but we can’t shut ourselves in bunkers with flashlights. We need to get angry and get out there. We need to translate our fear into righteous and loving action.
One of the many specific suggestions Cynthia Todd Quam offers in “Action List for the (Un)Faithful” is to make art, whether it be overtly political or not. It’s in this vein that I’m thrilled to introduce the Humanist’s new arts editor, Daniel Thomas Moran, a humanist and a poet who promises to infuse our pages with more artistic expression, and I think it’s just what we need.
There’s a song that’s been playing in my head of late and it isn’t “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and it sure isn’t “Hail to the Chief.” It goes a little like this:
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world…
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan…
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is, brother, you have to wait…
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head…
This isn’t the complete song—you know that. And of course there’s the refrain:
Don’t you know it’s gonna be
Don’t you know it’s gonna be-heeee
All right, all right, all right…
But is it going to be all right? What I see and hear from humanists is that we will be vigilant in holding our president to the ideals of our democracy. And as much as the new administration tries to turn us into a plutocracy, we will protest, we will resist, and we will fight. All right?