This has been a tough morning.
Not just intellectually or politically—it feels like we all got the wind knocked out of us.
Is this really the America we live in? That the lines that divide can so handily outpace the ties that bind? That the old politics of racism, nativism, and sexism can still be such an effective electoral strategy? It feels like so many of our hard fought gains have just been swept away in one night.
So what gives us hope in a moment like this? What keep us in this fight for racial and economic justice?
First, that underneath the gut-wrenching national results, California has shown us how to move forward into a progressive future. We not only elected our first Black/South Asian female senator from this state. We also voted to fund school facilities and classrooms. We voted to fund our hospitals. We voted to get smarter about our criminal justice system. And we voted to honor and teach our kids the languages that make the collective voice of California so beautiful. And in Los Angeles, voters overwhelming supported a measure to take care of the neediest among us with a $1.2 billion investment to address the homelessness crisis.
Some will say, “Well, that’s California. You’ve always been a progressive island unto yourself.” But just 20 years ago, our state was wracked with the kind of hate-filled political discourse we saw in this national election, with elected officials like Pete Wilson and propositions like 187, 209, 21.
Secondly, these wins did not come from the usual types of political heavy-hitters. Instead, these wins were made possible by organized, people-driven power. It was a powerful alliance of community groups, including California Calls, ACCE CA, PICO CA, and Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, which (once again) made the difference in these contests by turning out voters of color and other low propensity voters.
And finally, what gives me inspiration—personally—is what I am fighting for.
This morning, we spoke to our kids about the election results and they were scared. Afterward, our 9-year-old got dressed and put on her “VOTA!” t-shirt from a local celebration of Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month. Through her simple action, I was reminded of the resiliency required for this fight and was encouraged to take the long view. She reminded me that the promise of America is not a given, but something we have to achieve. Something we have to fight for. And though there are ebbs and flows in this fight, we have to be down for the whole match and not just give up after a bad round.
This fight will be tough, and there is much to reconsider and reassess. More immediately, we need to effectively push back against the politics of division and hate with a strong showing of love and solidarity. We must reach out and support our Muslim, immigrant, and Black brothers and sisters. Wherever we can and however we can.
This moment calls on all of us to keep building. To keep building for the future, and to keep building that united front for racial and economic justice.
Sure we’ve been knocked down. We’ve been knocked down before. And if history is any indication, it’s in the getting back up where real progress is made. Advancement Project California stands with you.
Tags: Election 2016, Equity, Vota, Vote