2017 saw the first total solar eclipse on the continental United States in 38 years. The path of totality brought a darkness along a swath that moved people from across the country into its range to view and participate in this relatively rare celestial occurrence. For many, this totality of darkness is the literal embodiment of a political climate swept in nearly one year ago. The darkness brought to bear on marginalized communities in this country is methodically vacating every hard fought victory with regard to migrant and immigrant status, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, voting rights, environmental protections, internet neutrality, to name only a few.
In the face of this darkness, from day 20, folks have been standing up to represent and resist. On day 21, the Women’s March, taking place a day after inauguration, was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. And since day 21, people have taken to the streets, the meeting halls, city halls, social media platforms, art exhibits, and courtrooms, to walk the walk every single day in opposition to this presidency.
One aspect of this national resistance is the money funneled to organizations that have worked on behalf of human rights years and decades in the making. ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Planned Parenthood have seen record donations since the election. Most notably cited was the $24 million committed to ACLU in a weekend following the first iteration of President Trump’s ban on immigrants from Muslim majority countries.
2017 saw the ACLU move to the number one spot for charitable donations from American workers while Southern Poverty Law Center moved into the number nine spot. This is after the ACLU stood in the 87th position in 2015, sixth in 2016, while the Southern Poverty Law Center was 230th in 2015 and 17th in 2016. As this presidency, supported by undiscerning majorities in the legislative branch of the government has used its heft to dismantle laws and protections, stack judiciaries and establish a substantive ideological shift in governmental and corporate practices, we have sought the expertise and proficient focus of human rights organizations to challenge these actions more often than not within courts of law.
Experts leading the way within the legislative branch are minority senators and representatives standing up to policy shifts and unpacking the facts and implications for their constituencies. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been confronting the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment during much of her Senate tenure and Senator Kamala Harris was just named to the Senate Judiciary Committee, an appointment that will allow her more opportunities to articulate her stance against injustice and to “give a voice to the voiceless.”
Most vociferous and relentless in representing myriad voices in the last five years is Senator Elizabeth Warren. She has leveraged her legislative platform to call her colleagues on the carpet regarding their votes against the underrepresented or their silence in the face of injustice.
Without a majority, our representatives can command an audience, but it isn’t until the voters bring about the electoral shift signaled by Doug Jones’ defeat of Roy Moore that we will have the ability to turn resistance into policy. Despite the gerrymandering, the attack on Voters Rights and efforts on voter suppression, people stood up in Alabama. Black women stood up; Black women voted and they made the difference even while Jones lost in 6 of 7 congressional districts.
Resistance has and will continue to come in the form of policy makers and NGOs that undertake some of the legislative and legal work, but we also need folks in the street marching, calling their representatives, running for office, staking a claim, voting. Tactical approaches to battling this presidency have taken many forms since day 20 and will continue to evolve as each loss and win outlines the work that goes on. Unceasing efforts to address every policy shift, every human rights regression, every outrageous contention and tweet may inspire the 2018 midterm elections to produce the Reckoning that feels long overdue, even while it has been less than a year into this term.
We have seen marvelous, unstoppable opposition during this first year, and that singular focus will ensure this presidency is short lived, more rare than a total solar eclipse over this nation.