I'm a news junkie, but on a recent trip abroad, I nervously pulled up the headlines, preparing for a new assault by Trump or one of his sycophants or followers. He creates nonstop chaos and cruelty and has been very effective at moving from one hideous act or idea to another, encouraging or signaling to the worst impulses in our country, making it challenging to maintain focus on the latest tragedy instead of the next one demanding our attention. I felt the need to resist the temptation to curl up into a ball on the floor in the face of the latest outrage.
Like many Americans who weren't brought by force, my grandmother came here as part of familial, or chain migration. She was one of 11 children in her family in Transylvania and it was those who left and were allowed into other countries who survived the Holocaust.
As I traveled through beautiful southern Spain last week, I couldn't ignore the ugly fact of the absence of Jews in former Jewish neighborhoods, emptied after King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled, killed or forced conversion of all of the Jews and Moors in 1492.
The historical conspiracy theories about Jews that have inspired ongoing violence through history are rife throughout the dark corners of the Internet and have emerged in Republican circles this year, demonizing individuals and putting proverbial targets on their backs. George Soros has become a scapegoat for the right, demonized as the current globalist, conspiratorial, all powerful Jew of the anti-Semitic imagination. Targeting minority or marginalized groups works for strongmen like Trump, but only to a certain extent in our democracy. The majority of Americans reject the characterization of refugees and immigrants as invasive hordes, of black people as criminals, of the media as the enemy, of women as objects of contempt and derision, of transgender people as nonexistent, of science as irrelevant. They also reject bullying, slamming journalists on the ground, white supremacists, and demonization of black athletes, to name just a few of Trump's ongoing dog whistles to bigotry and violence.
The only way we can resist being outmaneuvered is to show our strength and unity. The Muslim community in Pittsburgh has raised enough to cover funeral expenses for the eleven victims of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre. We won't be divided.
The energy from youth, women, people of color, progressives and new faces throughout the country gives me hope. As a lesbian Jewish mother of a 23 year-old young woman who will inherit the future, and a lifetime progressive activist, I can't sit back and watch this country slide further toward a dystopian nightmare.
Please consider this a plea to remain active, vigilant, clear, energetic, and to vote today and beyond. We can block the Trump agenda if we, as lovers of democratic values, regardless of party or ideology, take back the Senate and House of Representatives and elect local and state officials who are accountable to all the people in our communities. We can't sit this one out!
As soon as this election is over, we must turn our attention to 2020. Ongoing efforts to disenfranchise voters and the need to address the long term remaking of electoral districts by gerrymandering, is the next order of business. Here again, we can't continue to be outmaneuvered. The Republican playbook has resulted in 31 red legislatures and 25 states with both Republican governors and control of their legislative bodies.
We need our own longterm strategy and playbook to empower local communities to believe they can make a difference in their own lives.
For the LGBTQ community, federal efforts and legal remedies must be supplemented by state strategies, now more than ever. While the Trump administration has rescinded the gains made during the Obama administration, and the remaking of the Supreme Court is underway, we still have 44 LGBTQ organizations in states working with broad coalitions to get out the vote and build local power so that elections and issues reflect the will of the people. The key is vigilance, since rights, both new and settled, are under constant challenge, from marriage equality to voting to citizenship.
We will look back on this time in wonder that America elected someone so ill-equipped and destructive as President. But we will take heed from our own experience of electing a demagogue and never again say that it can't happen here.
REBECCA ISAACS is the executive director of Equality Federation, the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advocating for LGBTQ people.