2016 election Donald Trump

The State of Our Union

Sunday, November 13, 2016 Jen Lezan

I've had the last 3 days to mull over this 2016 election. I never knew that the election would impact me the way it did. I also didn't realize how naive I have been about the state of our country and the reality about the thoughts and opinions of many of the people within it. I released an article this past week from one of our newer writers: Michael Rubin as I felt that it was a wonderful objective view about what happened and because I knew it would be a fair balance to the op/ed I would be releasing today. I often look to bring a neutral view of things to my writing and creative expressions. Yet, I can't find neutral ground here. I can't say that I have not been deeply effected by the outcome of this weeks past election.

Photography by Perry Elise Fish - Alluringchicago.com

I am someone who falls in line with spiritual views of peace and yet I understand the nature of our world requires balance. In order for there to be light, there must be darkness. There is good and bad in the world and I have come to accept that. I often work to try and showcase the beauty in the chaos and highlight the hope in the moments of darkness. This week was a dark week for me. I saw a divided country. I read hateful words on social media. I witnessed terrible things through reporting on the news. I saw a man elected to be put into power that stood against everything that I believed we as a country have worked towards for the last 50+ years. And it hurt my soul. I read that people I knew and loved, some I respected voted for a man who has spewed shameful words against women, Muslims, Mexicans and other disenfranchised groups.  All in the name of getting votes and I can't help but feel a knife through my heart knowing that despite these things, they still chose to vote for a party without considering the man elected to represent that party, targeted and spewed hateful words at groups I was a part of. I can't help, but feel personally attacked. It is NOT politics as usual. This is the man who is the ultimate role model for our nation, for our people and most importantly for our children. 

I cried this week. I cried bitter tears, through painful breaths because I realized that the world I believed so much to be a world moving forward, hasn't moved forward enough. I cried because my daughter cried when I told her the results of the election the next morning. She looked at me confused with worry in her eyes, questioning how a man who acted so mean could be the one selected to run our country. I was at a loss for words. I will admit, I wasn't one to fully support Hillary Clinton and I was admittedly naive in thinking that no one in their right mind within our political system would allow Mr. Trump to win this race due to his lack of experience and his often divisive messages. I wholeheartedly was a Bernie Sanders supporter. I believed in his message of change and unity, a message that I think both urban and rural dwellers were looking for and even though it wasn't Bernie, I still voted. Yet, it seems Mrs. Clinton didn't offer that message of change in the eyes of many citizens this year. In the eyes of a majority of rural dwellers, it was Mr. Trump who promised them the change they were seeking. This article is an eye opening look at many of the reasons why people voted for Trump. 

Yet, I'm still finding it hard to put aside the things Mr. Trump has done, the things he says and what he stands for. I am not the only one. In the 3+ days since the election results have been shared, anti-Trump protests have sparked nationwide. Thousands of people all over the nation have banded together to protest the surprise results of this week's election. I read constantly, this week, in comments and online, that these people are "whiners" - that these people are "sore losers" - that these people can't handle that their candidate didn't win and need to shut up and go home. I have also read that so many people are inspired and proud of the groups who are utilizing their First Amendment Right to protest. 

There were demonstrations all across the nation, including Chicago and Los Angeles, where several thousand protesters gathered beneath MacArthur Park's palm trees holding placards including "Dump Trump" and "Minorities Matter," before marching toward downtown. These demonstrators are fighting for an America that is inclusive - for an America that believes Women's Rights and Gay's Rights are HUMAN rights - for an America that believes in separating Church and State, an America that DENOUNCES racism, an America that is the land of opportunity for all, NOT just the privileged. These men and women are protesting the fact that Mr. Trump won an election based on a platform of hate and misinformation. That he won an election with NO experience for the incredibly demanding and difficult job he must now take on. That he ran a campaign that was filled with ego and barely took the time to inform himself on the issues he was debating on. That it seems this ill-equipped man is looking more and more like a puppet for the already corrupt governing parties within our capitol. He won an election based on false promises that he is already failing to keep and the transfer of power has yet to even happen. He was touted as the "anti-establishment" candidate and yet, his administration is already brimming to the top with Washington and Wall Street insiders and Corporate Lobbyists. He's touted as a "man of the people" and yet many don't understand why I don't believe that a billionaire can understand the plight of the working class. That this billionaire doesn't have my best interests in mind.

The demonstrators wanted to let people know that rhetoric-fueled violence against people of color, immigrants and LGBT people won't stand. They are working to make a statement of political instability to render it difficult to govern, and in particular, to make it impossible for Trump to implement his policies in the first 100 days. These policies that don't keep in mind the very people that elected Mr. Trump. For example - according to NPR's Fact Check, "Trump’s tax plan would cut income tax rates while capping deductions for the wealthy. He would also reduce the business tax rate to 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax. Workers at every income level would enjoy lower taxes under Trump’s plan, but the biggest beneficiaries by far are the very wealthy. Estimates from the Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation estimate that the top 1 percent of income households would see their after-tax incomes rise by 10.2 to 13 percent under Trump’s plan, while “middle income” households -- those from the 40th to the 60th percentile -- would see an increase of 1.3 to 1.8 percent. Tax savings at all levels could be higher from economic growth, but the wealthy still see the biggest bump." Thanks Mr. Trump I appreciate you letting me keep the change. 

What we need is a revolution. What we need is a shakeup in government. What we need is to open our eyes as a nation and realize that while we are down here the in cities fighting one another over the fact that you voted Republican - while I voted Democratic, that corrupt people in Washington are taking our civil liberties and quietly bleeding us dry. While you argue about why someone at McDonald's shouldn't be making a $15/hour minimum wage, corrupt politicians on Capitol Hill bail out Wall Street mongers and Bankers who have taken advantage of the working class. While you argue about why Millennials are a lazy generation who don't believe in hard work - your tax dollars continue to be misused at both the state and federal levels.  While the media continues to the pit the haves against the have-nots, wealthy executives make bonuses while workers are laid off or continue to see stagnant wages despite working harder.

America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s. That is something that should be eye opening. As Bernie Sanders explained in his platform, "There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is something profoundly wrong when we have a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest childhood poverty rate of nearly any developed country on earth. The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class has rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people of this country." In my eyes, there is something wrong when that very billionaire mentality belongs to our current President Elect: Donald Trump. A man for the people? It doesn't seem so.

I believe now, of all times, is the moment to call for unity. These protests are bringing to light the very dismantled states of our union. Yet, I also believe that this moment in history was needed. It is a moment that opened the eyes of many.  The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. The wool of that world has been lifted. Now that you are awake - don't look back. Continue to forge forward, but please do so united. As each day passes that Mr. Trump is in office, I believe his true colors and the reality of this election will become ever more prominent. It seems that those looking to not help the working class, want us divided. Yet, we must come together. We all have a common ground. We want to see change, but the reality is that we must change ourselves first. We must then work together to create the changes we want to see in our communities and as our communities come together as one - fight to change the state of our union. I truly believe that goodness will prevail over corruption, greed and thirst for power. I've said it before and I will say it again,  united we stand - divided we fall. These demonstrations have shown me, how we can group together and fight for good. The majority of the demonstrations have been peaceful, despite the small factions of people who have taken advantage of heated moments. There was hope marching down Michigan Ave. this morning. That is proof that we all can truly come together and do something about injustice.

In the words of Maya Angelou, "You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise. You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise. 

Rise up, my brothers and sisters, let's lift one another and find common ground.

Jennifer M. Lezan-Veguilla
Editor in Chief & Founder

**Check back this week for a photo feature by Perry Elise Fish, showcasing a gallery of images from Saturday's protest in Chicago and interviews from some of the protesters**

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