Our new fight has a martyr, and her name is Hillary Clinton. As we painfully watch our beloved champion lose, we are thrust into the seven stages of grief. This is a scientific theory suggesting experience of particular emotions when a person is faced with loss. The campaign that we donated to, volunteered for, passionately informed our Facebook friends about and sacrificed pleasant family dinners to make a point of, is dead. Now, we must acknowledge our numbing despair, take time to heal and harness this love for progressive politics into concrete action. We may have lost this race, but now it is our duty to use every ounce of power to prevent Donald Trump and his cronies from turning back the clock on our liberties.
However, on Tuesday night I was far from this fired up, social justice warrior, let’s-go-protest attitude. I was in the first stage of grief: shock and denial. It took the form of tapping out around 11 o’clock on election night, unable to bring myself to watch the nightmare unfolding before us. Wednesday morning, I woke up heartbroken. More deflated, depressed and disappointed than angry. Even though political activism is the crux of my personal identity, I felt so powerless and small that I wanted to quit studying government. This was stage two: pain and guilt. For some of us, it may also include regretting not going to that phone bank, canvassing event or protest. Next, comes the anger and bargaining phase. I saw this take form in hating Trump’s supporters and blaming those who voted for a third party. In our frustration, some of us scapegoated our fellow citizens in the similar fashion of white supremacists. We must remember that sympathizing with each other’s grief and supporting one another makes us stronger together. Our purpose now is not to antagonize Trump supporters, it’s to unite.
After frustration, you should expect
reflection, loneliness, and depression. Maybe this will hit us around the inauguration, when Trump designates cracking open our oceans for oil, or sets off a trade war by aggravating China. Immigration Customs Enforcement will start tearing families to pieces by ending visa programs, Trump’s new task force will stop and frisk young black Americans with racism instead of a warrant, and the Syrian refugees desperately knocking on America’s gates will be told to go back to homes that no longer stand. We have more pain ahead of us. But this suffering will be the power fueling our battles. The love for our families, friends and communities will bring us to an upward turn in the fifth stage. Here we will begin to find hope again. In the sixth stage of reconstruction, we will organize our communities. We will find which issue we want to dig our heels into, whether it’s justice for black lives, the right to practice your religion, your body being your choice or keeping your immigrant family intact. Let our new martyr inspire you to go to that first NAACP meeting or scream louder at that climate change protest. This woman dedicated the past 30 years of her life to fighting tooth and nail for our human rights. We owe it to Hillary Clinton to preserve her life’s work. This seventh stage will be acceptance and hope. A hope so fierce it awakens our country from this cesspool of bigotry.
I walked to class in a tear-stained fog Wednesday morning, but was jolted awake by Hillary’s words in her concession speech: “Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.” Take these few days to recuperate and acknowledge your grief. We will heal. We will organize. Through such agony and oppression will bloom a progressive outcry that Trump cannot ignore.
Somewhere, a girl is watching the news and plotting how to break this damn ceiling. Maybe she’s you.
Jerwick is a Plan II and government sophomore from Leawood, Kansas.