“I didn’t get to do this in the ’70s so I’m ready” — Megan, a 20something friend of a friend just after the election.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been a month, isn’t it?
One month ago today, I pulled my 16-year-old son out of school so he could watch me vote for the first woman president of the United States. I had a yummy roast in the crockpot, wine at the ready, laptop moved into the living room. I could hardly work for all the texting and CNN watching and history-making awesomeness. It was going to be the best day ever.
Until it was the worst day ever. The apocalypse, as a friend of mine calls it. We were pantsuit-loving lambs headed to slaughter.
One month later, I’m impatient with the wallowing. Yes, it’s awful. Yes, his appointments just keep bringing new fresh hell daily. Yes, HRC’s popular vote lead keeps increasing (at 2.7 million last I checked). Yes, we have a hair-width slice of the shadow of a glimmer of false hope as the recount takes place and a some of our Electoral College members bail on Trump.
Yes, the apocalypse.
Except for two things:
- We have gotten off our asses and are engaged like never before.
- We are having a serious and pervasive discussion about fake news.
And those might make Trump’s election worth it. (Ducking for cover as I write that.) Might, I said. Or, at least, are significant silver linings.
Let’s start with getting off our asses. I am 100% sure that if Clinton had been elected, most of us would be sitting back, fat and happy with our awesome history-making president. Maybe she would’ve inspired us to get a little more involved. But let’s face it, had our engagement really changed since she announced she was running? Had our engagement really changed during Obama’s eight years?
Things were laurel-resting good!
When the friend of a friend said she was ready for the fight (see quote above), it occurred to me I was, too. While I’m 20+ years her senior, I haven’t fought very hard for anything either. I was incredibly supportive of gay marriage and did what I could, sporting my artsy marriage equality necklace. But I haven’t taken to the streets — literally or figuratively — in a long time.
When my kids were young, my husband and I traveled to Austin to protest for sensible gun laws with the Million Mom March in Austin one time. And I returned to Austin several years ago to protest underfunding and over-testing in our public schools.
Like you, I have a list of progressive social issues I’m passionate about: gay rights, women’s rights, reasonable gun laws. But I took press and religious freedom for granted. I took women’s rights for granted. I assumed we were all headed for the right side of history in every possible way.
OK, so we SHOULD be able to do all of that.
But I didn’t know who my state legislator was until yesterday. I wish I exaggerated for effect. I was all about the big national (usually social) issues, but my political savvy crumbled the closer to home it got. And that is not acceptable. My state just passed a law that women who have abortions in a clinic or miscarriages in a hospital must pay for the fetal remains to be cremated or buried. Where was I when this shit was going down?
I was assuming, pre-apocalypse, that we were all headed for the right side of history.
Pantsuit Nation has almost 4 million members. I assume most of those members are finding their way to the state, regional, and local Pantsuit Nation offshoots like I am. And these groups and their members are organizing. We are a force today — a force that I truly believe would’ve faded back into our normal lives if Clinton were our president-elect.
Secondly, Oxford dictionary announced “post-truth” as the word of the year for 2016. We need that situation to be different in 2017.
And I am hopeful. #fakenews is a hastag — a thing … like not opening the door for the guy who says he’s here to check your cable when you didn’t have an appointment. That’s the kind of thing I want #fakenews to be. I’ve been pushing #makeamericacareaboutfactsagain and actually just found this image when I searched Twitter for it.
I’ve been sharing #makeamericacareaboutfactsagain with my Trump-supporting Dad for a while. Post-election, I started expanding its use to anyone who doesn’t check a source on Facebook — conservative or liberal. OccupyDemocrats, Breitbart … same same in my opinion right now.
Since it was reported that #fakenews was an issue in this election, everyone has joined on the bandwagon. Yay for critical thinking!
And with stories like this one from NPR, “Fake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts,” coming out daily, it’s easy to do. Here are two more to help your truth-finding journey: “How to tell which news is fake” and the CRAPP test.
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times hits it perfectly here: “Lies in the guise of news in the Trump era.” Let me tease out one fact from his post: Only 44% of Republicans understand that Obama was born in the United States. Oxford, I bow to your painful wisdom. Read the article. It explains that #fakenews is more than a conservative agenda; it’s now a money-making business.
As consumers, we can call out and not share #fakenews. But it’s going to take more. Facebook, Google, and Twitter started down the right path the week after the election. But it’s going to take even more. I love this from Jeff Jarvis: “A call for cooperation against fake news.” And this: “Stamping out fake news will take collaboration by platforms and publishers.” I agree. This is my industry. And I intend to hold it accountable. That #fakenews is a hashtag is, I hope, an indicator of good things to come.
So yes, the apocalypse. But with a bright side.
I wanted to toss my “I voted today” sticker from a month ago. But I didn’t. Instead, I have it right by my laptop on my desk. I see it every single day.
Because I’m with Megan. And #imwithher. I didn’t get to do this in the ’70s. I’m ready.
How about you?