Dissent is Patriotic

Dissidents. I’m guessing I became one today.  The wheels, at least, are in motion. I haven’t changed, but the country has changed around me. Apparently, it’s now considered acceptable for the president to mock the disabled; or spy on non-Christian citizens; or ignore the constitution; or threaten to jail those who oppose him.

Today, I woke up to an expected shock. Donald Trump is our president-elect. A week ago, I realized that this was the likely outcome of the election. How many people were planned on voting for Trump, but were embarrassed to admit it? Seemingly, a lot. I wouldn’t admit it, but I wouldn’t vote for him, either.

Still, I feel betrayed by America. I feel like a guy who woke up today and learned from his wife that she never loved him. Or like I got a call from the hospital telling me that my baby was switched at birth… 15 years ago. Or like I walked into work to hear that I sucked at my job.

I honestly believed our citizens cared about each other and not just themselves. I believed that we saw beyond skin color and religious preference. I believed that a person would be weighed on their individual merits, and not the actions of someone who looks like them. Based on our selection of leaders, I no longer believe this.

I have a bumper-sticker on my truck that says “Dissent is Patriotic.” Our country was forged by dissidents. Many (most?) important changes came from the actions of those who were willing to say the status quo is whacked. Suffrage, civil rights, war protests.

Now we have a president elect who has spoken about a litmus test for Americanism. Do your beliefs match those of our establishment? If not, hit the road. Everyone is pissed off at athletes with the gall to kneel during the National Anthem. Love it or leave it, they say.

People are offended when they’re told that #blacklivesmatter. All lives matter, they say. Of course all lives matter, but all of us aren’t getting shot during routine interactions with police.

For the past year, I have sat, somewhat quietly, while people monger fear. Illegal Mexicans are stealing our jobs! The government wants to take away your guns! Hillary Clinton kills her employees! The Muslims want us dead!

Now we’ve got Donald Trump. He’s exactly what we deserve. He’s not going to bring back middle-class jobs by jump-starting the manufacturing sector. He’s not going to bring back the single-earner families of the fifties—he’s the only one with that luxury. He’s going to start World War III with a late-night tweet about one of his world-leader peers. He’s going to fuel a revolution by pushing laws that oppress citizens who don’t think like him.

Yes, dissent is patriotic, but dissidents are rarely treated as patriots. These days, if you aren’t down with authority, you’re on the run.

13 thoughts on “Dissent is Patriotic

  1. Thank you for voicing the thoughts in my own head. I rather naively thought the Jiminy Cricket in people would prevail. In 2016, how could we possibly choose a misogynistic, xenophobic, fear mongering, ego maniac as our leader? My candidate has lost before. That’s not a new feeling. This overwhelming wave of sadness and utter defeat is new. Like you said, “I feel betrayed by America. I feel like a guy who woke up today and learned from his wife that she never loved him.” I am seriously alarmed at how short sighted and willfully ignorant our people chose to be. I am even more alarmed that the executive branch and both houses of our legislative branch are held by a conservative party that often, in rhetoric at least, ignores the separation of church and state written into the very constitution they so vehemently claim we trod upon. This cycle will swear in at LEAST one new Supreme Court Justice and as a woman I am very scared the rights that were so fought for by my predecessors will be taken from me a little at a time. I can only hope that Ruth Bader Ginsberg holds on for at least 4 more years.

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  2. We’ve been living in West Virginia for 15 years now. At 7:10 CBS news projected Donald Trump the winner with 0% of the precincts reporting. SIgh. Tough for a liberal kid from Montgomery County to deal sometimes… All day Tuesday, I had butterflies in my stomach. I think I knew it was coming as well. I’ve seen the deep seated racism which has slowly been coming to the surface since Obama was elected. As a nation, we were not ready for a black president, regardless of how much pride we took in it. Trump, as ignorant as he is about many things, astutely harnessed that racism, and fear, and hate.

    Although I was not shocked, I was devastated as well. Years ago, in my 20’s, I was mugged in downtown DC. Physically attacked and injured (though not seriously) by a total stranger. I had nothing but a book bag (which I would not give up). I lost nothing and lost much. I went home and cried that night. I had never before witnessed first hand a complete lack of empathy in any human being and it was a realization I’ll never forget. It was a shock to the idealism of my youth and I’ll never forget the way I felt that night. I lost part of that idealism and it hurt. I say this because that’s the exact same feeling I had Wednesday morning. As a nation we’ve lost something. But, as I picked myself up the following morning, a bit more jaded, but also a bit wiser about humanity, my hope is that as a nation we pick ourselves up and move on to better ourselves with a clearer understanding of the real world we live in.

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  3. This was really wonderful to read. When people were so upset about the football player kneeling during the national anthem I was very shocked because they said he had to stand during the national anthem and salute the flag because the United States is built on great values like freedom of speech. The irony was so outstanding.

    Donald Trump is the logical president who represents the ” angry white guy who wants the 1950s to return” – I think he’s the last hurrah. I think because of him having so little knowledge about politics people will have to start looking at the Constitution again. There will be a lot more protest in this country – and a lot more backlash like we have seen with prison sentences. And one way I feel like it’s good he is president because it is so extreme now people will have to do something. With Hillary we could have still pretended. She’s not so different from Trump really. She just hides it better. He is blatant. He is the voice of the disenfranchised people with a lot of invisible power but don’t know it. With Bernie Sanders doing so well at one point obviously the nation is not divided but actually splintered. When oppression gets more blatant people organize a lot more. I’m actually hopeful . I’m never sure if occupy did anything at all and now that the 1% of the 1% is president, my opinion of it is lower. However if people really wanted to change things like I keep hearing although I don’t see it anywhere , maybe during the next four years people will be putting into action everything they complain about finally.

    Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom. Maybe this is rock-bottom. That’s my optimistic realism 🙂

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      • Chronic illnesses that seemed impossible to live with actually made a lot of positive changes in my life over 10 years so I like to think that I don’t know what is really a bad event. Like there are a lot of great people I never would have met if I didn’t have a chronic illness. And there’s a lot of activism I wouldn’t have done that needed to be done if I didn’t have that chronic illness.

        Rock-bottom Sometimes turns out to be the apex. I am hoping that whatever happens in the long-term will be productive for the United States. Hillary might have just propped it up a little bit longer but obviously there needs to be a massive overhaul .

        The only reason I voted was to keep abortion legal so I’m not thrilled about that possibly being taken away. But this is an unusual one, it’s not about that political parties as much as a statement of where Americans are right now. It’s definitely got a crossroads feeling. When you have someone so extreme in power there is a backlash. So I’m already curious about the next election! Chronic illness somehow has taught me to look at long-term and also that things are not always what they seem.

        Of course I still imagine that he will sell the United States to China and then declare he got rid of the national debt.


  4. I’m hoping this is a wake-up call for both political parties and that we will emerge stronger in the long run, if he can be reigned in sufficiently to limit the damage. And who knows, perhaps he will surprise us in a positive way – which wouldn’t take all that much right now.

    And it could be worse. In Honduras, for example, environmentalists are being systematically intimidated and murdered. Perhaps we take our freedom to peacefully dissent too much for granted. That may change, too.


    • This essay was written immediately after I woke up after the election. I’m glad I captured my feelings that day, but almost a month later, I’m much less fearful of the future than I was that day. You point about dissent is probably on target. I have no doubt that Mr Trump will propose (more) laws restricting citizens’ right to protest. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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