By: Jasmine Cochran
When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. Once a week, my mom drove me to the other side of town to train under the direction of a lovely Southern belle, who taught me the basics of the instrument and was beginning to teach me the classics, before I abandoned the honing of this talent for Olympic dreams (unfulfilled) of gold medals in basketball and track.
Every week, I walked through her front door, made an immediate left into the piano room, and placed my bag of theory and scales books beside the bench. Each week, her cat roamed from room to room, and her son entered the front door midway through each lesson. A metronome, comprised of wood and gold, sat in front of our faces atop the piano, midway between her right shoulder and my left. Each time I prepared to practice a recital piece, she’d set the pendulum, start it, and signal me to begin. It was a lovely piece of machinery, and I wanted one for myself, but that request was never fulfilled. To me, it was no excuse. I had to practice to be recital ready, metronome or not, so I focused that much more in my own practice so that when I got back to her house, the strokes of my notes would align with the little machine’s ticks.
They swing back and forth, much like the political power between Democrats and Republicans. Sometimes, the swing takes place every four years, other times, every eight, but things never seem to stay the same for too long, and I’ve heard more times than I can count that we shouldn’t want them to. However, I often wonder if we can ever truly build and make progress this way.
In 2008, America witnessed the election of its first Black president, a moment that part of the population thought would never come to pass, and others hoped never would. That moment marked a few massive shifts:
The Democratic party would once again occupy the White House,
An unprecedented number of women and minorities would be appointed prestigious positions by our leader, and
The marginalized felt like they had a powerful voice at the mountaintop and would finally, finally be heard.
But alas, as of November 2016, the pendulum has swung violently in the opposite direction, and today, an unqualified bully holds the highest office in the land, a far cry from the dignified leader who just locked the door on his stay in the White House. People are confused, scared, and full of questions, one of the most common being, “How did we get here?” There are a hundred answers, but the most elementary explanation I can offer is:
Enough Republicans “got tired” of Democrats, just like the Democrats were tired of the Republicans by the end of George W. Bush’s term, and they were willing to come out in droves and support their candidate, no matter who it was.
The Democratic National Convention behaved dishonestly during the nomination process, and, divided against itself, fell.
The Electoral College, in all its uselessness, is still around.
Nostalgia and rose-colored glasses won out, with millions, including white supremacists groups, rallying around the promise to “Make American Great Again,” and now, here we are.
So what now? Well, with the pendulum on this side:
A pseudo-Republican now sleeps in the White House,
An unprecedented number of unqualified candidates are being nominated for and appointed to prestigious positions by our leader, and
A demographic of citizens who’ve felt marginalized for the past eight years have a voice—a loud, belligerent, insensitive, uninformed voice.
We are in quite the predicament, indeed, stuck between a rock and a hard place. If Donald Trump is impeached, that leaves us with Mike Pence, and can we really call that a victory?
Since his inauguration, America’s new leader has made decision after decision that’s led to the frustration of millions, and people have started to rise up. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and it reminds me of my lack of a pendulum; if you don’t have a timekeeper, you just have to keep your own time. The political odds may not be in our favor, but the “recital” is coming either way, and we must be ready. This is what we need to do.
READ. Read more than social media posts and blogs. Watch the news from all angles. Get to the root of the information by reading actual legislation on government sites and beyond. If that stuff is difficult to understand (and it is, which is one reason why people refuse to read it), pull out a dictionary to help decode the legalese, or reach out to your lawyer friend, and get to work. Ignorance is not an excuse.
SHOW UP. Make calls. Protest. Go to churches where pastors are addressing these things. Do what makes the government move. Vote. Attend city meetings. And the most powerful action step you can take? Run for local office.
TALK. Have actual face-to-face conversations with real people. Talk to people who agree with you, for support. Talk to people who disagree with you, for perspective. You never know whom you’re affecting. Stay patient. Personally, over the past few years, this has been the game changer for me. I can’t count the number of people who have had a heart change because I’d built a relationship with them, they trusted me, and they decided they couldn’t sit on the fence of the issues anymore, or they decided to jump the fence and fight for truth.
We have allies of all kinds. It’s up to all of us to keep fighting until there’s liberty and justice for all. We will march and fight until the pendulum rests at a place that’s best for all of us, and America decides, once and for all, to ring with the harmony of liberty. Peace and blessings.