Impoverished Politics: The first 100 and going forward

Senior Virginia Johnson writes about the current state of politics in Impoverished Politics. Photo by Tobi Scott.
Senior Virginia Johnson writes about the current state of politics in Impoverished Politics. Photo by Tobi Scott.
In the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, the world has become a very different place. Not just here in the United States, but around the world. Rising right-wing populism from India to Turkey paired with the rising powers of executive office over other governmental branches suggests a scary trend of democracy receding in globally.

Beyond that, spikes in hate crime, Islamophobia, as well as a resurgence of Nazism, and white nationalism eerily mimics ideologies which circulated Europe in the 1930s. Instead of targeting Jewish communities, Muslims and immigrants are the victims of discrimination, both in social spheres and directly through policy.

Has Trump been normalized? After the administration’s Muslim Ban failed there seemed to be a lull in ridiculous policy until now again we are faced with senseless bombings, agitation of nations we’ve had dicey relationships with before and, of course, the best chocolate cake any of us have ever seen.

Of course, the mourning we felt right after the election was bound to go away and the fear felt by many was bound to become so commonplace it’s not thought about, but I no longer wake up in the morning and think in shock about a known assaulter and reality star being our president. I don’t know what to make of that.

As my graduation looms, I have a lot of anxiety about the world I am stepping into. I am worried that federal funding for my AmeriCorps position will be taken away leaving me unemployed. I am worried there could be a new wave of policy coming to hurt minority communities in my country. I’m worried that rising fascism and seemingly careless military actions will cause some kind of war.

I worry too about myself; if my dedication to social justice and activism will grow, stay the same, or even wane as I build a life and a career after college. I think back on the work I’ve attempted to do during my time as a student and I’m proud of my actions and convictions, but how will that change?

Going forward, with everything happening in the global political sphere, we cannot afford to become complacent. One hundred days of Trump may have already passed, but there are still three and a half years to deal with. There are still elections all over Europe in which nationalist and neonazi parties are gaining traction. This is a time of unease, and because of that vigilance is imperative.

I’ve said before that the one good thing that’s come out of these past couple of years is the mobilization of youth politically, and the left coming to the forefront of that. Here in East Tennessee, relatively large demonstrations have taken place in Knoxville for everything from women’s rights to action on climate change and bringing an end to the Dakota Access Pipeline development.

What has happened as a reaction to the election should not stop just because a Trump presidency has become some kind of norm. Our outrage is necessary because it is the only way to call for change.

On his 100th day in office, Trump said that he didn’t think being president would be this hard, and he wasn’t ready for this level of responsibility. I don’t think any of us were ready for Trump to be president either, fans and opponents alike.

I feel like most of the pieces I’ve written for the Echo in the last three years always end with a statement calling people to action. Now, more than ever, I am calling on all of us to fight this rising trend against freedom, liberty and justice not only here at home but across the world.

More than ever, I think I am pointing this call at myself and other soon-to-be graduates whom, in our transition into ‘the real world,’ may lose sight of our ideals about direct action and activism generally.

I cannot make any educated assumptions as to how the future will unfold, but I can say that we will never not need labor movements, activists, scholars, scientist and social workers. Moving on to the next chapter of my life, in this current climate, that fact has never been so poignant.

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