On November 9, 2016, the day Donald Trump was declared President-Elect of the United States, I marched in my first protest. I took an Uber to downtown Los Angeles with my girlfriend and her friend, directing the driver to where we thought it would be. To ease our anxiety, we joked if there would be food trucks and a sign-in station. Peering out the windows, we weren’t quite sure where to go. Then, quite suddenly, a mass of people, hundreds strong, rounded the corner and swept down the street towards us. From curb to curb were protestors, marching between cars and chanting. As they passed they peered into our windows, shouting and smiling. We sat there for a few seconds and sized up the situation.

No one insulted us. No bricks were thrown through the windshield. This was a safe place, despite the chaos and mutual frustration.

“Well, I guess we’re here.”

So we stepped out of the Uber, thanked the driver, and were pulled into the current of dissent…

The following Saturday I joined another protest, the largest Los Angeles had seen yet, approximately eight to ten thousand people in the streets. Where Wednesday night had featured mostly young people, this morning had families, people young and old, of all demographics, ethnicities, and lifestyles. We paid open respect to the police. I witnessed no vandalism. Everyone radiated peace and love. My favorite chant; “This is what democracy looks like!”

Trump Protest 11/12/16 – Screenshot of David Baca Video

I have heard the “get over it” rhetoric calling protestors whiny and entitled. I know that it may seem futile since, yes, Donald Trump was legally elected to the Presidency by electoral vote (I still don’t like writing it, not sure if I ever will). So what does protesting do? Why protest? What is someone like me—who has a full time job and the trappings of adulthood, theoretically with something to lose—doing in the streets with a bunch of “sore losers”?

I take to the streets today because on August 21, 2015, I watched a Trump rally in Alabama broadcast on CNN. I was astonished that a man could stand before a throng of people and spout such hateful speech. What is more, I could not believe that a candidate for the Presidency would not only spew xenophobic fear mongering, but that it could be met with cheers! Here was a stadium full of people with throats full of anger, ready to blame their problems on the other. I waited for his policy proposals, an inspiring message of aspiration, any coherent thought that showed me vision—but all I found was vitriol.

Since then Donald Trump has not changed his tactic or dialogue. He has maneuvered between the poles of Hero and Victim, Martyr and Savior. And the entire nuance in between has been trampled underneath the boot of his divisive rhetoric. In Donald Trump’s world, someone is always winning and someone is always losing. It is clear that I am expected to act like a loser now. To suck it up. To stop being a pussy. To take it on the chin.

I got fired.

But the “beautiful thing” about democracy is that it does not stop or start every four years. It’s on going and alive. It’s a mass of people, like the crowd that rounded the bend and swallowed up our Uber. For me, it took Donald Trump becoming President-Elect to shake me out of my straight white man complacency and realize that there is plenty of work to be done. That there is more opposition to progress and equality than I had anticipated. That I am not allowed to sit on the sidelines any further.

So for now I march. And today I look for opportunities to build a better future.

For those of you dismissing the Trump protestors: be wary, for their energy has to go somewhere eventually. When those signs are put down and the chants are quieted, they will be replaced with progressive legislation and eloquent alliances.

As we, the losers, organize and find our cause, I think my favorite chant will suffice:

This is what democracy looks like!

This is what democracy looks like!

This is what democracy looks like!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *