There is an event planned for this evening, across 9 major cities, to scream into the sky helplessly ‘WHY!?!’ to commemorate the anniversary of Donald Trump upsetting politics (and sanity) winning the presidential election a year ago today.
The concept is ridiculously silly and funny, and might be a fun thing to do over cocktails bitching about Trump’s latest tweets. Yelling ‘why’ is cathartic, like reading Shattered or the damning excerpt of Donna Brazile’s new book in Politico. Sometimes it’s good to take stock and figure out what went wrong.
But if yesterday’s election in Virginia told us anything, it’s that it’s time for Progressives to ask a new question: Why not? As in, “Why not run?”
Many women (and men) choose not to run for election because they think they lack the typical qualifications: years in politics, a law degree, a spotless background. Donald Trump, bless his heart, proved that none of that really mattered. What mattered was connecting with your base and getting them to show up on election day, the one day that matters most. In terms of competence, Trump has set the bar so low that many novices now have the confidence to say, “Well, I might not know the elected job yet, but I know I’ll do a better job than him!”
A more likely scenario though is that women who are incredibly smart, capable and qualified have become motivated to get in the game. They have been affected viscerally by Trump’s sexism, racism, xenophobia and bad policies and no longer feel that they can remain on the sidelines. They answered the call: You marched; now run.
Since January there has been a surge of women signing up to campaign for positions big and small and the new feminist activism has been record breaking. Last night in Virginia 15 seats flipped from Republican to Democrat, and 11 of those were by women.
The transgender community also asked, “Why not?” and made history. Danica Roem became the first transgender woman to win a House of Delegates seat in Virginia. What made that even sweeter was that she defeated Del. Bob Marshall, the Republican incumbent who refers to himself as the state’s, “chief homophobe” and has consistently promoted anti-LGBT legislation, including a bathroom bill.
Trans woman Andrea Jenkins was the first transgender person elected to a major city’s governing body (Minneapolis) and the first trans person of color elected any office in the U.S. Charlotte elected its first female African-American mayor, Sheila Oliver became the first woman of color elected lieutenant governor of New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla became the first Sikh mayor in Hoboken history, and in Georgia’s House of Representative two seats that were so Republican they went uncontested in 2016 just flipped to Dems, because Why not?
Here at home, March On! Texas was following 15 local races across the state and guess what? Progressives won 10 of them!
It was the kind of progress for women, minorities of all stripes and progressive ideals we hoped and allowed ourselves to dream would happen last year. Last year that dream was shattered. Last year we screamed at the sky helplessly, ‘Why!?!’
Today we ask ourselves a better question. Why not? The answer is worth shouting for joy.
March on, ya’ll