Clearly, our country is divided. We can feel it, hear it… hell, we can even see it in stark red and blue colors on the electoral college map. But the place that I sense the deepest divide is not racial in orientation. It isn’t geographical. And it isn’t rooted in sex or gender. It’s generational. And nowhere can that be seen more clearly than when we look at how America’s youngest voters exercised their right on Tuesday. Seeing that map turn blue was like placing an ice pack on my boiling blood. And then it all started. You know, the scene where the “apathetic” millennials started to feel something- perhaps more palpably and contagiously than we ever, as a generation, have felt before.
This pack I speak of- we come from everywhere and we are defined by nothing; not religion, sexual orientation, skin color or gender. And for a long time we have been unsure of what it means to be American. Our apathy toward voting, political activism, even a palpable lethargy of pride in our country, have been long-standing barriers that have stood between our ability to unite our global outlooks with our identity as Americans. “You can’t get upset when you don’t even show face to the Democratic Committee meetings, Katie,” was my mother’s first response when I ran to her, bawling, after hearing the election results. She had a point. I hadn’t done enough. We, as a generation, hadn’t done enough.
But we have arrived. It’s our time to show the world what America’s future truly looks like. It doesn’t have swastikas plastered on bathroom walls, or assaults on Muslim women. And it doesn’t elect KKK-endorsed candidates to the highest position of power in, yes, still the world’s greatest country. Yes, we are the solution to this insidious political nightmare. But we didn’t realize that until just now. I am saddened that it took the election of a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic reality TV star with an orange face for us to realize this. But that’s why we owe you a big thank you, Mr. Trump, for following through on your biggest campaign promise. You just pissed off the most educated, tolerant, progressive, open-minded and capable generation the world has seen yet- and we will, INDEED, “Make America Great Again.”
Thank you, Mr Trump, for awakening the Gloria Steinem in millions of American women.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for inciting the dormant protestors within us.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for creating a sense of community through a simple safety pin.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for fostering the fire in millions of Harvey Milks.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for inspiring a generation to channel the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for revealing the many walls that are already up, and the need to tear them down.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for exposing our ugly truths, so that we may mend them with a stronger seal.
But, still, the biggest gratitude we owe you is for invoking a passion for country in a generation that has lacked it for too long. It seems we had forgotten what it means to be American, until you reminded us of something on Tuesday. We took one look at you with the words, “President-elect” before your name, and we saw, in flesh and blood, an image of exactly what we will never, ever allow the word “American” to mean again.