From Mourning to Mobilization

Students here at Notre Dame and at other campuses have reacted to Trump’s victory with anguish and despair. I’ve urged them not to give up hope.

It is natural to mourn and grieve after such a devastating setback. Many students and faculty have shed tears, especially women. All of us are in shock at the seeming triumph of intolerance and mysogeny, and what this may mean for our efforts to build peace, human rights and gender equality.

On my way to class yesterday I encountered a demonstration the students organized right outside the main classroom building. Suddenly my mood shifted, and I gladly joined in. ‘Love trumps hate.’ We shouted. ‘We stand for the undocumented, for the poor, for women …’ The action went on for hours. It was so uplifting to feel our power together.

While the election loss was huge, it’s important to remember that Clinton actually won the popular vote. What does it say about our political system when for the second time in the last 16 years a candidate lost the election despite getting more votes? When billions of dollars of secretive funding pollute the airwaves with negative advertising?

We have to find a way to cure our corrupt and dysfunctional political system. We also must continue fighting campaigns for the rights of immigrants, for gender equality, for peace and economic justice.

There have been depressing times in the past. I remember the despair many of us felt when Reagan was elected. But the reckless statements that emerged from his administration (‘prevailing’ in a nuclear war, confronting the ‘evil empire’) sparked public alarm, and a massive social movement emerged to freeze and reverse the arms race. Groups like SANE experienced rapid growth in membership and public support. Parallel movements emerged in Europe and around the world. Our efforts eventually helped to constrain the arms race and end the cold war.

These are scary and uncertain times, but this can also be a moment when campaigns for justice and peace grow and expand. There is both need and opportunity for strengthening our movements. It’s time to wipe away the tears and get to work on organizing for change.