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DEANGELO: Progressives must take action this year, not simply protest

Opinions Column: All That Fits

In the eyes of many, 2017 has been defined by the roar of resistance. Reviving from post-election traumatics, critics of President Donald J. Trump gathered in the millions last year to voice their disapproval like clockwork. Those who wished to defy the new administration took to the streets with signs and dissent. The protests began in the first month with the Women’s March, then branched into oppositions against travel bans, immigration reform and climate change. Across the nation, there was a collective battle cry that yelled, “This Will Not Stand.”

This year began in a similar way, with millions more participating in a second annual Women’s March just last weekend. Again, protesters gathered to shape their vision of America. Again, celebrities stood behind podiums to deliver political sermons. The calendar page turned, and 2018 brought civil unrest that turned more backs to the president. 

Though it is important to note the overwhelming need to speak out is threaded in the DNA of Americans. We were founded on revolutionary resistance and will continue to find ways to change the status quo for the sake of growth and improvement. It is patriotic to challenge the systems that govern us. But, as the United States enters the second year of Trump’s term, the resistance will have to do more than paint signs and walk streets to practice this patriotism. In 2018, they need to arm themselves with more than self-assurance. They must go out and vote. 

What some of Trump’s critics may not know is that November of this year welcomes the midterm elections for Congress. The nation-wide vote takes place in the dead middle of Trump’s four-year term, putting all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 out of 100 seats in the Senate up for reelection. Actively flipping the majority from red to blue in the Senate, and potentially sending the current legislative agenda out the window, only requires two seats for the Democrats. As for the House, the partisan gap is much wider so it is harder, yet not impossible, to do the very same thing. By electing candidates that represent the ideals they protest for, supporters of this notion can alter the tides of a GOP-majority Congress. The only thing they have to do is show up.

Off-year elections get little-to-no attention, due to the fact that some legislators have been sitting in the capital building for more than 30 years.  Issues arise from stale and complacent excuses like “my vote doesn’t matter,” which in itself has plagued the minds of American voters. 

Granted, there are some fundamental issues with the way we cast our votes currently, especially in regard to polling locations and times. But there are alternate ways to vote, such as absentee ballots that do not require a physical button push and can be sent in by mail. If you live in New Jersey and want to register to vote, but do not want to enter the offices of your local elected official or motor vehicles, you can fill out a form online. These ways are made easy for a reason, and taking advantage of them requires little time and effort.

If proclamations of “new day on the horizon” are true, and the people of the United States agree with Trump’s majority disapproval rate, there must be action to see that sunrise. For protests to genuinely work, the order must be as follows: resist, register, vote. A megaphone in hand does no good when the words going through it are backed by nothing. Protest outcries like those might as well be equivalent to silence. 

If you do not identify with Trump’s stances, do not support an official who does. Voters across the country presently understand this and the results can be seen in the Democratic election sweeps of 2017. This is what brought us Assemblywoman Danica Roem (D-Va.), the first trans-woman to be elected in Virginia replacing a staunch anti-LGBTQ Republican, the first Sikh to be elected the mayor of Hoboken Ravi Bhalla (D-N.J.) and Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-N.J.) win over former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R-N.J.). 

Exercising our freedoms of speech is as red, white and blue as it gets. If people in the United States want their expressions and outcries to hold influence they need to act. When critics of Trump do not vote against him, they lose their right to complain. The new resistance must realize that without leaders that rally alongside them, their voices get further lost in the chaos.

Julia Deangelo is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. Her column, "All That Fits," runs on alternate Thursdays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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