What a difference a year makes. I arrived at my voting place in Bridgeport Tuesday morning, just before 6 a.m., and honestly thought it was closed. A lone car was in the front part of the school lot and no candidates were lurking within the safe areas. But when I walked through the door, one of the staff said, “Ok folks, it looks like we have our first voter.”
A year ago, I proudly arrived at 5:30 a.m., joining at least 50 people already in line, to cast my ballot for the person I thought would be the first woman president. We all remember how that one went. And a year later, I really have more regrets than bitterness about what has happened to this country. Yes, Hillary lost the election, but the overgrown adolescent who currently occupies the White House is slowly undoing the programs that have, for the most part, been working.
As was the case in so many elections around the country, this election was not critical. A referendum, which concerned a small tax to ensure that libraries will continue to offer services for free was very critical. The three races involved electing school board members, a sheriff’, and a first select person. I carefully colored in my votes, honestly not knowing anyone for whom I was voting, but I was committed to putting as many democrats in key positions in town as I could.
And that’s why voting, even in this small election was more important than ever to me. I would hope that millions of other voters around the country were equally committed to sending a message. If we are going to make any kind of difference at all in this surreal Trump era, we need to speak out with our votes, no matter how insignificant we believe they might be. I still believe my vote matters and was shocked last year to hear about the numbers of people who didn’t even vote. They just might have made the difference in giving Hillary the electoral votes she needed.
As I walked back to my car this past Tuesday, one of the democratic school board candidates thanked me for coming out to vote. I told her that I remembered her name and had voted for her. “I am teaching in Bridgeport,” I told her. “Please get something done.”
The year since Donald Trump’s unlikely election has definitely been one of protest marches, racial tensions unlike anything we have seen in a long time and setbacks for immigrants. But despite our leader’s autocratic, bombastic and caustic approach to getting things done, we do not have a wall at the border between the United States and Mexico, women are more outspoken and active than ever about their rights and treatment and we are in the midst of an ongoing investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion by the Trump people with the Russians.
With the Trump presidency less than a year old, we have seen the resignations of several cabinet members and the indictments by the Mueller team of several prominent Trump staffers. The Republicans couldn’t repeal or replace Obamacare and even the President himself couldn’t railroad through any kind of compromise bill. He has threatened and ridiculed members of his cabinet and his own secretary of state has called him a moron.
Three executive orders by the President have yet to be fully enacted; a fourth order forbidding LGBT soldiers to serve is in process of being overturned by the armed forces. And there is still no resolution on the expired dreamer law for the children of immigrants.
While the President continues to hold his self-aggrandizement rallies, months into his presidency, free-thinking constituents outside his narrow-minded base are speaking out more and more. My wife and I have watched in awe as citizens have stood up to their legislators on issues like healthcare and immigration. And their voices are being heard loud and clear as many of these legislators begin preparing for the 2018 mid-term elections.
We’ve certainly learned from this last presidential election that as voters we do have a voice and we need to use it. And my wife has told me ever since the election to get out there and get more involved in issues. Work for the party, she told me. We can make a difference.
I couldn’t agree more. This year has made a big difference to a large number of people. But the telling tale will come with the 2018 elections.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.