By Dawn Onley
I have much to say, and nothing at all.
I went to bed depressed last night, after watching returns come in for Florida and Georgia, Texas, Ohio and my home state of Maryland. I wondered how in several of these states, Republicans could be rewarded for their antics just over the past couple of months let alone the past few years.
And then I realized it has nothing at all to do with reward. It has everything to do with maintaining business as usual. Protecting the status quo.
After all of the voter drives and student rallies. After historic turnout in many areas. After the monetary contributions and the physical exertion of time and effort. After the social media shares. After the tedious research on candidates. After writing the articles and posting them. After phone banking. After the debates and candidate meet and greets.
After it all — it still came down to this.
I was so sad last night. I felt so defeated.
But then I woke up with a different mindset.
I appreciate all of the mid-term gains in the House — the beautiful, diverse group of women that were voted in and who helped make history, not just along party lines but women who resemble who America is becoming and whom the old guard is fighting fiercely to try and stop.
These women prevailed.
Eventually, America will prevail. Our best America. Our truest America. The America that includes us all.
I refuse to lose hope.
Hope (noun) is defined as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” In other words, it’s a belief in one’s self, in one’s circumstances, in events, maybe even in the greater context of the country or the world. It’s a belief in the good. Hope is optimistic.
Hope expects the best.
In some instances, hope doesn’t receive the best. It’s a harsh truth and it can leave us feeling crushed and downtrodden if we don’t resist those feelings and fight back.
Last night was a mixed bag. It showed just how deeply divided America is.
This morning, it’s peaceful in my mind. I’m turning off the TV. I’m limiting my social media intake. I’m relishing the gains that were made, however small.
I’m realizing that this is the same America that took a century on record to end slavery but another century after that in practice. It’s the same America that didn’t pass the Voting Rights Act until 1965 — a mere 53 years ago — providing federal protection and oversight for black people choosing to exercise the right to vote.
It only happened because good people mobilized and worked their asses off until they prevailed in their strategy to win.
Nothing happens overnight in America and the old guard has proven time and time again, it will cheat, lie, steal and pillage its way to victory through race-baiting, voter suppression, false allegations, you name it. It will do what it takes to arouse fear in its base because fear drives people to do irrational things. It has proven that there is no bottom, that there is no limit to where they will go, that they will change the tactics and game if need be to preserve their exclusive country club version of America.
It’s exhausting. It’s soul-crushing. It’s work that will take everything out of you to fight back. For every step forward, it feels like a step back.
Still, the House win shows we can get there, if we don’t lose hope. If we continue to fight. If we don’t give up. It shows that gains come slow, but even so — that tortoise will win the race. Good will prevail.