Op-Ed

Published on January 27th, 2017 | by Amanda Riggle

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The First Five Days

I wake up, five days into a nightmare. For a brief moment, you forget. As sleep slips away and consciousness takes hold, the world you are living in floods back to you.

This is Trump’s “America” now.
I worked during his inauguration. My students were upset.

“Did you hear what he said about Muslims?”

Yes. I did.

“He’s still talking about that wall!”

I know. I’m sorry.

“What are we going to do?”

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

I marched on Saturday, along with 750,000 other people in Los Angeles. It wasn’t planned. I was upset. I didn’t know where else to go and what else to do. My best friend texted me saying he wanted to go and that he’d wait for me to get to his house before he drove out to the protest so we could go together. We made signs after work on Friday night.

“Better Red than Orange” I wrote. I colored it red and orange, naturally. I put a Trump wig on the “O” in “Orange.” I didn’t know if people would get it. I quickly added “Socialist and proud” to my sign.

I drew my first solidarity fist on the other panel of my sign. We were all in this together — black, white, brown, gay, straight, bi, cis, trans, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist — we were all under attack and solidarity was all I had to offer.

“Garbage president for a garbage culture” graced my friend’s sign. He changed his mind in the morning and threw up a famous quote instead.

The march was crowded. We parked in Little Tokyo and thought we’d have a ways to walk — but about two blocks away, the streets were already filled with the bodies of other angry Angelenos.

It wasn’t so much a march as it was a sea of signs riding a wave of bodies with flashes of pink pussy hats, well-behaved purebred dogs, and small children. This wasn’t like the protests I’d been to before.

The police smiled as people walked by. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck graced us with his presence. Celebrities walked amongst the masses and bumped into the common folk gathered ‘round.

“I think that was The Edge from U2 that just walked by” said a random stranger who apparently knew who The Edge from U2 was.

I knew other party members were there, but I couldn’t find a single one. We were separated by the flood of people.

This didn’t feel like a protest — this most certainly wasn’t a march. I don’t know how to label it, but whatever it was, it made Trump mad, and that’s at least one step in the right direction.

That night, he and his press secretary presented “alternative facts” (labeled alternative facts the following day) and set the precedent for how his presidency would be run: on lies. The swamp was empty and no alternative could fill the blank spaces in front of the White House. No half-truths and threats to the media could hide how many people chose to exercise their constitutional right to assemble on Saturday.

In response to the women’s march, the largest single movement assembled in the history of the United States (and that’s just counting protests in the U.S. and not those conducted overseas), Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy on Monday, withdrawing funding America was giving to other nations for healthcare if a single red cent of that funding goes towards abortion.

Trump signed this bill while surrounded by seven white men.

Tuesday was no better. While White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer continued to spread the alternative fact that Trump won both the popular vote and the electoral vote, if all those dang illegal votes weren’t counted, the orangest man alive signed an executive order to continue construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The state of North Dakota also introduced legislation to make it legal to hit and kill protesters with cars — but only if they are on a roadway, of course. Human life can’t get in the way of progress nor cause any backups on the highway. Who needs water, anyway?

Just look at how well Flint, Michigan, has been doing with years of unsafe, unclean water.

The EPA and USDA were told to stop using social media and that all of their grants were frozen, for the time being. Who needs clean air and safe food to eat, anyway?

Coal is the future, and black lung and a vitamin D deficiency are just things that go along with it, okay?

But yet another wave of dissent and disgust washed over Trump’s actions — not of the pipeline, but of his social-media blackout of the USDA.

I guess we’re all okay with black lung and dirty water, but vitamin D deficiencies will be something we don’t have to worry about.

“He’s going after voter fraud now.”

It’s Wednesday. I see my students again today.

“He said that on Twitter.”

Twitter seems to be his avenue for press releases. I wonder why he even bothered with a press secretary.

“Is he — do you think he’s smart enough to — is he trying to suppress more votes so he’ll win again?”

Yes. I think that’s exactly what he’s doing and no, I don’t think he’s smart enough to do that on his own. He’s a puppet. Pence, the Republicans, Goldman Sachs, the Oligarchy — take your pick. There’s a hand up that orange saggy ass.

Sanctuary cities are next on his list. Funding is cut. Muslims are next on his list. They can’t fly into the U.S. Trump’s dream of a wall between the United States of America and Mexico will soon become a reality — at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The New York Times and The Washington Post report that there has been a leak of an executive order to bring back black site prisons to detain future torture subjects.

I honestly don’t know who he wants to put in the black site prisons. We’re all enemies of the state when Trump is in office.

Are we still doing the Unity Expo on Saturday?

“Yeah.” He, the same he from the women’s march, replies.

Do you think it’ll make a difference?

“I don’t know at this point.” He says, because he doesn’t believe in alternative facts.

It’s now one hour into day six, and I can’t close my eyes. I’m too afraid of what I will wake up to in the morning.

I click on my open Facebook tab and see a tidal wave of marches on the calendar — the March for Science. The March for Muslims. The Emergency #nodapl March. I see rogue tweets coming out of Badlands National Park Services. I look in the Socialist Party USA Members’ Only tab and see reports of police being shipped riot gear to prepare for more mass demonstrations. I open the news and I see six journalists have been charged with covering the rioting in D.C. during Trump’s inauguration. I see more memes being shared that it’s okay to punch a Nazi in the face and, that, in fact, is what we should all do “to make America great again.”

I reach my word limit for this submission and I stop with sleep nowhere in sight.


About the Author

graduated with her BA in English Education and is enrolled in an English MA program with hopes of continuing onto her PhD. She studies Early Modern English Drama, Marxism, and Feminism. She is one of the co-founders of the Inland Empire chapter of The Socialist Party USA as well as co-chair of the Socialist Party of California.



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