By Mr. Berkely
The American election season has officially come to an end with the inauguration of President Donald Trump. It has been one of the most unpredictable and divisive elections in history.
My IB US History class began the year learning about the United States constitution. Our semester theme has been answering questions and questioning answers. As we learned about the law of the land, we questioned our current political atmosphere.
After Donald Trump won the election, my students erupted with questions and comments. How did he win if 2 million more people voted for Clinton? Is my friend from Mexico going to be deported? Could Obama run for a third term? Most of my students felt worried. There were cries of frustration and anger. Some were silent.
On Inauguration Day, my students were eager to watch history unfold. As we saw a businessman and reality TV star take the oath of office, I noticed my classroom had a different vibe compared to Election Day. Some students were still worried and angry. Some put their heads down in disgust. And, some were glued to the live broadcast. One asked this question, “If I do not like Trump, what could I do about it?”
I smiled at my student and displayed this passage from President Obama’s farewell address:
Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
We ended the day on this note. If you do not like your elected leaders, and if you do not like what you see in your community, then do something about it.
Get organized! Get tough! Get going!