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Op-Ed: We Can’t Let Donald Trump Stop What We Have Started

Donald Trump speech fear op-ed
Flickr/Gage Skidmore

After last week’s Democratic National Convention, I’m realizing what we have accomplished in the last eight years is bigger than any one candidate.

Last week, the Democratic National Convention ended. Liberals have their candidate--Hillary Clinton. Although the party was divided in supporting her, I realized something crucial during my last day in Philadelphia.

This isn't about her anymore. This is about us.

Who are we? We are the people who elected Barack Obama as the first black President. We come in every color, religion, and economic background. We are cisgender, transgender, and queer. We know that it only gets better for everyone when it is better for everyone.

We are the United States.

And no individual among us--not Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, and definitely not Donald Trump--has the ability to shape this country alone.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

83 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed these immortal words. Last week, they were reiterated by Hillary Clinton in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Despite how much I admire FDR (I even have a tattoo honoring him on my shoulder), I have always found these famous words to be complete nonsense. Really, Roosevelt? Your Depression Era audience should not have feared their inability to feed their families, their lack of shelter, or their struggle to survive the winter? Those seem like tangible fears to me. They always have.

However, after the close of the DNC last Thursday, I think I have a better understanding of what he was trying to say.

Leading into the DNC, I was definitely guilty of fear mongering myself. I wrote last week as a Bernie Sanders supporter, I am voting for Hillary Clinton out of fear. Fear for the unimaginable global horror that a Trump presidency would usher in. Fear for the unprecedented assault that his leadership would bring to our most vulnerable communities.

While I still have a deep rooted belief that "the only thing we have to fear is President Donald Trump," my opinion has been slightly altered this week. Because, even though the Democratic Party is far from unified and faces scandal after scandal, the contrast between the two camps could not be starker. The speakers at the DNC framed it beautifully--in this fight, it is "we" vs. "him." And, by Thursday night last week, "we" have never looked stronger.

We've been responsible for some pretty incredible tasks during the last eight years. Under President Obama, we started to take a system built to suppress us and forced it to start working in our favor. As a united front, we demanded that all of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters have the right to marry. We exclaimed that we all deserve access to affordable health care, and we refused to stay silent as so many innocent lives were lost to police brutality and violence.

And, you know what? We are winning. Trump's fearful "midnight in America" is a fiction, because we refuse to allow it to manifest. But, if he is allowed to take the helm of state, he will steer us off track from the fragile, progressive foundation that we have fought so hard for.

After the initial tumult that I walked into on my first day in Philadelphia--with understandable protests against the defunct and bloated two-party system - I find myself feeling more hopeful. I am hopeful that, if we are united, we can defeat the rising tide of fear and hatred swelling on the right. That's the kind of fear all of us should be afraid of--baseless, spineless, directionless terror, meant to mask the accomplishments that we have made in the name of our people.

So yes, maybe Roosevelt was right. If any of us submit to this poisonous dread, it is impossible to continue what we started.

I am voting for Hillary Clinton in November. I will vote for her because I am afraid of Donald Trump, yes. But I will also vote for her because we have achieved too much to revert back to the darkness of our all too recent past.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Derek Elliott Bagley