Fiorella Beccaglia Opinion Editor
Donald Trump is in fact making America great again, just not the way first he intended to. The shock of his election and his chaotic governance is driving us to engage in our democracy as few presidents have. He has unintentionally mobilized progressives to run for office, women in record numbers, and to march for causes like women’s rights and gun control. President Trump has achieved something significant, and he deserves credit, but it’s the same kind of credit Inspector Gadget deserves for unintentionally solving a crime.
During Obama’s eight years of competent leadership, democracy was very much a spectator sport. In the 2014 midterm election, democrats had so much confidence in Obama they didn’t even bother to vote, turning out the lowest number of voters in 70 years. This excessively low turnout was a disaster for the democrats, and just so happened to give republicans the edge to block Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, in 2016. And now Trump is forcing us to engage in our democracy more than any president before.
Let’s contrast their very different reactions to the most tragic, only-in-America dilemma—mass shootings. Obama insisted Congress take actions and ban assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines. He even signed 23 executive actions, but nothing changed. Not a single law or reform was made to address our gun crisis. Was our trust in Obama so profound that we forgot to do something ourselves?
Trump, with his total lack of actual solutions on our gun crisis, inspired action from the people. After years of nothing, Florida raised the legal age for buying a firearm from 18 to 21 and banned bump stocks. Stock prices soared for sport stores that stopped selling assault-style rifles. Even many gun owners have gone viral on multiple social media platform for destroying their own weapons as a sign of support for the cause. Where was this energy after Orlando, San Bernardino, Aurora, Charleston, and Sandy Hook?
Before anyone comes at me and starts ranting about normalization, let me be clear. I have no delusions about the destructive force of a narcissist for president, for reproductive rights, immigrants, for public schools, for the planet. Nonetheless, I believe something desperately needed is starting to occur: Americans are taking a stand, and it’s much more than just about guns.
Witnessing a self-admitted sexual assaulter win the presidency pushed everyone over the edge to finally tackle decades of silence about sexism. More women than ever are entering politics— nearly 600 in total for 2018. Also, way more people are supporting organizations that are vital to our democracy, like the more than $8.6 million donated to the ACLU in 2017, up from the $5 million they received from online donations in 2016. Planned Parenthood donations skyrocketed, reaching 40 times their normal rate in the week after President Trump was elected. Even local politics hold our attention and make national news. It’s the new norm to track court rulings and be informed. Most importantly, the midterm elections of 2018 marked the highest voter turnout seen in midterm elections since 1914. The Democratic Party gained a majority in the House of Representatives, thus, ending the federal trifecta that the Republican Party had established in the 2016 elections.
Following the longest government shutdown in history and knowing I write for a college audience, here’s the deal young people: don’t let this deluge of news and chaos turn into white noise. Let’s not go back to ignoring politics once Trump is out of office. Vote.