From now until at least the midterm elections in November, we’ll be featuring essays from powerful cultural voices alongside one simple thing, chosen by the author, that you can do to take action against the paralyzing apoplexy of the daily news. Maybe it’ll be an organization that deserves your donation; maybe it’ll be an issue that deserves greater awareness. Whatever it is, our aim is to remind you, and ourselves, of the big and small things we can do to work toward justice and change.
What Is Better
by Porochista Khakpour
One of the worst things that has happened to me in all my life is the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. I was born in Iran and came to the U.S. as a political refugee between the revolution and the start of the Iran-Iraq War. We were told we would have a better life in America, far from fundamentalism and theocracy. But finally, on the brink of forty, I am wondering what exactly is better, what we thought was better, if this was America all along.
The fact that Donald Trump has still not been impeached should be a source of considerable shame for all of us. What does it take? This man has been accused of harassment and assault, even child rape, by many women. He has made lying and distorting basic truths a norm. Since last year, his main mission has been to reverse all of President Obama’s best policies. We’ve had to revisit so many nightmares: Trump on transgender troops, his constant demonizing of the press, his threats against judges who oppose him, his fracturing of the Iran nuclear accord, his obsessions with tensions with all our allies. His white supremacist agenda, his comparison of the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville to those who opposed them, his mishandling of the hurricane in Puerto Rico, his constant baiting of NFL players and other black public figures, his obsession with his building his wall to keep Mexicans out, his travel ban on Muslims. We haven’t even gotten to Comey, Russia, his obsession with Hillary Clinton still, and his troubling usage of Twitter.
To say this man is unfit to lead is an understatement; he’s unfit to be an American. A human, really.
I wrote these words on Facebook a few days after the first anniversary of his election:
I no longer believe Trump will be impeached. I now truly worry he will have a second term. I’ve just about lost all trust of Americans, except for the ones I love. I don’t know how some of you are feeling empowered or triumphant right now—nothing is really working. I think we have to face this. The resistance always had symbolic value to me, but I’m not sure it has more than that. Sorry to sound hopeless.
Days after I wrote that, I told myself I could not give up. It’s not in me. I’ve been an activist since I was a child. But I realized that, like all problems, we can’t go into this one alone. We have to ask for help. We need all Americans to want this change, to know they deserve better, to believe in something more glorious than what we have right now. We can’t do it alone. My hope for 2018 is that we remember ourselves and continue to lean on each other, so that this moment in our life can fade, one day, into just a bad memory.
Take action today:
Porochista Khakpour is the author of Sick, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, and The Last Illusion.