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Monday, November 29, 2021

Columns

Students should form their own political agenda


We don’t know what the future holds.

A host of us did not foresee the election to turn out the way it did. We’re shocked. Now many, including our fellow students, are terrified at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency and wondering what will happen to them, their family, or their friends.

They have legitimate reasons to be afraid. Trump, among other things, called for a ban on Muslim immigrants, the overturning of libel laws that protect journalists and a more invasive police force.

He also claimed that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy and demanded the mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

Since election night, there have been hundreds of violent and race-driven attacks. Some were from self-identified Trump supporters.

This will directly affect more than a few students at UH. The question that confronts all of us is will we defend our neighbor’s right to be here, to live here freely without violence or coercion?

While Trump is notoriously inconsistent in his political positions, we cannot wait to see what will happen.

There’s a second question that we have to ask, though. What should we do?

The Democratic Party appears to be cracking at its edges, utterly humiliated by losing to a racist, alleged sexual predator and supposed billionaire. It lost spectacularly on federal and local levels across the country. Whether the Democrats will remain a viable electoral party seems debatable.

The Democratic Party has only its leaders to blame. According to the voter turnout from each election since 2008, the Democratic popular vote has decreased dramatically from more than 69 million to 59 million in this election.

It is not that more people came out to vote for the Republicans than usual. Rather, significant numbers of the Democratic Party’s normal constituency are losing, or have lost, faith in the Democrats. More than 90 million people did not vote in this recent election.

Relying on the traditional channels of opposition to the Republican Party might not work. Progressives, liberals, radicals and those who are not OK with Trump’s plans need to think creatively in this moment.

We need to think outside of the box and develop strategies to win in a changed political situation. The futures of those around us and the future of the environment might depend on it.

For those to whom politics has been a spectator sport, it is time to leave the bleachers and enter the field.

Tens of thousands are protesting across the United States, including Houston. That preemptive opposition is vital, and it should continue. Everyone who does not want a future in Trump’s nation should be in the streets right now.

Protests, however, will not be enough. While they can make important symbolic gestures and create an atmosphere where Trump appears less legitimate than he already does, we need a new game plan.

Let’s begin a protracted discussion on campus on how we can win in the future and not settle for the well-worn tracks that have led us to failure. Students should write essays, organize debates, study the political situation and work together to craft a different political path.

If we remain frustrated observers of politics, we continue to be slaves to someone else’s agenda. Not only is the Democratic Party’s agenda, as a tremendously diverse and majority-female student body, is not in our interests, it is also failing.

We should figure out what our agenda is and act on it together.

Opinion columnist Douglas Van is a communications junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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