It feels like whenever America takes a great deep breath and expands itself, there’s this inevitable panicked exhale as the old entrenched ways fear they’ve sucked in something lethal. So we free the slaves but kill Lincoln. We promise the moon and civil rights then get Vietnam and Nixon. Two terms of Clinton begat two terms of Bush. And now we’re seeing the same panicked exhale after two terms of Obama, after marriage equality, after LGBT rights. We can’t seem to move forward without the people too scared to live in a new world trying to drag us back to the old one.
This isn’t to say we should all just relax and somehow muddle through the next four years because it’ll eventually get better. Because some of us aren’t going to have that option. For some of us, “muddle through” might mean getting hurt simply for what they look like or who they love. It might mean just hoping they live to see the next four years.
Which is why we have to remember what else requires a great deep breath: the angry shout.
This is not the time to be quiet. This is not the time to say, “Well, lost that one, we’ll get ’em next time.” Because some of us may not have a next time. We need to shout. We need to let it be known what we stand for, and what we will not stand for. We need to challenge and protest and object and show them that while they may have won an election, they did not win the argument.
Because with each great deep breath we take, that old world gets further and further behind us. And eventually, the panicked exhale will be a last gasp. And we can all just breathe.