Dear President Trump:
This will be the only time you ever receive a note of gratitude from me. 365 days ago you were elected President. I was in shock and physically sickened when your win sunk in. I have never felt betrayal so deep in my bones as I did the morning of November 9th. I literally felt backed into a corner, searching for any out so I didn’t have to tell my daughter that the woman we had pinned our hopes on had lost. She lost to you: a liar. A cheat. A narcissist who has no regard for women. Not just women – you have no regard for anyone who isn’t a rich, white, male. The rest of us are expendable. I️ couldn’t stomach telling my son this is who took President Obama’s place. Both my kids knew what you were about, because they saw you campaign. And we don’t raise our children to see people as expendable. Yet, there you sat on November 9th. Elected President of the United States. And I felt backed into a corner, a mom who didn’t have the power to protect herself or her family, let alone her community.
And in texts that spoke of desperation on my part, I reached out to my friend, Elizabeth Mulligan Hartsoch. And Beth is a spitfire fighter. And Beth plainly said, NO. We will do something about his. We will do it in our hometowns. And I didn’t know what to do, so I trusted Beth and I️ followed her lead. And the next day we started grassroots organizing in our respective towns and states with one singular goal in mind: to stop you and your hateful agenda. And while our lights were flickering and our hearts were warming up, the same thing was happening all over the country. It took the form of new resistance groups. It took the form of Non-Profits lending their expertise and collaborating with new activists. It took the form of women coming together to plan the biggest march ever: The Women’s March. It was bigger than your inauguration. And we all started planning late into the night after our jobs were over and our kids tucked in bed. We planned in the early morning. We planned in the middle of the night. We planned and we talked and we set our egos aside and we collaborated. And we started to really trust each other. And we formed relationships. Not friendships exactly, not business-colleague type relationships – but connection. Deep connection where we are vulnerable and strong and everything in between. And this was ALL in reaction to YOU. And by “you,” I also mean every single person, elected or otherwise, who was complicit, or actively involved, in your coming to power.
Which by the way, power is intoxicating when left unchecked. But with your unchecked power, came our collective empowerment. And each meeting we attended, phone call we made and rally we held, we realized that we were not alone. And in fact, our voices together, shifted that power differential. Your brazen hate towards people of the country you were elected to lead, only served to expand our hearts and intensified the protection we feel for each other and our country. Your hate fueled our love. Your hate is what lit our hearts on fire and kept us going and organizing and juggling our “old lives” with our new reality. You. You did that. Thank you.
One year later, I sit here thinking of all the incredible people, with their individual stories – right in my very own community – that YOU brought into my life. Do you know, you have connected me with hundreds of people who have enriched my life and stood right next to me during one of the worst years of our lives? People who I don’t really “know,” but trust on an instinctual level because we are not afraid to lead with our hearts. And we do it in a big, bold way. Just for context, we have 3,400 people working shoulder to shoulder in Missoula. I️ didn’t know 90% of these people before the election. And it is not unique to Missoula. YOU created this all over our country.
Because at the base of it all, are people who just want to live their lives with dignity, earn a decent wage and have their rights respected. Your utter disrespect for so many connected us in a deep way. You really have no idea how you have forged these relationships and alliances. And after this last round of elections, you see our hearts and heads hard at work. We are not expendable.
“SAY OUR NAMES. And every color illuminates.
We are SHINING and we will NEVER be afraid again.”
Erin M. Erickson