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Fulfilling Chaplin's Promise In 2016 America

15/11/2016 12:34

As the final election results streamed in, I shared with my friends and family some of the enduring words of Charlie Chaplin from what has become known as "The Greatest Speech Ever Made":

"For those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed. The bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress ... Let us fight for a new world. A decent world. That will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future, and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie, they do not fulfill that promise, they never will ... Now let us fight to fulfill that promise, let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, and hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress lead to all men's happiness ... in the name of democracy, let us all unite!"

I realize that now may not feel like the time for sweeping words and grandiose reassurances. The pain is real, and now is the time to mourn. We mourn for the America we thought we had, that we thought we were building, which seems to have vanished before our eyes in a sea of red. I am devastated at the result of the election. I can only imagine how it must feel to be muslim, hispanic, an LGBTQ+ individual, handicapped, an undocumented immigrant, or a woman in the United States right now.

But it is precisely for times like these that Chaplin spoke in 1940. Then and now, his call to action stands tall. After the tears have dried, we can all take constructive action to help fulfill his promise. Are you interested in helping to preserve civil rights during a Donald Trump Presidency? Consider joining the ACLU. Terrified that we will soon have a President who thinks climate change is a hoax? Look into 350.org or the Sierra Club. Still upset that Bernie didn't get the nomination? Join the Brand New Congress.

From my first days volunteering for Bernie, to my final moments with the Clinton campaign, I saw firsthand the enthusiasm and vibrancy of young people in our political process. Indeed, we saw some of that on election night -- here is what the election map could have looked like if only millennials had voted:

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Look at your Facebook news feed from the morning after the election, and imagine what sort of country we could have if even a fraction of that emotion were channelled towards constructive action.

Above all, let us not grow cynical. Let this be the moment that galvanizes a new generation of progressives and changemakers. Onwards towards tomorrow, towards 2018, towards 2020, and a better America for us all.

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