For those on the left in shock or sorrow over Donald Trump’s win, here is a quote worth remembering: “Ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement.”
The statement comes from Trump himself; it was part of his election night victory speech. But progressives have as much right to claim it as their own.
No, Hillary Clinton did not become America’s first female president. But her candidacy was important — and contrary to the too-common narrative, many were inspired. This was a very close race. Clinton earned 59.7 million votes, and Trump won 59.5 million.
Millennial voters would have elected Clinton by an Electoral College vote of 504 to 23 had they been the only ones filling out ballots.
Granted, what we witnessed in this historic presidential race was often ugly, vulgar and obscene. Nevertheless, people were galvanized. Clinton’s candidacy inspired a flash mob of 170 men and women in pantsuits in Union Square. Hundreds flocked to the Rochester grave site of suffrage activist Susan B. Anthony and placed “I voted” stickers on her tombstone. Parents took their daughters to polling places, on the campaign trail and to election eve parties.
Those opposed to Trump should not let that spirit get away but must bring it to bear in their continuing pursuit of women’s rights.
In places yesterday, progressives were drawing lines in the sand. Physicians for Reproductive Health vowed to “remain vigilant,” noting Trump’s opposition to abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s health is endangered.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, emailed supporters to say she was “Devastated. Angry. Heartbroken.” But she added that the four most important words were these: “These. Doors. Stay. Open.”
She was responding to Trump’s pledge to defund Planned Parenthood despite its work providing women with birth control and services like breast and cervical cancer screenings. On Twitter, supporters urged others to sign up for a monthly donation plan.
Elsewhere, women celebrated electoral victories. Emily’s List, which raises money for pro-abortion-rights women candidates, said a record number of women of color will be serving in Congress as a result of Tuesday’s vote. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada was elected as the nation’s first Latina senator. Kamala Harris of California, Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois will all join the U.S. Senate in January.
These women, noted Jess O’Connell, executive director of Emily’s List, arrive with diverse perspectives and strong voices “at a time when we’ve never needed them more,” adding, “Their leadership will provide the checks and balances that are such a critically important part of our government, as we continue our work to achieve full equality for women.”
Trump’s attitude toward sexual assault will bear watching. We’re all familiar with his boasts and women’s accusations against him. But keep in mind that, as a nation, we are still struggling with how those in authority handle reports of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military. After a Pentagon survey found that roughly 26,000 men and women had been assaulted, Trump tweeted, “What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”
Finally, progressives should hold Trump to a promise he made as a candidate to guarantee six weeks of paid leave for mothers who have just given birth.
Here’s another quote worth remembering, and it comes from the gracious concession speech Clinton made yesterday morning: “This loss hurts. But please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
Anne Michaud is the interactive editor for Newsday Opinion.