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Progressive Voice: Thoughts After a Difficult Election

Mary Hynes at the Jan. 1, 2015 County Board organizational meetingProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By: Mary Hynes

Wednesday morning at 6:45, my thirty-something daughter and her husband walked into our kitchen. She had been in tears for several hours. All her work to encourage voting for Hillary had come to naught.

A lifelong Washingtonian, she was beside herself with fear. Would DC now be a larger terrorism target; would women harassed and abused no longer have the legal protections they now enjoy; would her sister — and those she sees at the busy healthcare practice where she works — no longer have essential healthcare coverage?

My husband and I — lifelong Democrats with deep Minnesota progressive roots — tried our best to reassure her. The Constitution will protect us…we live in a nation of laws…it takes time to repeal laws and there will be opportunities to peacefully oppose unnecessary change.

No one gets to sit on the sidelines now. But let’s face it — we have the same fears and concerns over the past 10 months and yet our voices and actions weren’t enough.

So what should we — the plurality of Americans who chose the losing side — do next?

I will take my cues from the prophet Micah: We are called to act with justice; we are called to love tenderly; we are called to serve one another; to walk humbly with God.

My watch words — my guiding stars — will be JUSTICE, LOVE, SERVICE, AND HUMILITY.

JUSTICE: No more spinning. I will not subscribe or listen to media outlets that do not provide fact based reporting. I believe the 24/7 news cycle has perpetuated misinformation. I want hard reporting, backed by evidence. I want a focus on the incredibly difficult issues this country faces and how each of the policy choices we have will affect real people. Anecdotes and opinions in the guise of hard reporting have not served anyone in this country well.

LOVE: If the same-sex marriage movement taught us anything it should be that people are people are people. I don’t know many Trump voters. I will actively look for ways I can help build bridges — across the Commonwealth, within the larger faith community, with folks who are different from me. Because this can be difficult and uncomfortable to do alone, I will urge the organizations I am part of to take this task on as part of their mission.

SERVICE: No sitting on the sidelines. I will pick an issue or two to deeply educate myself on. I’ll call out misinformation where I can and ask as many questions as I need to ask to ensure that we have the information we need and know how to object. I’ll give money and time to those causes that advance building bridges and serving those who may be voiceless.

HUMILITY: No one person can solve our problems or pull this country back together, despite that claim by our President-Elect. The health of our country depends on each of us being, in our work and our lives, respectful of our incredibly diverse fellow Americans. Those of us who’ve been active in the past, who thought we might have peaceful retirement years, had a rude awakening on November 8. I will seek new ways to share my story, knowledge and expertise with my millennial children and neighbors as they assume their rightful places as leaders in our towns, counties, states and country.

This election proves, once again, that every vote matters.

The popular/electoral vote difference demonstrates very clearly that our nation is in the midst of change — and that we have two different visions of what should come next. Lasting resolution will only come through engagement with those whose views seem different from our own.

The first step is to find out where we do agree and begin rebuilding from that strength. Every community, guided by a justice, love, service and humility, needs to take on this work.

Our future depends on it.

Mary Hynes served as an Arlington elected official for 20 years — eight years on the County Board, including service as Chairman, and 12 years on the School Board. She sought in those positions to promote civic engagement and progressive values. She and her husband continue to live in Arlington.

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