Inauguration turns page, but we can’t forget history

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Since Donald Trump was inaugurated in 2017, America has marched for women, for our lives, against travel bans and against police brutality. Four years of outrage and activism culminated in his defeat this November. 

But the fight isn’t over. Just because power has changed hands doesn’t mean right-wing populists like Trump won’t run and win again. It is imperative we don’t forget the lessons we have learned, the norms that were broken, and the people who were harmed during his presidency so that history does not repeat itself. This country can’t move on until we address what just happened. 

Conservative populism (borderline facism might be a better description) isn’t new to our democracy. From as early as the 1840s, parties such as the Know-Nothings have run on anti-immigration, nativist platforms that forget the values America was founded on. We saw it in the late 19th century as a reaction to the wave of immigration, and again in the ‘90s leading up to modern day with the rise of Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. The tea-party movement and Trump’s subsequent nomination is just another version of extreme nationalism rearing its ugly head through the cycle of history. It’s nothing new, we just keep getting complacent. This time around Americans have to do better.

We have to remember that at one point in history our president called places in Africa “s**t hole countries.” We have to remember he banned transgender people from the military. We have to remember kids in cages. We have to remember he incited a mob to storm the capitol building. We have to remember the Muslim ban, both impeachments, obstruction of justice, the Hollywood access tape, Charlottesville, questioning election results. We have to collectively agree that those actions were wrong and work every day to stop them happening again. 

So when politicians call only for healing and unity in this moment it’s an injustice to history. It’s a kick in the face to the people Trump has hurt in the past four years. There can be unity, but that doesn’t mean compromising with white supremacists. There can be healing, but not without accountability.

Now is possibly the least logical time to call for unity. The GOP is currently drifting right as the Democrats move to the left. In fact, according to a study by the V-Dem Institute, the Republican party has been slowly abandoning democratic values since 2006. The capital was just overrun by Trump supporters. Why would it be honourable or productive to compromise now? A compromise at this moment would be over the concept of a free country where people are treated equally. A compromise now would be over the heart of this democracy. So pick a side already. 

Once those who caused the violence in the capital have been held accountable, once those propagating lies have been expelled from office, once we return to the accepted norm that bigotry is bad, then we can talk about unity and healing. But even when or if we get there, we can never forget.

However, there is one positive thing that has been proven to us recently. We can vote. And our vote will be counted. So vote. Vote in every election ever. Do it religiously, and with the history you just witnessed in mind.