There were Trump protests in Albuquerque last night. After spending the day on my couch, flailing for freelance work to do, and trying to make any noise in my head, I heard about a vigil. I decided it was better to be not-alone, and better still to document it. I’ve dedicated a lot of my last five years to creating everyday lifestyle systems that reduce my burden on my planet, and on municipal infrastructure. I don’t do it perfectly. And yesterday, I felt like systems design wasn’t enough.
And yes, Trump’s election was unexpected.
For a lot of us on the left (and left-of-left) it was unfathomable. Which, of course, accounts for a good portion of why it happened. We didn’t think it could happen, so we didn’t really fight to make sure it didn’t. Sure, we had smart leaders emailing us every few months to say it wasn’t in the bag. But on election day, I was afraid of a Trump presidency only because it had become more tangible over the weekend. I’ll admit before anyone, I was simply didn’t think it was possible.
Of course, there were a lot of reasons Trump was elected. 7,000,000 voters illegally or barely-legally turned away from the polls. 800+ polling locations closed since 2012. The first election after the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Of the 207,000,000 eligible voters, 80,000,000 who could have voted, and did not.
Who’s not in that list?
If you blame a third-party voter for indirectly electing Trump, I have a bone to pick with you. Don’t blame them; they did their civic duty. Blame the people who stayed home when they didn’t have to, when they were fully capable of voting. Let’s assume of that 80,000,000 who sat this one out that 1/4 were eligible but unable—too far, no transportation, disabled, or otherwise unfairly denied the opportunity to vote—a generous number. That leaves 60,000,000 voters. That’s as many as voted for either Trump or Clinton. If everyone who felt like the election was rigged had voted for Stein or Johnson, at the very least they would have completely transformed the 2020 election.
So I went to the Trump protests in Albuquerque.
Because I live here. And because, while I gave up protesting as a path to change after we invaded Iraq, I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to feel not-alone. And I brought my camera, because I felt like it was a thing of real value I could contribute.
First was a vigil, at the UNM Bookstore. The mood was heavy, low to the ground, anxious. While I was there, I heard about more concentrated protests downtown. For all the ways I love Albuquerque, it’s incredibly hard getting people together here. We’re so spread out. When I got to 1st & Central, there were 50–75 people. But they were angry, and they were peaceful, and they were loud.
For every protester now, there’s probably a camera phone. But camera phones still can’t handle low-light like a pro body. And not everyone with a camera knows how to tell a story.
So in my despair, I went to the Trump protests in Albuquerque last night. And it felt good to do something, even if it was just shout for a while, and take pictures. Even if I left before the riot-geared cops approached from under the railroad bridge. Next time, I’ll get a media pass. Next time, I won’t leave so soon.