It’s been almost a week since the US elections. Although there were numerous offices, from local to federal, represented on our ballots, the office that dominated our consciousness over the last two years was that of US president. I don’t presume to know how every reader of this blog viewed the results from last Tuesday, but I’m confident that the majority of the readers here were surprised by the results and shocked by the sudden awareness of what the next four years might be like under a Trump administration. If a Progressive agenda can be described as efforts toward support for peace, justice, and the environment, then Candidate Trump’s campaign can unarguably be described as anti-Progressive.
How well President Trump’s agenda aligns with or achieves what he stated repeatedly during his campaign remains to be seen. In the last few days, much has been written by better pundits than me about how much of his campaign was merely empty rhetoric, how much Congress will follow his rather than their own agenda, and how much he is really interested in doing the hard work necessary as president. I have my own predictions, but if last week’s results tell us anything, it’s that predictions don’t really mean a thing.
But what I do know for sure, based on a lifetime of experience that includes the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, is that no one should take last week’s results as evidence that our work is done. Giving up because “this is not my America” should not be viewed as an option. If anything, the results call upon us to redouble our efforts, roll up our sleeves, and dig into our work even harder. Work — and progress — on behalf of peace, justice, and the environment did not halt under previous administrations precisely because people did not stop working toward what they believed in. They did not stop speaking their truths … and especially speaking those truths to power. And they did not stop trying to improve their abilities to be effective agents of change.
I say this to all of the MSoE alumni who went through the program thinking that the issues aren’t real and that their engagement as leaders would not really be needed: Take a close look at the US and the world today, and truly understand how much you are, in fact, needed. Your work is not done simply because you completed the MSoE curriculum. Your work is just beginning.
And I say this to all of you who are wondering if the Middlebury School of the Environment is really necessary: Take a close look at the US and the world today and ask the question of whether we need more people willing to work effectively and creatively toward a more positive future. Your answer must certainly be “yes.”
Last week’s results sadden me, but no more so than a thousand other events that have unfolded over the last several years that call into question humanity’s directions in the immediate future. More than anything, I am reminded of why the Middlebury School of the Environment is so important, and I recommit to redoubling my efforts, rolling up my sleeves, and digging into the work.