By City Council Member Dan Garodnick
Like most New Yorkers, I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election. Hillary Clinton won nearly 80 percent of the vote in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, and the nationwide popular vote by more than 2 million votes. Despite this result, she won’t be occupying the Oval Office in January.
I am further disturbed and outraged by the uptick in hate crimes and bias incidents that have been taking place across the United States and in our own backyard. A swastika was recently carved into a door in the apartment building our own State Senator, Brad Hoylman. Hate crimes against Muslims in New York City have doubled from 2015 to 2016. A terrifying, homophobic death threat was sent to an openly gay colleague of mine, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens. This is shameful, unacceptable, and not the city I know.
It’s also not the country I saw as I campaigned for Hillary Clinton.
During the final weekend before the election, I traveled to Philadelphia with Zoe and our two sons. Because the boys were too young (or not yet born!) during my City Council campaigns, this was the first time we really had a chance to teach them the importance of rolling up their sleeves and doing some political activism.
We loaded the car, dressed ourselves in Planned Parenthood t-shirts (to support not only the cause of women’s reproductive health, but also my wife Zoe, who is the Senior Associate General Counsel of their national office), and we discussed the importance of this election through the entire trip.
As it turns out, little boys are quite proficient at pushing doorbells, and putting “remember to vote” stickers on doors. It was amazing to feel their excitement when someone would say that they were voting for Hillary and thanked us for coming to their house for a visit. And I was proud to see them work alongside people of all races, orientations, and creeds to further our common goal.
When I learned the results of the election, I thought hard about how I was going to break the news to the boys. Ultimately, my message to them was that sometimes we lose elections, but that doesn’t mean that we give up. We get up, dust ourselves off, and prepare for the next battle. After all, the midterms are a mere 24 months away.
As we reckon with the next presidency, we must fight back and organize within our own communities. We must come together and make meaningful change. We could volunteer each week with youth, immigrants or an interfaith group. We could make a recurring donation to a non-profit that works with groups who have been targeted over the past months. It could also mean joining the community board or deciding to run for office yourself.
We must work on the federal level as well. If our new president announces policies that threaten our ideals, attempt to silence journalists, create conflicts of interest or violate the Constitution, we will not be silent. We will call our elected representatives, we will support organizations that will take these fights to the courts, and we will protest. The vitality of our centuries-old democracy depends on a free exchange of ideas, and on vigorous civic engagement.
We lost this battle, but we certainly aren’t going away.