Grace in Failure

I write this as I sob my way through Barack Obama’s farewell speech. Don’t misunderstand my headline up there; “failure” is not what I use to describe him. Obama is and will be remembered as one of the best presidents in history, heralded with the likes of Lincoln and FDR. I will always remember hearing him speak live, crying and jumping up and down the night he got elected, watching him sing Amazing Grace, and witnessing this emotional farewell. Barack Obama has been a success by nearly every measure by which you can judge a presidential administration.

“Failure” is what we are going to endure for the next several years, while I nag you all about calling your representatives and bugging your friends to register to vote. The deck is stacked against us and we will fail over and over and over again. What we have to do is become used to failing, and used to resisting through that failure.

We are in this for the long haul. We will try and fail and try and fail until we wear them out, or until we break through, or until we convince them that they have no choice but to listen to our demands.

We will raise hell like they have never seen before. They expect compliant, compromising, high-road-walking Democrats to choose progress and cooperation. That is not what they are going to get. They will be watched like hawks, exposed when they deserve it, and most of all, they will have to hear us.

We have opportunities here. The Republicans are going through an identity crisis; they just happen to be in power. They know that there will be consequences if they fail to adhere to their (and Trump’s) campaign promises; they know that there will be even direr consequences if they succeed. We are in a position to seize power. This is our time. We have everything to lose and we are thirsty for blood.

We will fail but we have our voices, and they go further than our votes. Every time you call your representative, even if he or she does not listen to you, there is a record that you called and what opinion you expressed. When the time comes to start evaluating their run for re-election, you will be a voice in that conversation. In two, four, six, or eight years, our voices will be in these conversations.

We are angry; we are flooding our representatives with calls and donating in record numbers and becoming engaged. We are marching and we are writing and we are producing art and we are giving speeches. We are looking into running for office and we are volunteering and we are re-orienting the course of our lives, all in hopes to change the direction of this ship.

We are already making a difference. It is already happening. We are scaring the Republicans. They are being wishy-washy on the repeal of Obamacare. They started delaying cabinet hearings to spread them out. Al Franken ripped Jeff Sessions a new asshole today. We have powerful people in our corner and we are making a difference.

We will fail more than we succeed. Accept that now. Be ready for it. For each battle lost, we move on to the next.

If we maintain momentum, if we thrive off of failure and use our anger and our vigilance, we will turn this around. It will take a long time, but we have an enormous number of people – smart and energetic and outraged – and truth and knowledge on our side.

In the words of our soon to be former president, “Yes we can. Yes we did.”


This grief-fueled pep talk brought to you by exhaustion and rage.



Author: Melissa

Melissa is an artist and half-architect living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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