The Young Progressives Demanding Action is a group that started – both on a national scale and at UNM – just in recent months, but the progressive activist group has one priority for the foreseeable future: battling the potentially harmful reverberations of a Trump presidency that officially begins on Friday.
While most of campus will probably be tuned in to TV screens, laptop displays or their phones to watch the inauguration of the already polarizing President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, YPDA will be hosting a rally at Cornell Mall to “show opposition on many of his policies and ideas on day one,” said Nathan Siegel, president of YPDA UNM.
“We don’t want him to go into the Oval Office thinking that he can get whatever he wants,” he said.
Instead, Siegel said he hopes the event – scheduled for noon this Friday – empowers those who attend.
There have been numerous anti-Trump and anti-hate marches held nationwide and locally since Nov. 8, when the business mogul managed a stunning upset over the presumed frontrunner and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But Friday’s protest will represent the first show of opposition to Trump as his administration begins.
While much has been made about the results of the election, and the possible influence of outside forces over the course of the campaign, YPDA stated on the event’s Facebook page that the goal of the rally isn’t in changing the outcome, but rather looking forward – and planning.
“We must look towards the future to prevent any damages that are potentially caused by his administration,” the post reads.
YPDA – a branch of the larger Progressive Democrats for America that is concentrated on college campuses – will be joined by representatives from other groups to provide “hope for the coming future in solving our most unfortunate problems” as well as information on how to be politically active. Student Alliance for Reproductive Justice, KIVA Club and the Equalist Coalition are just a handful of those groups.
The rally is just one of a myriad that will be held on Inauguration Day as people across the country plan on making their voices heard. Thousands are expected to participate in a peaceful Women’s March on Washington the morning of the inauguration. Free marijuana will be provided in Washington D.C. by a marijuana advocacy group. And other national anti-Trump demonstrations are expected to be held in major cities across the U.S.
As far as the UNM event, which is part of a nationwide YPDA movement born out of an emergency meeting held after Trump’s surprising victory, Siegel said positivity will be the driving force, and that anyone with hateful mindsets won’t be welcome.
The title on the event’s Facebook page, simply “UNM Walkout Event,” seems to reflect that, although the page’s banner does include a graphic of a slash through Trump’s likeness, suggesting that even at an event that seeks to preach inclusion, many are still warming to the idea of Trump in the Oval Office.
“We are planning for a future against Trumpism,” Siegel said. “I want to focus on the action of his administration and not the reaction of his administration.”
But that doesn’t mean Siegel and other YPDA members don’t condemn Trump’s rhetoric, which he said “breeds hate.” Citing Trump’s openness to expanding the U.S. nuclear stockpile and discriminating against women and minorities, he suggested that Trump’s presidency is one that won’t be for all the people, particularly as far right figureheads such as David Duke have stated support for him.
“And that is terrifying,” Siegel said. “I don’t want to live in a society that supports hate, and I am pretty sure that most Donald Trump supporters feel the same way.”
Siegel says he personally knows members of conservative groups on campus, such as College Republicans and Young Americans for Liberty, but hasn’t reached out to them about potential involvement in the event. The New Mexico Federation of College Republicans in particular officially opposed Trump’s candidacy for office prior to the election, instead endorsing former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
Siegel said he hopes to discuss collaboration with those groups for potential future campus events, including town halls and other events that would benefit from including a variety of political and societal mindsets.
With Friday’s rally which represents just one ripple in a sea of political reaction to Trump’s inauguration, YDPA – and countless other groups and individuals – begin to look to a future of uncertain societal consequence, but one in which the group hopes will include maximum involvement from as many people as possible.
David Lynch is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.