The 2016 elections shocked so many. The media told us that there is no way that Trump could win, and on election night that mindset lost the election for Hillary. Everyone seems to be looking for what to blame for this upset. Some blame the DNC for not putting up an electable candidate. Some say it’s voter turn out or voter complacency. Others think that voter suppression was to blame, or the electoral college is a broken system. The truth is all of the above. All of these factors, plus probably a few more we haven’t found yet contributed to a Trump presidency.

The hope now is that maybe this will be what it takes to motivate the democrats to rethink the way they do things. Maybe we can motivate more people to vote, and get the democrats to start giving us some candidates. In fact, lack of candidates is what is stopping many of the southern states from turning blue. For example in Tennessee, we also had local candidates on the ballots. The ballot was full of republicans running completely uncontested. Where are the democratic options? Did the democrats give up on the south? The mood here is that there is no one to represent equality, women’s rights, or minority rights. Sure we had a few running who lost, but just having some options would improve the attitude here.

We have low voter turn out, and even lower voter registration rates. Tennessee has more people of a liberal mind set than the polls or even the demographics suggest. They are just afraid or feel their voice will not be heard. I personally fell into that category, and share just as much blame as anyone else. All of this, of course makes me a hypocrite, and I am not afraid to admit this. This election has forced me to look deep into myself and the way I see the state that I call home. I sat back and expected that the country would take the higher road and not elect such a terrible president. I felt my vote wouldn’t matter, and that my vote would not have a chance to turn Tennessee blue. By doing so, I only contributed to the Trump presidency rather than helping stop it.

Hillary would not have been a great president, but she also would not have undone all of the progress, that so many worked hard to achieve. And election night was not the time to worry about all of this. The time to make a change was the time between presidential election cycles. The last midterm election was a missed opportunity to turn some states blue, and increase liberal representation in congress. Instead the nation remained complacent and allowed many states to stay red. This is a lesson to all who wish to see their state move toward progress. Voting matters and not just once every four years. Our local elections matter, and the only way we are going to see positive change is if we take on our responsibility as citizens.

I made this mistake and I know many more who did so as well. I know now that we failed in our responsibility as citizens to vote. And we also failed to advocate for more candidates in local elections that fight for equality and progress. It is now more important than ever for myself and those like me to push for a more informed and involved citizenry. We must stop being complacent and take a more active roll in choosing our representatives and community leaders.