It has been a remarkable three days in our nation’s history.
Sunday marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the constitutional right of women to make decisions about their own health care without interference from the government.
On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump became our 45th president — a president who, as a candidate, denigrated women and other vulnerable communities in a manner that was both unprecedented and deeply, deeply troubling.
On Saturday, I planned to march with hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens in a historic post-inaugural protest over the behavior and policies of candidate Trump, and a warning to President Trump that the majority of American voters did not support either.
I have held out hope, both during the campaign and during the transition, that Mr. Trump would moderate his behavior and his policies to better align with the views of the American people and the constituents of Ventura County.
Unfortunately, that did not happen. During the transition, he continued to mock and insult individuals and he doubled down on his extreme agenda.
On women’s issues, he has continued his promise to nominate a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade. He has chosen a vice president who has one of the most anti-choice records in the country. He has nominated, one after another, cabinet members who oppose equal pay, raising the minimum wage, and civil rights — and who support wholesale repeal of the Affordable Care Act — all of which deeply threaten the economic security of millions of women and their families.
His extreme agenda does not stop at women’s issues. Either directly or through his nominees, he has doubled down on an extreme stance toward immigrants, the African-American community, the LGBT community, climate change, income inequality, public education, foreign affairs, seniors, etc. The list goes on and on.
While it’s very difficult to discern his true intent — between his dizzying back and forth on Twitter, the inconsistent testimony from his cabinet nominees and his inaugural address — make no mistake, our democracy, our economy and our national security would be undermined by the priorities one can only decipher by reading the tea leaves thus far.
To be clear, I do not disagree with everything he has said. I agree with him that we must not reduce seniors' benefits through Social Security or Medicare. I agree with him that we must invest in our nation’s infrastructure. I agree with him that thrusting the health care of every single American into chaos and uncertainty would be disastrous. And I support his nominees to run the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense. The devil, or course, remains in the details.
I attended the inauguration Friday because I believe our democracy and the rights and freedoms the Constitution provides cannot survive without an orderly transfer of power. I also wanted to be there as a reminder to Mr. Trump that there are three equal branches of government, and that I represent a district that does not share his values and does not support the vast majority of the platform he ran on.
I also planned to participate in the Women’s March on Saturday, along with many constituents from Ventura County, because I wanted to exercise the freedom of speech that a smooth transfer of power allows, and to send the strongest message possible that our democracy is strong and that a president cannot advance an agenda, or succeed for very long, without the support of the American people.
While I am hopeful that Mr. Trump will hear our message and moderate both his rhetoric and his agenda, if past is prologue, and it usually is, I have good cause to remain deeply skeptical.
But my promise to you, as the representative of Ventura County and as a member of one of the equal branches of government, is that I will work with the Trump Administration when it benefits my constituents, and I will fight with every bone in my body when it does not.
With all of the uncertainty a Trump presidency brings, I wholeheartedly agree with President Obama’s remarks at his final press conference: “at my core, I think we're going to be OK. We just have to fight for it. We have to work for it and not take it for granted. And I know that you will help us do that.”
Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, is a member of Congress, representing the 26th District.