At long last, Chelsea Handler is back and Season 2 of Chelsea on Netflix promises to be more political than ever. Season 1 placed a strong focus on the 2016 presidential race, and Handler has made clear that one of her goals this season is to get more people involved in local elections and midterms. She even learned how to use a landline in order to make phone calls on behalf of Jorge Nuño, a candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 9. Political activist and CNN commentator Van Jones appeared on the Chelsea Season 2 premiere and he has an important message for progressives as we move forward. In addition to remaining politically engaged, we need to fight for and respect all Americans — even if we're angry that they voted for Trump.
Jones pointed out that many of us perhaps failed to recognize the problems Trump voters face, and part of being a responsible, effective activist is wanting the best for everyone in the country. "If you're a coal miner and you're losing your job and your healthcare, I don't care who you voted for," he told Handler. "I'm gonna fight you on Election Day, but every other day I want to fight with you and for you."
A former member of the Obama administration, Jones recalled that Obama received a nonstop barrage of hate mail containing every horrible racist slur in the book. "You know what we called those people? Our constituents," Jones said.
He reminded viewers that Obama fought to get healthcare into red states and red counties where a lot of this hate mail was coming from — that's the movement Jones wants to be a part of, and he encourages us to do the same. We have a right to be angry at Trump and distressed by the current state of affairs, but Jones emphasized that we shouldn't let this change who we are.
"You can have a bad vote and I'm gonna stick up for you no matter what, because I don't want anyone in this country to be without dignity or respect. I'm not going to let Trump change that about me. I'm not," he stated.
America feels more divided right now that it has in most of our lifetimes — but Jones' point that we can't let this administration change our values is a crucial one. It's easier to be angry at Trump voters than it is to fight for a country that offers a level playing field for everyone, regardless of political party. The 2016 election struck a deeply personal chord for many of us, and it's been incredibly difficult to move past that.
But it's important for progressives to remember that we enthusiastically supported candidates like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders who campaigned on platforms that emphasized unity, dignity, and respect for all Americans. We can't just change our minds about those values because our candidate didn't end up in the White House.
Of course, this doesn't mean we should simply sit back and "hope for the best" — Jones emphasized that Trump has already done a great deal of damage, and he'll continue to do so. He praised the Women's Marches, the protests at airports where immigrants were detained, and the phone calls to Congress that have been effective in halting certain legislation. We need to keep up this momentum throughout the entire Trump presidency, because there are undoubtedly more horrifying policies proposals to come.
But, we can oppose and resist Trump every step of the way and still fight on behalf of all Americans. These were the values we embraced when Obama was in the White House and when we campaigned for Democrats in 2016 — now, our values are being put to the test. Jones' words encouraged me to work towards moving past my anger at the people who put Trump in office — as he said, everyone deserves dignity and respect and our time is better spent fighting to make America a better place.