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An optimist after all

When it comes to policy, America’s two political parties are engaged in a messy shouting match. But, from the Dreamers to the #MeToo movement and the Parkland students, a new generation of leaders offers a refreshing moral clarity. They will save us.
Jorge Ramos is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and Univision news anchor.
Emma González on stage with Parkland students and other young activists at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington DC, March 24, 2018. Crédito: Getty Images

First, the bad news. The United States is “united” in name only. Sometimes it seems that we are two completely different nations locked in never-ending conflict.

I’ve just been to Los Angeles — for the most part a liberal, pro-immigrant, anti-Trump stronghold — where resistance to Washington has become a point of pride for many, and where the police seem to have no interest in pretending that they are immigration agents. But as soon as you leave the island that is California, things change dramatically.

Polls provide evidence that ours is an almost broken country. Most of the Republicans who voted for President Donald Trump will vote for him again in 2020, even though at a recent rally in Mississippi, Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford, who had claimed that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her decades ago. This is not a humorous matter, yet Trump’s audience laughed and jeered.

Meanwhile, Democrats still don’t understand that merely being anti-Trump isn’t enough to win the next presidential election. They must stand for something, and that something isn’t very clear to the electorate just yet.

In my 35 years living in the United States, I have never seen such anti-immigrant sentiment sweep the country, from the Trump administration’s arbitrary reduction of legal asylum-seekers and visas to the separation of children from their parents at the border. Today there are still dozens of children who haven’t been reunited with their parents, many of whom have already been deported. It’s hard to be optimistic about the country’s future.

When it comes to policy, it’s as if America’s two political parties are having a dialogue and drowning each other out. One demands a wall, more agents and a hard line against immigration; the other advocates for the legalization of undocumented immigrants and the humane treatment of refugees. Meanwhile, the border is mired in paralysis and chaos, and officials are operating under a failed immigration policy.

Now the good news. Our young daughters and sons are, thankfully, acting like much better citizens than we are. The Dreamers, the survivors of the Parkland massacre in Florida and the women who have given rise to the #MeToo movement are sick of traditional political parties and are not waiting their turn to have influence any longer. Without asking for permission, they’re advocating for change and creating solutions to all the issues that older Americans have been unable to address.

Congress has not updated immigration laws in over three decades. The “Dreamers” — young undocumented immigrants brought here when they were children — have taken the lead in advocating for change. It never ceases to amaze me how leaders within the Dreamers’ organizations can have a much clearer vision of how to solve immigration problems than many members of the House or the Senate.

The same can be said about the student survivors of the shooting in a Parkland high school, in which 17 people were killed. While America becomes more accustomed to these types of tragedies, the students from Parkland said: Enough! I’m certain that they will not stop their activism until they achieve some sort of gun control legislation. There’s nothing more unrelenting than a group of teenagers with an idea in their heads.

There’s more. Thanks to the courage of thousands of women, sexual harassment and gender discrimination have turned into the most relevant political and personal issues of our time. The outrage and resolve of the #MeToo movement have shaken this country’s outdated patriarchal structures.

This new generation of leaders can broadcast its message loud and clear through social media. In fact, this is perhaps the first generation that can employ technology more effectively than the one that preceded it.

If the future of the United States is in the hands of leaders from the #MeToo movement, the Parkland survivors, the Dreamers — or activists from the LatinX, LGBTQI and environmental groups — we can be confident that they will do the right thing. Their moral clarity is refreshing when compared to the ethical mess that Trump and some of his followers have created since his election.

If you’re a parent, you should take comfort in the fact that we must have done something right for our daughters and sons to grow to be such rebellious, enterprising and proactive people. They will save us.

And that’s why I’m actually optimistic about this country’s future.