By Mandi Donohue

On Dec. 15, 2016, Charlie Sykes, a conservative American political commenter out of Milwaukee, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times that I highly recommend called “Where the Right Went Wrong.” As a woman that has been conservative more years than not, this article spoke deeply to me. While the radio host left his post late last year for personal reasons, he mentions in this article that this year’s election made the decision easier: “The conservative media is broken and the conservative movement is deeply compromised.”

He then writes the following: “How had we gotten here? One staple of every radio talk show host was, of course, the bias of the mainstream media. This was, indeed, a target-rich environment. But as we learned this year, we had succeeded in persuading our audiences to ignore and discount any information from the mainstream media. Over time, we’d succeeded in delegitimizing the media altogether — all the normal guideposts were down, the referees discredited.” He then goes on to say, summing up my sentiments exactly, “We destroyed our own immunity to fake news, while empowering the worst and most reckless voices on the right.”

On Saturday, I got to march with over 600 of you in celebration of women’s rights, human rights and civil rights. It was inspired, hopeful and positive — truly joyful. When I got home I watched millions on television, and through my Facebook feed, sharing the same spirited unity. It was astounding. 

Sunday was a different story. According to the next day’s Facebook feed, a group of “unhappy liberal women” took to the streets in protest, wearing vulgar vagina hats obsessed with a certain word, leaving Washington looking like a landfill, saying women rights solely revolve around abortion; Madonna threatened to blow up the White House; and Rush Limbaugh posted that a woman tried to set a pro-life woman on fire while chanting “Love Trumps Hate.” Seriously?

I could tell you things that are grossly common sense. I could tell you that Madonna is being Madonna and it’s obvious she has no plans to blow up the White house. I could tell you that women left posters outside Trump Hotel as a message to his administration. I could tell you that no one agrees with acts of vandalism and rioting at inaugurations. I could tell you that I don’t agree with anger when preaching love. No one wants to hear this, however, because it’s more reactionary and divisive to make it “a thing” and jump on the “I’m right” bandwagon of choice.

Instead, I beg of us to be smarter. Our pledge of allegiance is as follows: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” We all repeat it. Do we all believe it? Is there room for both God and our liberties? Supposedly that is what makes us indivisible. Be smarter than the “things” that are being created to divide us. Be smarter than staged videos aimed to create anger. I am grateful to the Charlie Sykes for having the brave eyes to see it and the mouth to speak it. I’m also grateful to Mo Kelley-Asker and Ann Glidden, “straight white Christian women” who are “heartbroken” (according to the sign they carried) but were at the March on Saturday, building bridges rather than walls with their sincere prayers of unity.