The last day of the Obama presidency is something that will resonate in years to come. It will be viewed as the moment before a dramatic shift took place. The policies of a progressive and thoughtful Obama administration are soon to transfer power to the knee-jerk, hard-right conservative policies of the incoming Trump administration. This day feels like the calm before the storm, where the inevitable is about to occur and there is not much that can be done to stop it. It is a mournful time for progressives, liberals, and forward thinkers who have worked hard under the Obama administration to make positive changes in the lives of many Americans.

An understandable fear has developed towards the Trump administration policies undoing a lot of the good work that has been done over the last eight years. One of the policies that a fair majority of Americans fear seeing regress instead of progress is a successful vote and presidential signing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, something that a high percentage of Americans would like to keep and improve upon. Mr. Trump had campaigned with one of his slogan being to repeal and replace the Obamacare; and, with a Congress that has voted on numerous occasions to try and do just that, it appears to be something on the horizon.

Another fear is of the various cabinet picks who may be nominated. Mr. Trump has expressed doubts about the EPA and with global warming. Who is to say he will not select someone who has major issues with the EPA to essentially make the agency “toothless.” Additionally, while Mr. Trump continues to say he will “drain the swamp,” it appears that he has cozied himself to many of the millionaires and billionaires who have been placing money in his campaign coffers, potentially setting up a millionaires/billionaires club of agency heads.

A third and highly publicized fear is regarding Mr. Trump’s position towards immigration and those living currently in the country illegally. Mr. Trump made a major slogan of his campaign to “build the wall,” and nothing has indicated that his plans have changed. He also had spoken very negatively about immigrants to the United States who may be Muslim (proposing a ban at one point), and was highly skeptical of allowing Syrian refugees to have a haven of the United States to escape the atrocities that go on in Syria daily.

Although the list could go on and on, the last fear that has really taken to the airwaves is Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia and specifically Vladimir Putin. The contradictions between denial to admission, along with the apparent interference by Russia in the election process itself really calls into question Mr. Trump’s ability to faithfully execute the laws of our country, and should be investigated further.

When thinking of President Obama, it is very easy to describe, but too numerous to list all the great feats Mr. Obama accomplished during the past eight years. As the first African American President of the United States, he was and will continue to be a champion for African Americans and for all minorities who for many years felt the pains of marginalization, racism, and oppression. The following are examples of the work President Obama completed: for Latinos, he showed compassion for children of illegal immigrants (through DACA), for the LGBTQ community he got rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and pushed for marriage equality, and for African Americans he stood beside the victims of police brutality and racially-charged vigilante violence, such as the murder of Trayvon Martin.

We, as Americans, are about to embark on a four-year term with a thin-skinned, reactionary. The next President of the United States is a sad 180-degree shift from the things accomplished over the last eight years. This man, who is about to take the highest office in the land and become leader of the free world appears to be more concerned with Saturday Night Live and tweeting about what is going on in Hollywood than with making sure he has the correct intelligence from his advisers to guide the most powerful military in the world. Mr. Trump also appears unable to distance himself from advisers who can be viewed as no less than racist, xenophobic, nationalistic, white supremacists. Of these deplorable men and women, are none other than Steve Bannon, General Flynn, and the former/current chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Preibus. Each of these men have shown, in overt or discrete fashion, a disdain for the poor, minorities, or anyone not sharing the hard-right Conservative point of view.

As the Trump presidency begins, it is more imperative to band together as one America, and stand against the administrations attempts to diminish specific groups of people. We must choose the battles wisely, not being distracted by the sideshows and slights of hand. Rather, we must ensure that all eyes our focused firmly on Mr. Trump and his colleagues on the major issues of individual rights and liberties, foreign policies, and domestic policies to ensure that none of the horrific ideas that have been floated will ever take form; and, if some of the terrible policies do come to pass, it is important to hold all parties accountable who have taken part in passing a law or de-regulating strategy, so that we know who to vote out in 2018 and 2020. By making a smart resistance, our voices will be heard, and change can still happen for the good.

Nate Ayala