A Lesson from the Resistance for Jason Madara
We are quite literally at the dawn of a new era. As of noon today The United States of America will have a new President and not everyone is happy about it. It’s not just that one side won and the other lost, but many who voted against the President-Elect of the United States, Donald Trump, did so because they were offended by his actions, words, or proposed policies. Now that he’s set to take over leadership of the free world, there are those who would continue to oppose him, to resist him and what he stands for. These people are The Resistance. It’s a growing movement in American politics, a movement that’s becoming more organized and more vocal as the weeks go by - but not everyone is seeing it happen in broad daylight - it’s still new.
Jason Madara and his studio mate George McCalman spent the first couple weeks after the election consoling each other and trying to figure out what to do with their experience, and to see if they could channel into something constructive. “I was trying to figure out many ways to deal with how a wreck I was and how everybody’s been a wreck afterwards thinking that we’re living in some nightmare, and then San Francisco Magazine approached George and I with this project,” Jason says. “And it took me a millisecond to say yes.” They asked him and George to photograph the growing resistance to Donald Trump. But it wouldn’t just be a couple photographs slapped together for a cute story. This was an expansive project with 40 subjects and a veritable portfolio. The Magazine wasn’t playing around.
“It was a very emotional journey because we’re photographing all these people in our studio which was amazing,” Jason says. “We’re talking about how to deal with this, and I have Nancy Pelosi in the studio and talking to her about all this, and Dianne Feinstein, and Gavin Newsom, and all these great people that are coping with is just as we are, and trying to make sense of it.” These are some of the best liberal political minds of our era, and Jason and George got to pick their brains about what was next, what they could do, and also spent more than a little time commiserating in their disappointment.
So what did he learn from these expert community organizers?
“We have to be resilient to this, we have to grow from this and be strong from this. We can’t just be doom and gloom every day because that’s not going to help anybody,” Jason says. “Yes, everyone’s angry but that’s not going to help change… We stand up and we come together and we fight together and we do whatever we need to do. That is resilience.”
Resilience is action, resilience is getting back into the fight once you’ve been knocked down.
Jason and George didn’t get to photograph everyone they wanted because some of their dream subjects had already gotten back into the ring. “The one person we didn’t get to photograph is Kamala Harris, she’s California’s newest senator and I get it. I wasn’t thrilled at first that she couldn’t pose for us, but I get it. She’s busy fighting. That is more important. And we didn’t get Jerry Brown because he doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to be in a photo, he just wants to keep fighting. I get that.”
But they did get Tom Steyer, Black Lives Matter organizers, London Breed, women from Dream SF, running the gamut from all walks, all experiences, all influences. It brought the scope into perspective, something that was crucial for Jason, especially when the topics came home.
“You know one of the hardest things about the next day after the election was telling my 9-year-old daughter that Hillary didn’t win. I said ‘Well, Hillary won the popular vote,’ so she asked ‘Well then why can’t she President?’ I had to explain to her that it’s not all bad, the world is not bad, because I still believe that most people are good, I really do believe that,” says Jason. “When you get to do a project like this, it just feels really personal.”
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, things are changing all around us all. As a new politics rises in The White House there are loud voices rising outside ready to resist, preparing for every move and counter move. And this month, in the pages of San Francisco Magazine, thanks to Jason Madara and George McCalman, we see the first class of this Resistance.