It’s probably no surprise that I’m disappointed by the election results and have been feeling, like so many others, that I should have done more to prevent what has happened and what is going to be happening.
I can’t change the election results, but I can take heart in the popular vote tally and in the fact that there are plenty of things I can do now to get involved and try to make a difference for the future. You can do them, too. If you supported Trump you can do these things, too.
Decide What’s Most Important
I’m not saying you can’t stand up for immigrants, the LBGTQ community, women, those who need health care, members of minority groups and all the other people who are going to need support all at once. But it is helpful if you can pick a direction of focus that will help frame the sorts of actions you will primarily take in the future.
I decided on women’s and children’s issues for myself. I’ve donated to and held signs in front of Planned Parenthood. I applied for a seat on my local library’s board, and if I don’t get it I will start volunteering there. Health care, education, equality and protection of the right to choose are all high on my list of topics I will be looking at and responding to.
That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the rest, but with all the need there is, having that focus helps me decide where I want to spend most of my energy and money.
Get Used to Contacting Your Representatives
All of my legislators are Republicans, so I’m not sure how much they actually listen to people like me, but it’s important for them to know we are here.
From what I’ve been reading phone calls to local offices are the most effective way to be heard, but you can also send emails if you can’t do phone calls. (I sent emails about Bannon this week but will probably try to do phone calls in the future.) Staffers are super busy but they won’t be mean to you, so don’t be mean to them. Tell them your opinion so they can log it and let them go.
Last night I heard that if you send emails, put your position or the action you want your representative to take (ie., vote against Jeff Sessions) in the subject line of your email. Staffers do not have time to read every email but they will add your vote to the tally that way.
This Google Doc on how and when to call your representatives, along with sample scripts, is fantastic. You don’t have to do it daily, but it should become a regular part of your life. My friend Jackie has an action email list you can subscribe to that will give you tips on what to do if you aren’t sure where to start.
Find Your People
Local groups galvanized around issues are great for support and for taking effective action as a group. Pantsuit Nation has divided up into state and local chapters (it was at a meeting of the local group last night where I heard that email tip), or you can join established groups, make your own, or even just have a group of friends you email or chat with about issues important to you. Join your county’s Democratic party or the local League of Women Voters.
These sorts of groups should provide regular calls to action on state, local and national events and legislation as well as giving you camaraderie, which is so important.
Elizabeth Warren has said that what we need to do right now is to volunteer and to stay connected to each other so that we can be ready for action when the time comes.
I think the time is already here, but she’s exactly right.
Subscribe to a Newspaper
As a person with a journalism background, I’m worried about an assault on the press coming from a Trump administration. It’s already happening with his tweets against the New York Times, his refusal to use a press pool and actual insults and threats against reporters throughout the campaign.
We need people who are paid to pay attention and tell us what’s happening more than ever.
You should subscribe to your local paper, but I think it’s a great idea to support the journalistic efforts of one of the big papers, too. (I went with a digital subscription to the New York Times, but the Washington Post has had fantastic coverage, too. And if you have a .edu, .gov or .mil email address you can get a free subscription to the Post online.)
Support good journalism by liking these organization’s Facebook pages and sharing their stories online. Think twice before sharing something if it doesn’t come from a reputable source. This Google Doc was once a list of fake/clickbait news sites; as I write it is being updated and placed in a more permanent home but for now it has tons of good tips for evaluating news sources. Here’s another list to get you started knowing what to block from your newsfeed.
Support the efforts of people to reduce the effects of misleading news, like these college students working on a browser extension to evaluate sources in real time.
The more informed we can all be as citizens, the better off our nation will be. Yes, read about politics and the issues you care about.
But also visit your local library and read whatever catches your eye. Maybe start with these. Or these. Join a book club and read and talk about books about current affairs with your friends. Read kids’ books about empathy and diversity.
Pay attention. The list of great reads is super long already, but if you need a place to start, here are a few on my list:
George Takei on Japanese internment and why we can’t let that happen to Muslims.
Nicholas Kristoff’s 12-step program for responding to Trump.
The new age of activism from Mashable.
10 ways to fight hate from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The right way to resist Trump, from an Italian who witnessed Silvio Berlusconi’s reign.
Rules for surviving an autocracy.
What are you doing these days? I’d love to hear your additions to this list (I have others, too, but whew, this is a long post already!)