It is officially 2017. Americans are resolving to eat healthier, rev up their fitness routines, spend more time with family, and, hopefully, participate in the democratic process like never before.
Since November 8, I have endured an endless rollercoaster of emotion ―disbelief, anger, shock, despair, and embarrassment. So much embarrassment. I am not alone. Friends look sick when the topic of our president-elect comes up. Heads drop and shake in disgust. Beers are ordered. This is the new normal, and it feels like anything but.
However, for the silver-lining types out there, I feel more determined than ever. Trump won this election. We can complain about the Electoral College. Or Russia. But just complaining, on Facebook or otherwise, is not an effective resistance strategy.
I feel more determined than ever to doubt, criticize, analyze and question. I feel more determined than ever to protect progress, obstruct misogyny, and denounce bigotry.
Starting today, I am looking at my community in the context of the threats presented by this presidency. We will need to work together to protect threats against the environment, and to our LGBTQ, Muslim, and undocumented friends and neighbors. Like many others, I am going to grit my teeth, dig my heels in, and prepare for impact. We cannot walk away now. None of us can. Apathy will not protect the disenfranchised.
Based on popular vote numbers, more than half of my fellow citizens are upset by the results of this election. Some of those people are incredulously hand wringing---or worse---withdrawing into their own little worlds. This year we must resolve to be more active citizens. Several friends and acquaintances, of various political affiliations, have asked me what they can do to get involved. Here are a few ideas.
1. Vote. Not just every four years. Vote at every opportunity. School board, county commission, city council, and bonds. Vote, vote, vote. Take someone with you and vote as a family. Elections matter. If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that.
2. Volunteer. What is the issue that is most important to you? The environment, early childhood education, reproductive rights, homelessness? Choose an organization dedicated to your issue and volunteer with zeal.
3. Protest. It is your First Amendment right. Exercise it. Walking in a peaceful march sends a powerful message. It reminds us that we are not alone. We can do so much more when we are united.
4. Write and call your elected officials. Learn the names and contact information for your state and federal representatives and senators. Get into the habit of writing to them. When they consider legislation that you really care about, host a letter writing party. Call them when they are doing something right or wrong. Democratic senators will be working overtime and using procedural means to obstruct damaging legislation. Call them and say thanks. It will mean the world to both them and their staff. Believe me.
5. Be an obnoxious consumer of news, literature, and new ideas. If you don’t already subscribe to a newspaper, support a local publication. If you can afford it, subscribe to the New York Times or Washington Post. Read news from various and diverse outlets. The war on intellectualism is frightening. We cannot allow inaccurate “news” media and propaganda to have a legitimate voice in our society. Fight against it.
6. Do more than liking or sharing something on social media. This election has made me look at Facebook very differently. My newsfeed was a progressive utopia. Unfortunately, our filtered and edited newsfeeds are not the real world. We must learn how to have thoughtful discourse with those who disagree with us. This does not include sharing memes.
7. Talk to one another. Incessantly. Engage your friends and colleagues in conversation. Use your phone to invite a friend to coffee. Yes, your phone still makes calls. Talk. Connect. Even weep. Commit to doing something together and then keep one another accountable in 2017.
8. Stop saying you’re busy. Just stop. If your post-election efforts included merely expressing disbelief or despair on social media, channel that emotion. Help someone run for office. Volunteer at a local public library. Join the board of directors for a nonprofit you believe in. Take your kids to a ward meeting. You will meet incredible people. You will grow.
10. Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, for as long as you can. Because I am still with her.
Mid-term elections are less than two years from today. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves. If you haven’t already, take a last moment to grieve, cry, and take care of yourself. But, then move on and commit to action.