Since the election on November 7th, I’ve felt fear, despair, and disgust…interchangeably! I’ve been searching for a way to help create change and finally found it last night at a meeting of California’s Courage Campaign. As a courageous (albeit frightened) warrior, I want to write about what I/we can do to turn things around. I believe our country is in great danger. I need to act rather than feel and be useless. I also need to find the humor and the spiritual connections in all of this. My intent is to do several things: first, I will advise of actions we all can take. Mostly, these actions require very little time and commitment other than to just make the calls or write the emails. Second, I’ll share calls for actions from others. Finally, I’ll add pieces from thoughtful, smart people who care about our future.
The first piece to share is an excerpt from Nadine Smith of Equality Florida who offers steps we might take to regain control of our spaces.
What we can do
Nadine Smith, Equality Florida
We are in a dangerous moment right now in this gap between the election and inauguration day. It is a dangerous moment because it has a lulling effect. The TV still works, the ebb and flow of daily life continues and President Obama remains a comforting presence in the White House. Things look the same and the wheels have not come entirely off the wagon…yet. This calm before the storm can trick us into indulging in magical thinking:
“It won’t be that bad. He met with Al Gore and that actor who loves the environment, right? America is still essentially the same. Besides, there really isn’t much we can do or someone somewhere would have done it.”
The unsettling preview of a Trump presidency his cabinet picks has provided is nothing compared to the brutal reality of it actually arriving next month. He and his fact-free administration will act as though they have a mandate (from God if not the voters.) He has surrounded himself with white power fanatics, Christian Dominionists, and other zealots who believe they are anointed by God to reclaim America for white Christian families headed by godly men with obedient wives.
Do not believe they are incompetent to execute their plans because they are “in over their heads.” They have no intention of playing by rules of law or custom. It will be 100 days of shock and awe. They intend to break as much as they can and leave us scrambling from one fire to the next.
They hope to goad us into violence. They want to fight us on that field. In addition to an assault on free speech, they will deepen the call to mob violence among their supporters as an arm of enforcing their politics and policies. They will cultivate racial and religious division. Violence of any sort allows them to restrict, inflame, instill fear and divide.
In the face of that, you will be heartbroken by the willingness to fall in line of some folks you thought would fight back. Some of the people whose anti-Trump posts you have shared before and since the election will change their tone and renounce their critiques when the power dynamic recalibrates their personal risk/reward formula.
And as much as I loathe what they may unleash domestically, the greatest danger is entrusting a nuclear arsenal to an insecure, unstable, thin-skinned liar who thrills at hurting people he thinks have slighted him. That racists and Russian handlers may guide his trigger finger is all the more catastrophic. The stakes are higher than ever for all of us, for our children and grandchildren and our planet.
So, what must we do?:
Remember, the majority of voters rejected Trump. Hillary Clinton received more votes than President Obama did in 2012. Beyond that, third party candidates garnered a larger than usual slice. Trump will assume office with the lowest approval rating in history. It is important to remember and remind each other of this fact.
Confront Bigotry, Every Time. First and foremost we cannot give an inch to those who feel empowered to unleash hate violence toward immigrants, religious or racial minorities, women, the disabled, etc. In every city, we need people who will denounce the act publicly, clean up the graffiti, sweep up the broken glass, go to the hospital, write letters to the editor, sit with the family… whatever it takes to say this is not acceptable and you are not alone. They seek to isolate and divide and make us fear each other. We have to have a strategy that becomes a habit to counter that. Otherwise, the stories we share of hate violence serve to instill terror, not resolve. Do it even when you are tired or you’ve had a rough day and think you’ve done enough. Be visible as a person committed to standing up to bigotry and street harassment and violence. @SafetyPinBlue is one campaign and there are others. The point is it will become harder to stand up and you must cultivate courage.
Engage in Mass Public Resistance. Yes, march on DC, not just once. But march on the state capital too. Show up like never before to press local elected leaders to oppose monstrous policies. We need to have an American Uprising that signals to the world this is an aberration that will not stand.
Leverage our Economic Clout Boycotts brought down Apartheid and Jim Crow. Those of us who reject Trump have enormous economic clout and we are damned fools if we don’t use it right now. Don’t give money to those who are organizing to take away your liberty, your rights, your safety and that of your neighbors. This is an area our organizations need to show more leadership on and we as individuals must have the discipline make our message clear. The EPA may gut environmental policies but we can punish those who continue to endanger our planet and we can reward green innovators. They may repeal hard fought civil rights protections but we can refuse to buy from retailers and producers who discriminate.
Crowd source a safety net We will need to look out for each other. If they proceed with their plans, the government will abandon its duty “to provide for the general welfare” of the people. Vital services will be cut. Healthcare gutted. Children will go to school hungry with no meal made available. We can’t replace an entire government infrastructure but we have resources. Volunteer and donate to organizations that provide food, shelter and health care to those in need. Grow food. Share more. We will need to look out for each other. Commit to non-cooperation with evil. Don’t help. Challenge. Oppose. Resist. Speak up. Go on strike. Gum up the works in ways public and private. Don’t help oil the machinery of fascism.
Who brought Trump to power?
Third party spoilers?
Bernie Bro hubris?
Hillary campaign smugness?
White identity politics?
A protest vote gone awry?
We need to form deeper alliances beyond Left and Right politics with the army of people, including many who voted for Trump but are about to get hit. “I told you so” is not a strategy and indulging in schadenfreude will doom us all.
And building community is also about building the community of friends and mentors and nourishing yourself with art and music and joy and love. Be there for fellow resisters. Hug, laugh, strategize, commiserate. Be kind. Don’t spiral into despair.
It is easy to become the frog, slowly boiled a degree at a time as we are pressured to accept as normal what ought to be unthinkable. Each of these strategies could be a post in and of itself. Turning them from an outline into action will require us to work and brainstorm together.
I hope you’ll add your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and suggestions for change. I look forward to taking this journey with you. Be sure to check my FB page for other actions.