So Donald Trump is now the president of the United States. That means he is my president. It makes me feel sick and on the verge of tears, but, despite the fact that he lost the popular vote, that’s the reality of the situation.
I realize this is a travel blog, and I promise that this will be my only political post on this particular platform. But I have thousands of readers, and I am going to assume at least some of you are grieving, just like I am, for the loss of a country we thought we knew. I thought America was better than fear. Better than misogyny, racism, despotism and anti-intellectualism. I thought most people would see through the threats to sue media agencies and organisations, build walls, roll back environmental protections and rescind basic human rights. But the votes have been cast. What’s done is done. And while I got drunk and cried for most of yesterday, I promised myself that today, I’d take action.
If you want to, as well, here are some things I’m going to do. I’ll keep updating this post with more ideas as they come, and please feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments.
And if you supported Trump, that’s fine. To be frank, I do think anyone who voted for him either harbors the same regressive ideals he does, or is short sighted enough to feel that those can be overlooked with no consequence. Either way, I do not agree with the candidate you voted for, and I do not agree with some or perhaps all of the beliefs you therefore have. That being said, I respectfully acknowledge your right to have your opinions, and am spreading love, support and light to you, as well. I hope that you push the president you voted for to be more inclusive and tolerant, to have integrity and to make decisions based on facts and reality. I wish you well.
Now, for those who are going to fight like hell with me these next four years and beyond, here’s what we can do:
1)Write to Barack and Michelle Obama. I cannot imagine how President Obama feels right now. I wrote to him and Michelle telling them about how much they’ve inspired me and what I’m going to do to make sure that the progress they’ve made in the White House isn’t completely dismantled. They probably will never read my letter, but it was nice just to get my feelings out on paper, and who knows, a staffer or PA who really needs to read a message of support could pick it up and it could make their day. To contact President Obama, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or send him a letter at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500. You can also tweet him @POTUS.
2) Write to Hillary Clinton. Hillary’s concession speech was classy, poised and inspirational. That concession speech convinced me more than anything that she would have been an amazing president. If you have been inspired by Hillary, and her progressive work throughout the decades (not to mention the work she’s done for women everywhere), maybe take a minute to reach out. You can get in touch with Hillary Clinton by writing to Hillary for America PO Box 5256 New York, New York 10185. You can also tweet her @HillaryClinton
3) Know who represents you. Change starts in your local and state elections. If you aren’t interested in getting active in local or state politics, at least know who represents you, follow them on social media and reach out if you feel so inclined to let them know your opinion. USA.gov will also tell you about your elected officials and how to get in contact.
4) Know what the people who represent you stand for. Commoncause.org will give you information on what committees your elected officials serve on, bills they introduce and political contributions they accept. What you do with that information is obviously your choice.
5) Support progressive organizations. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of progressive organizations that we need now more than ever. They are always looking for volunteers or donations:
• American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defends individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
• Border Angels advocates immigration reform and social justice along the US-Mexico border.
• Campaign Zero advocates for policy solutions to end police violence.
• Center for Reproductive Rights is a legal advocate in securing women’s access to reproductive healthcare.
• Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization.
• EarthJustice is an environmental law organization that protects wildlife and advocates cleaner energy options.
• National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) promotes civil rights for people of color and is working to eliminate race-based discrimination.
• NextGen Climate Action works to prevent climate disaster.
• Planned Parenthood is the country’s leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider.
• She Should Run is a non-profit that aims to get women into elected leadership roles.
• Southern Poverty Law Center fights hate groups and bigotry through education, litigation and advocacy.
6) Teach. Education can combat a lot of the misinformation and falsities spread in this election. I personally volunteer as a professor at a free (but accredited!) online university, University of the People. There are other online universities out there, and tons of organizations that offer adult and continuing education classes that you can support through volunteerism or donations.
7) Read, read and read more. Be aware. Be vigilant. Read up to you are well informed. Some of my personal favourite sources for snarky but informative material include Jezebel, BuzzFeed and Mother Jones.
8) Reach out. So many people feel alone and isolated right now. So reach out and let people know how you feel. Tell them you’re thinking of them, and supporting them, and sending them love and fortitude.
9) Be tolerant. This is, admittedly for me, the hardest thing to be. There are a lot of people out there who have different ideas and ideals. The easiest way to turn them off even more is to call them names, or completely overlook any opportunities to have empathy and try to understand where they’re coming from. This is hard, and something I really have to work at. But I’m going to try. The best thing, if you don’t have something kind to say, is to say nothing at all. (Or, challenge an opinion, but do it respectfully!)
10) Plan for the future. Mid-term elections are in two years. The 2020 election will ramp up in three years. We need to be ready. Start thinking now about what you can do to get involved—maybe by taking some of the steps above, or something else.
Again, please post below if you have other suggestions. And I’m thinking of you all out there. Sending you support, love and fortitude for the times ahead.
Amendment: two more really good points (by two of the three H’s in my life) have been made:
1)Don’t just try to be tolerant, try to be empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to walk that mile. Truly put yourself in a position to understand where someone else is coming from.
2)Diversify your media and social media sources. H told me she was to rattled because she truly didn’t see this coming, because she reads things that reinforce her views, and is surrounded by people who generally think as she does. If we all branch out a little more, maybe we can bridge some of the ideological gaps and divides that separate us.
3) More Resources Here’s a few more resources (I’ll add as I go) that I’ve come across:
- Holy Fuck the Election is a great site where you can select what causes matter to you, and be presented with a list of organizations that you can donate time, money or resources to support
- A great piece on Jezebel (by a Republican staffer, which is great to see) on how to effectively lobby your congressperson. Some really great tips in here, folks.