America: So, What Now?
We will soon be witnessing Donald Trump in the White House, much to the shock and anger of millions; and many from both the left and the center (and even quite a few from the right) are wondering what the next two-to-four years will bring. It took the man only a few weeks as President-elect, still well before inauguration, to spark a handful of controversies, including a confused and muddled foray into crony capitalism, a number of petulant and reactionary statements on twitter, and several notable diplomatic missteps with Pakistan and India, the Philippines, and China and Taiwan. These errors have proven his poor grasp of even the most basic and long-standing aspects of international relations; meanwhile, his domestic policy concepts are improbable at best (and outright destructive at their worst).
So, what now?
Barring something extraordinary from the in-motion multi-state recounts that have been engineered by the Jill Stein campaign, or a historic and unexpected rejection from the electoral college, Trump is going to be the 45th President come January 20, 2017. For those that are offended by his narrow vision for America, there must be growth in focused, unyielding activism and coordinated organization in order to leverage public pressure, calculated outreach, and intelligent, defensible positions to achieve results.
And, of course, select, groom, and support candidates for 2018 and 2020.
In the immediate days and months ahead, it is critical that we bolster the efforts of already organized movements set to be on the front lines against the next administration. This is best accomplished with charitable giving and volunteering, which fortunately has already been found in spades. For those of you whom have not yet given, or wish to give a little more, here is my shortlist of relevant favorites (although there are many other worthy options that I could have listed, so don’t feel constrained):
- ACLU (including your local affiliate)
- Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Center for Reproductive Rights
- Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry
- NRDC, 350.org, 100.org, and Citizens Climate Lobby
Next, it is critical that the opposition continue to provide support for high-quality journalism, especially for those that depend on subscription revenue and have a long-standing history of excellent coverage. I will list my favorites, but I encourage you to also support your local paper:
- New York Times (the gold standard)
- Washington Post (home of David Fahrenthold)
- Newsweek (home of Kurt Eichenwald)
- Los Angeles Times
- Boston Globe
- ProPublica (non-profit)
Once we have donated and subscribed, thereby contributing to a stronger legal and advocacy network, and to incisive, investigatory news coverage, we need to move onto outreach and activism. This can take many forms; the most immediately effective is direct contact with elected officials. Staffers favor phone calls as most impactful, with mail to follow, and e-mail a distant third. So pick up the phone and tell your representatives, your governor, your state legislators, and your city councilors how you feel on the issues:
And make calling and letter-writing a regular feature of your schedule. Maintain the appropriate tone, but never lessen the application of pressure. Where appropriate, coordinate outreach campaigns when the situation calls for it (such as when a bill or an appointment is under consideration).
There is also some value in group efforts (protests, vigils, and marches) when there is a recognizable and defined objective. Undirected gatherings, however, can run the risk of being perceived as mere noise or for the sake of vanity, and it can be difficult to know if and when you have achieved success (although solidarity campaigns, like the Million Women March, can serve a strong purpose when coupled with a clear message). So be cautious when gathering and applying the pressure of the visible masses.
And finally, of course, we must all get in touch with the local and national chapters of political groups and movements that best align with our vision for the world. For those that stand with the progressive left, like myself, it is time to work aggressively within the Democratic Party, and neighboring institutions (like the Progressive Democrats of America) so that we can lend our voices and energies to the long task of defending liberal measures, and promoting and directing efforts that will elect the next round of candidates at the local, state, and national levels (with an emphasis on the local and the state levels, which are domains of governance that are all to often overlooked). If there is a particular candidate that you prefer, be sure to reach out to them directly and offer assistance.
My shortlist of local groups, sourced from Boston and Massachusetts:
- Massachusetts Democratic Party
- Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts
- Progressive Massachusetts
- Young Democrats of Massachusetts
- College Dems of MA (for those of the right age)
And, of course, there many non-partisan political and legal organizations, both local and national, that work within political institution and courts to further specific causes and candidates. My personal recommendations:
And for those who align to the right yet remain unhappy with the vision and temperament of the President-elect, I encourage you to work with your local institutions and leaders (the state chapter of the GOP, and your elected official) to try and reform the Republican party from within, from the bottom-up, to reject Trumpism and rediscover genuine conservatism.
It can be tempting, in the face of a devastating loss and the overwhelming emotion, to surrender into despair; but now, more than ever, is the time for steel resolve and unforgiving enthusiasm. The next few years promise to be a great challenge — culturally, politically, and reputationally — for those who align with the left and the center (and, given the purported agenda of the President-elect, even with those aligned with the right), but the American experiment only survives and thrives when the people refuse to accept the unacceptable, and never relinquish their voice and stand.
Be bold, be strong, be relentless.