Short Note on Conscience in the Trump Era

We canˋt all do everything, but we must all do something.

Daniel McNichol
Feb 5, 2017 · 4 min read

In the course of history, there are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary actions from ordinary people. Sometimes on a massive scale. In the most recent century, WWII & the Civil Rights Movement offer two such examples. History records where we stand in these moments — & if we stood at all. These become our greatest legacies and deepest disgraces. It is ours to choose which.

D-Day ( & Bloody Sunday (NBC News & New York Times)

Conscience & Moral Imperative in the Trump Era

I’m increasingly convinced that every person of conscience & sound morals in this moment must defer some degree of our self-interest & personal priorities to work to oppose the relentless onslaught of callous, hateful policies & pronouncements gushing forth from this administration ¹ ² ³ ⁴. For many — those directly imperiled by Trumpist malice — personal interest & self-preservation alone will necessitate such work. Those of us insulated from the most pressing dangers by privilege & fortune are all the more summoned to action, & should prioritize work that defends those most threatened by these transgressions.

At a moment of historical (if well-precedented) assaults on the norms of democracy, decency & humanity⁵, resistance can’t be left to the traditional categories of activists, opposition parties & interest groups. Opposition & resistance is morally incumbent upon anyone who regards themselves as a moral person ⁵ ⁶ ⁷.

There is more to be done, more causes requiring total commitment, than any one or many of us could possibly accomplish ⁸ ⁹. We can’t all serve the same role, in precisely the same struggle, but we all must serve some role. Inability to do everything shouldn’t paralyze us & prevent us from doing anything. The vast amount of work to do & ways to do it should make it easy for us all to find ways to contribute as we are best able & willing.

You might not be built for street protests¹⁰. You might feel like phoning detestable political representatives¹¹ is a fate worse than snakes.

There are still many ways to meet the moral obligation to oppose the unconscionable & inhumane forces gathering at our doorstep. These struggles may define this period in history⁵. For my generation, it might be the fight of our lives.

I’m ready for it.

(& will post a followup soon about my particular approaches to the present & future struggle.)

For now, here’s a short recap of ways to contribute:

  • Get out in the streets - cuz this is hard to ignore
  • Call Reps - it’s boring but works
  • Donate money - if you have more money than time
  • Donate time - if you have more time than money
  • Spread awareness - might seem trivial, but relaying, reiterating, reposting, retweeting messages of resistance has an impact ¹²
  • Vote with your feet & dollars - with all three branches of gov’t controlled by a GOP hellbent on dismantling safety net programs, financial regulations, environmental regulations, reproductive rights, worker’s rights, etc — it’s more important than ever for private citizens to build networks of mutual economic & interpersonal support ¹³. There are more of us than them. We’re our most abundant resource. We must be conscientious about where we expend our monetary & non-monetary resources. More on this soon, it will be a major focus of mine.
  • Attend community groups & meetings - related to above, but a more immediate & concrete option to build & reinforce these support networks.

Some further resources:

— — — — — — — — — — — —

…relentless onslaught of callous, hateful policies & pronouncements


…a moment of historical (if well-precedented) assaults on the norms of democracy, decency & humanity

…more to be done, more causes requiring total commitment

…might not be built for street protests

¹⁰ But I heartily recommend them for their concreteness & the sense of power & community they imbue into our otherwise isolated, atomized, often impotent lives. Also much to be said for escaping comfort zones, etc.

…detestable political representatives


…relaying, reiterating, reposting, retweeting messages of resistance has an impact


…networks of mutual economic & interpersonal support


Follow on twitter: @dnlmc

 by the author.

Daniel McNichol

Written by

Data Scientist | Analytics & Insights @ the Philadelphia Inquirer (

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