The “Now what?” chronicles: Tip #1 — support the free press

Trump won. We grieved. We denied it, got angry, and bargained. We were depressed — really depressed — and then, finally, we accepted it.

Or maybe some of us didn’t, or aren’t that far along yet. This is for those who, in the spirit of Leslie Knope, haven’t gotten to that acceptance stage, and maybe won’t ever.

And maybe that’s good. Because while I’ve had a couple people on both sides of the political chasm suggest that those who don’t like it can leave, I’m not going anywhere. Not now, when there’s so much work to be done, when I can’t stomach any kind of acceptance of what we’ve done. Especially as a white woman, part of the very group that helped raise up a racist sexual predator to the highest office in the nation, I feel very strongly that I need to fight back and stand up for the people and values that I believe in, the ones we all fear will be under siege soon, and for a long time to come.

But first, we need a plan. One that has practical steps for bolstering our allies, mobilizing our own communities, and otherwise getting our act together to fight this scourge that has made us strangers in our own worlds.

Because to me, that’s the worst part about it, this very visceral feeling-like-a-stranger-in-my-own-country, feeling totally alienated and terrified of what’s coming next. Actually, the worst part about it was the first time I fully internalized — thanks to Courtney Parker West’s moving piece — that a lot of people feel this way all the time.

I realize that that statement might cause face palms for those of you who OF COURSE have been scared, alienated, and left feeling like a stranger, maybe many times before, or even all the time. I get that. I also get that I’ve experienced a life of relative privilege. And while I’ve always known that, I’ve never really understood it until now.

In the same way, I’ve felt real sympathy for oppressed groups and minorities, and donated to causes that fight for their rights, and spoken against threats to their dignity and freedom. But I’ve never truly felt this deep empathy, wasn’t able to to, until Tuesday, the 8th of November, when someone who hates me for who I am was elected as our president. I get it now. I’m embarrassed that it took so long, and something so drastic, to move me to real empathy, but here I am. Talking to other white women, a lot of them feel similarly embarrassed, but ready. So here we are.

This series — of tips and tricks for actually doing something about it — is for those of us who just figured it out, as well as those who have known what this feels like all along, and everyone else who wishes a better future than the shitstorm headed our way at 150mph. Because wishing and hoping aren’t enough, and it’s time to get our asses in gear and do something.

“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” — Clementine Paddleford

Tip #1: Support the free press

Independent media outlets are the public’s source of truth, and they’ve been getting a bad rap lately.

Even liberals are blaming the media for not predicting the eventual Trump victory. The existence of a ‘journalism bubble’ is only accurate in that everyone, and I think even Trump supporters, was taken by surprise on election night. With the Clinton 1-point win in the popular vote, national polls ended up being well within the margin of error.

So while it’s fair to be a little miffed that this snuck up on all of us, it’s time to let go of that grudge and remember the huge importance a free press has within a (semi-)democratic society.

Independent media breaks big stories on everything from the mass emigration to Europe to the spread of Zika. Those big stories are vital, yes, but our country’s journalists also do countless hours of thankless grunt work to provide us with the information we need to form our own opinions. That’s arguably just as important as the big breaks.

Take David Farenthold, the Washington Post reporter, for example. Farenthold spent two weeks calling every charitable organization in the New York Metro area to see if Trump was a donor. Two weeks of phone calls. That’s real journalism: tedious, thorough, and essential to keeping our leaders honest.

And the free press may very well face much more dire threats under a trump administration. As a candidate, trump repeatedly accused the “mainstream media” of inaccuracy, corruption, and even purposefully interfering with the election. At his rallies he called for “open season” on journalists, singling them out by name for ‘negative’ pieces they had written, intimidating them — or trying to — with the power of his pulpit.

It’s not inconceivable to think that under such a president, the media splits in two — a “certified” wing consisting of Fox, Brietbart, and the like vs. the outlets that didn’t appease his every whim. AKA the rest of the media. He’s already not allowing press in on his post-election, pre-inauguration movements, going against a long-standing tradition. An already opaque figure without the checks of a free press is (even more) dangerous.

And the news media is struggling economically, having trouble finding ways to monetize their publications in a world of free, — and unvetted — “news” from social media, hack reporters, and more. So now is the time to step and support the sources of real, objective news. It might be a rare commodity in the future.

What does this mean in practice?

Subscribe to your local newspaper

Subscribe to your favorite national newspapers

Donate to or volunteer for your local NPR station

Support the news podcasts you listen to

My partner Austin and I have subscribed to the San Jose Mercury News, our local paper of choice. We signed up for the New York Times digital subscription, and are already long-time supporters of KQED, the Bay Area’s NPR station. Next, we’ll be donating to the podcasts where we get a large part of our news — Slate’s Political Gabfest, for sure, and maybe one or two others we value.

If you can afford it, don’t wait until tomorrow. Tap into that anger, that despair, and act now. Protect our sources of unbiased news while they still exist, so we have sources of truth to rely on in the coming fight.

More tips for weatherproofing your communities for the shitstorm that’s approaching coming soon. Please leave your own in the comments, too.

With input from Austin Smith