If you’re like the nearly 63 million people (and counting) who are feeling some combination of disappointment, despair, or fear about the results of the presidential election, you’re probably wondering what you can do now to avoid rolling back so much hard fought progress. In the first week alone, there have been spikes in hate crimes and elected officials implicitly endorsing racist speech, and that doesn’t even include the concerning things Donald Trump himself has done. In response, so many people have come up with great recommendations for how to move forward and what we, as Americans, can do to protect our country and its citizens. I thought it would be helpful to aggregate them all in one place. But first, a little perspective to set the scene…
How Did We Get Here?
We’re still mid-analysis on this, but a quick summary of a few of the factors include:
- Misinformation in the form of insufficient fact-checking by the media during the campaign season, particularly during debates. The spread of fake, false, or purposely misleading news and news sites. Effectively leading to a discounting of facts over feelings.
- The assumption that xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, and racist remarks made by a candidate would immediately disqualify him in the eyes of the preponderance of Americans.
- A miscalculation of the drive and volume of anti-establishment sentiment, one of many factors where Democrats didn’t accurately have their finger on the pulse of all Americans.
This isn’t to say that these were the most important factors — to be clear, there were many — but these are the factors that are germane to the recommendations below. I think they’re important to call out as we look to the future and how to best impact it.
What Can We Do Right Now?
There are two approaches that can be taken to more immediately rectify the situation:
- Influence the Electoral College (EC) voters — The electors cast their vote on December 19th. They traditionally vote for whomever their constituents have voted for in the election, but they don’t have to. They can technically vote however they want. Details on this are explained here. Call or contact the electors, listed in this article, to implore them to become a ‘faithless voter’ and cast a vote for Hillary instead of Trump. A website, Ask the Electors, has been created to easily send an email to the electors asking them to consider casting their vote for Hillary Clinton. So far, at least six electors have vowed to cast ballots against their state’s popular vote. Progress is being made; change is possible.
- Help Democrat Foster Campbell win Louisiana’s Senate seat — The race for Louisiana Senator hasn’t ended and if Foster Campbell wins, it will help balance out control of the Senate. This would help to create some sort of buffer for a check & balance in our government. One way to help is by donating to his campaign.
These are both varying degrees of long shots, but if you’re riled up and really want to do all you can to try to prevent Trump from being our next president, these are most likely your best and only options.
What Can We Continuously Do?
There’s a broad range of things that can be done on a regular basis, with varying levels of commitment, cost, or effort. I’ve tried to provide a number of options and have listed them more or less in order of least to most effort. Here’s what you can do to help preserve the country we have:
- Seek to Understand — What became clear from this election is that our country is more divided than most Americans thought. We’ve all become victims of our own echo chambers. Talk to people with different opinions than yours. Try to understand the motivations of people with different perspectives and experiences than yours. Part of this involves demonstrating your values to those with different views of the world. You can start at home by convincing conservative family members, particularly as most of us head home for the holidays. There’s a great Vox article on ways to reduce racial bias. And a helpful guide for “How to talk to your loved ones about a Donald Trump presidency” has been created for you to use.
- Be an Ally — Given the post-election spike in hate crimes, one of the most important things we can do is be allies to those who could be victims of these acts. If you see someone being victimized by racism, sexual harassment, homophobia, or xenophobia, stand up and step in. We need to support each other. The only way to overcome negative behaviors is through persistent vigilance. Check out this video, made post-Brexit, which outlines 5 ways to disrupt racism.
- Boycott — A simple, yet passive, way to make a difference is to avoid spending money on brands or companies that support causes counter to your beliefs. For instance, you can boycott products, hotels, venues, companies, etc. that Donald Trump and his surrogates own.
- Donate — Throughout the campaign, Trump and the GOP have mentioned plans to reduce spending or eliminate programs that many citizens rely on. One way to counter these cuts is to support nonprofits that can fill in the gaps that the new administration may create. This article identifies a few relevant nonprofits worth donating to. A website, Holy Fuck the Election, was also created that helps you easily identify nonprofits based on your interests by answering a few questions.
- Volunteer — In addition to donating, you could also support nonprofits by volunteering. I typically prefer to add more value by contributing in a way that leverages a skill I have rather than simply being a body doing labor. For instance, if you’re a web developer, you could offer to work on a project that helps the nonprofit collect more donations through their website.
- Support Sound Institutions — To counteract the spread of fake news and misinformation that was so prevalent during the campaign, we need to place a renewed emphasis on the importance of journalism. Subscribe (in print or digital) to legitimate journalism institutions to support the free press that will examine and question the actions of the new administration and focus on facts, not feelings. Be mindful of the content you consume and the sources that you go to for news. Commit to not reading, supporting, or sharing media outlets that trade in clickbait, false news, propaganda, or that blatantly disregard facts. These media outlets exist on both the left and the right. A google doc was created with a list of sites that should be avoided based on these criteria. There’s also a browser extension that will warn you of fake news sites. And within Facebook, you can block certain news sites (assuming they have a presence on Facebook) from appearing in your news feed — simply click the arrow next to an article that someone has posted and select “Hide all from [news site]”.
- Become More Engaged in Government — Ultimately, we can’t and won’t make progress unless we’re fully engaged in the political process. That means understanding who your representatives are at the local, state, and national level. It requires learning, based on the issues that you care about, which bills are up for a vote. And ultimately, connecting, ideally in person or by phone, and to a lesser extent through snail mail and email, with your representatives and their staff to make your voice, concerns, and interests heard. For some perspective on this, a former congressional staffer explains how to make your congressman listen to you. And someone else created a step by step calling sheet with sample messaging by topic, and the phone numbers of each congressional representative. Another site, Flippable, has been created to give you “regular actions you can take to help us win back our country, one seat at a time.”
It all starts with baby steps. Identify what you can, and are willing to, do now and just start. I’ve slowly begun to chip away at this list by donating to causes I care about, paying for subscriptions to The New York Times and The Economist, understanding the challenges of the white working class, and blocking fake news sites from my Facebook feed. I’ve written to the Electoral College voters imploring them to cast their vote for the candidate who won the national popular vote, Hillary Clinton, and I’ve donated to Foster Campbell’s campaign. And while I recognize that there is still a lot more I can do, these simple acts were the easiest for me to get started with.
If we all strive to be more informed, more engaged, and hold our public officials more accountable, we can work to ensure that the progress we’ve made for citizens of the United States isn’t erased.
If you have any additional ideas for actions that can be taken, please share them as comments below.