WHAT TO DO
Read this, share it, e-mail it to everyone you know, print it out, hand it out on the street, meme-ify it, disseminate it everywhere you go. Most importantly, CARRY OUT WHAT IT CHARGES YOU TO DO. Start immediately. Start today. We have very little time. There is no grown-up in charge. No one is coming. We are the grown-ups and we are our own rescuers. And to WHITE PEOPLE SPECIFICALLY, this is our fault, we have put millions of lives at risk (potentially billions, if you account for the biosphere), and we have to put in the work to fix it. From a friend who asked not to be identified:
“A few suggestions for people:
I feel the bottom line for America is that everyone will have to be more political. And that this will last the rest of our lives. We have to understand that America has been lucky, not special, to avoid the degree of misrule that is coming, and that volunteering for the occasional candidate or sitting out the occasional election can’t be how things work any longer.
— Call your senators and congresspeople, preferably at the relevant district/state office. Try calls over writing. Every single time there’s an upcoming vote or something else you want them to oppose or support, call. Build it into the routine of your day. There will be something to call about nearly every day.
— This is especially important in mixed states with close races and large numbers of people voting Democratic. Use the complacency of the right. If those silent Trump voters remain silent when it comes to votes in the House or Senate but progressive people flood the lines, it can tip the scale for right-leaning Democrats and moderate Republicans who might do something stupid. Heavy volumes of calls are something congressional reps definitely heed. Senators less so, but still.
— For 2018 midterms, start now. If you can give time, give time. If you can give money, give money. If you can give both, give both. Try to give both. It’s absolutely crucial. More than twice as many Democrats/independents as Republicans have terms expiring in the Senate; in the House, of course, all seats are up for grabs. If Trump gets 60 in the Senate, it’s going to be catastrophic. View 2018 as you would have viewed this race had Trump led the polls.
— Not very many governorships are really up for grabs, but state legislatures are important. Democrats control very few state legislatures, even if you count those where they control one house. This leaves them barely able to block potential constitutional amendments, and it leaves congressional districts totally gerrymandered for the G.O.P. All politics is local, etc., so even though these races aren’t sexy, pay attention and get involved.
— Donate. Not only should you donate to every Democratic senator, congressperson, state legislator, and governor (incumbent or candidate for those offices) in your state or districts, you should donate to organizations that preserve civil liberties, education, LGBT rights, medical care, reproductive rights/services, and the environment. For most middle- and upper-income people, your taxes are about to be lower. Tax yourself if you want the country and the government to look how you wish it could look.
— If 10 million people gave $100 total across all these races, that would be a huge war chest. If 10 million people gave 100 hours over the next two years, that would be an almost uncountable amount of effort. Be a part of that, and harass everyone you know to get involved. This is now a part of your duty as a citizen; sit still for five minutes thinking about that and see if you start to feel it.
— Register voters. Do it in your state, and if your state is deep blue and you grew up in a state that’s in any way a tossup, go home for a visit and help register voters. Or go to the borderline state next door and do it. The closer to home, in whatever sense of home, the better.
— Encourage third-party candidates who run grassroots campaigns and seek to build up a viable support base for local and state elections. Oppose random vanity/spoiler candidates for high office with no party base and scant background in public service. The Democratic Party isn’t the only way forward in the long term, and its platform and leadership have for years been in need of profound reform, but be realistic about the current duopoly on political infrastructure and capability. Push the Party as hard as you can, particularly to espouse a clear and ambitious message of economic justice. Do not let them be pulled rightward into an ideological no-man’s (and certainly -woman’s!) land.
— Meanwhile, seek common cause with people who may not agree with your entire worldview but with whom progressives can work on certain issues. Conservative religious people with scruples about the environment or the character of our leaders, for example. Remember that there are decent people in almost every corner.
— If you don’t know a lot about U.S. history, educate yourself.
— Talk to people outside your comfort zone, and listen. Participate in activities outside your norm and have an open mind. (As an aside, an example for me: Since exposing myself to gun culture and doing my concealed handgun license class, I understand gun folks much better. That understanding doesn’t mean you’re going to magically “swing” someone who matches your personal stereotype of an ignorant gun nut, but it’s useful. This is separate and distinct from canvassing, though it can help when it comes to that.)
— Do not normalize unconstitutional policies or behavior that undermines civil society. Have a good response to false equivalencies from friends, family, and other assorted contrarians. “Healing” shouldn’t cover statements, ideas, promises, and acts whose purpose is to harm people. It’s a cliché that misleads, since the larger “wound” wasn’t what frothed to the surface during the campaign but its validation via the election.
If people say they want healing, tell them that they, too, have to fight every part of what’s happening that attacks, disenfranchises, and destroys others. Tell them that healing means working toward a goal, not sitting it out. Be ready for arguments, and have them, civilly. Don’t shout on Facebook, offer to talk on the phone to try to understand. Talk to your relatives. Do not talk to trolls. Make every decent person do this.
— Be concerned; be worried; do not be afraid. It is reasonable to have fear. But if all good people have courage, fear is not necessary.”