I think half of America is currently experiencing one of the five stages of grief right now.
The first, DENIAL: You can be sure a lot of Americans went to bed on the night of November 8th certain that by the time they woke up Wednesday morning, everything would be sorted out and Donald Trump would NOT be our president-elect. No way, no how.
Wednesday morning came. Their alarm went off. They turned on their TV/Radio, or checked Twitter/Facebook. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Some people no doubt stayed in denial for a while. Some of them are still there. Most of us, however, moved on to stage two, ANGER: One of my friends unfriended every single person who she knew voted for Trump. People blamed everyone from their parents, to their neighbors, to poor white men, to Hillary Clinton, to our lousy education system. Others marched. And still others rioted. We all handle our emotions differently. But there’s only so much rioting you can do.
So they moved on to stage three, BARGAINING: I don’t personally know anybody who promised their first-born-child to the individual who could find that little-known “No Idiots” clause in the Constitution which would ensure that The Donald never took the Oath of Office, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it happened somewhere.
And everyone everywhere promised to be a better citizen: that they’d start paying more attention to elections and staying more involved in the political process. If only. This was when the petitions started circulating about getting rid of the electoral college, and even petitions directed to Hillary Clinton requesting that she exercise her “right” as winner of the popular vote to assume the presidency. People clutched at articles about “faithless electors” and googled what their punishment would be. All they would have to do was pay a little fine and they would be free to vote for the other candidate. I’m sure there were a lot of offers on Craigslist to pay the fines in exchange for a promise from an elector that s/he wouldn’t vote for Trump.
But the electors are going to do their duty. Even if one or two or seven of them resign on principle, the rest will still vote the way they are required.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are settling in nicely in stage four: DEPRESSION. I read the news every day. I know what our President-Elect is doing: his terrifying appointments; his tweets; his children; his private meetings with foreign leaders (with his children); his global business interests. I read about the threats and hate crimes being committed in his name. I am currently really depressed. How about you?
But at some point, probably right around January 21st, we’ll find stage five: ACCEPTANCE AND HOPE. And that is where the work begins.
Because these next four years are going to be difficult. But that doesn’t mean we just take it all lying down. We need to work hard to make sure that people we care about aren’t hurt, that our planet isn’t ravaged, and that everything we know and love about our country isn’t lost. And there are a few things we can do:
We know that we can minimize the damage of a Trump administration by making sure that he has the shortest possible amount to time to inflict damage. Yes, certain things are inevitable: the Affordable Care Act will almost certainly be repealed, the Supreme Court vacancy will be filled, and climate change regulations will be reduced. But the ship of state moves slowly, and other major changes won’t happen overnight. So if Democrats can retake the House and Senate in 2018, much of the worst legislation can be blocked, defeated or repealed.
So commit to voting for Democratic candidates at the midterm elections in 2018. If possible, get involved in the campaigns for the Democratic candidate running for Congress in your district. And actually show up on election days. that’s days –plural. Remember, the primaries are every bit as important as the general election. Because it’s important to have strong progressive candidates if Democrats are going to regain seats and stand up for what matters.
Many organizations called emergency meetings at the highest level the very night of the election and are already gearing up to take action to protect vulnerable groups, individuals, and the environment. The ACLU has vowed to fight back if the Trump administration moves forward with any of his unconstitutional campaign promises, including his “plan to amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation’s libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.” If you support this mission, you can help with a donation to the ACLU.
Or make a donation to one of the other organizations that will help to ensure that vulnerable groups and our planet are protected. Or better yet, volunteer. Find an organization that represents the cause or issue you are most concerned about, and sign up. Here are a few that could use your support: Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, Natural Resources Defense Council, NAACP, the Trevor Project, and Sierra Club. If you know of others, add them in the comments.
Learn the issues. Find the facts. Not the one sentence, I-learned-it-in-a-Facebook-meme kind of facts, but what’s really going on. Learn from reliable sources. Be able to separate fact from fiction, be able to make clear and coherent arguments supported by facts, and be able to educate others around you.
Pay for an actual subscription to an actual legitimate, unbiased news source. One of the most unfortunate casualties of the digital age was the demise of newspapers and newsrooms. Many papers around the country and around the world had to lay off a large percentage of their journalists and investigative reporters or close their doors entirely. It’s more vital now than ever before to protect those sources that have survived. Good news-gathering and investigative journalism costs money. And newspapers need your support.
Don’t get your news from television. Television news coverage is superficial where it exists at all: During the campaign, network TV “news” dedicated a combined total of 32 minutes to coverage of this issues, and no coverage at all of issues such as climate change or guns. Morning talk shows are there for ratings, not for meaningful political coverage. If a program interviews a political pundit in one segment and then in the next gives you the 10 Best Stocking Stuffers for the Techie in Your Life, it’s a good bet that its resources are not devoted to serious journalism.
Unfollow and stop watching biased news sources. No matter which side they claim to be on, overly-biased sources make meaningful dialog impossible. Encourage your friends and family members to take their news sources seriously. Stop sharing misleading or downright false stories on social media and always verify before you share.
Finally, if you feel the calling, consider running for political office. You can start at the local level: city council, school board, etc. It’s important to fill all levels of office with dedicated, motivated individuals with all kinds of backgrounds and talents. You can make a difference.
There’s work to be done. Get through your grief as you must. Then let’s get going.