A lot of people are concerned, or angry, or just plain scared of the idea of a Trump presidency. A lot of people want to do something, but don’t know what.
Here’s what you can do:
- Read the news. Stay informed. If you see something on social media, don’t believe it unless you can trace it back to a source you trust.
- Read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the other Amendments — preferably with explanations, because you won’t get the full meaning on your own without a background in law and history. This site is pretty good. You can also buy a cheap “pocket” copy like this one.
- Read other historical stuff that will give you a fuller picture of our nation and the world: landmark Supreme Court cases, the Federalist papers, the story of the Civil Rights movement, etc.
- Read from the “other side.” For liberals, read some conservative-leaning stuff, like Fox News and (if you can stomach it) Breitbart.
- Call your government leaders to make your voice heard: to push for or against a certain bill, to urge a certain action, or just to express a viewpoint. (But the more specific you can be, the better.)
- Find out who represents you in Congress.
- You can also call your representatives in the state legislature, your governor, and even local officials like your mayor and city council members.
- Know how to talk to your representatives effectively.
- Remember, these people are duty-bound to represent you, even if they’re a different party than you.
- Write letters of support and encouragement to anyone who might need it: a journalist who’s doing good work, a nonprofit that’s making a difference, or someplace (such as a mosque) that might be worried about intolerance right now. People are used to getting letters that are angry, critical, or demanding — and those have their place — but a small positive gesture can make a big difference to someone who needs it.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. You might change someone’s mind, and even if you don’t, it’ll help you better formulate your own thoughts.
- Write to government leaders — but calling might be more effective (see above).
- Find a nonprofit you believe in, and support them. If you can, make it a recurring donation. Monthly donations, even small ones, are better in the long run because it’s income the nonprofit can count on (and budget accordingly).
- Who should you donate to? Some possibilities:
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is my top choice. I give a more in-depth explanation here. If you’re not sure where your money should go, I’d say send it to them.
- ProPublica, “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest,” is a 501(c)(3) charity.
- The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a nonprofit working to protect the environment, especially by fighting climate change.
- If you’re concerned about reproductive rights and women’s health care, Planned Parenthood could use your support.
- There are a million others. Google is your friend. The main thing is to pick something, do your research, and then pull the trigger.
- Check whether your employer has a donation matching program.
- Don’t have much spare cash to donate? Consider selling some of your old stuff and donating the money you get.
- If you want to “give” but also get something in return, how about buying a digital subscription to the Washington Post or the New York Times? Both papers give you a limited number of free articles, but subscribers can read to their heart’s content. (I’m a Washington Post subscriber myself, and I read them obsessively.)
- Instead of going to amazon.com, go to smile.amazon.com. As long as you use that URL, a small percentage of all your purchases is donated to a charity of your choice (ProPublica is one of the options). There is no extra cost to you, so if you use Amazon, there’s no reason not to do this.
- You can buy pocket Constitutions from the ACLU store. Obviously, the money goes to support the organization.
- Talk to your friends and family. For those who are worried about Trump — suggest real actions they can take, beyond just being worried. This might give you an excuse to reconnect with people you’ve been wanting to catch up with anyway.
- Especially, listen to Trump supporters. You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to change their minds, just listen to people who might think differently than you. Don’t assume that everyone who voted for Trump is racist, sexist, etc.
- On Twitter, why not follow your Senators, Representatives, and other government leaders? Same goes for any nonprofits you admire.
- Find something you want to get involved in. Could be your local Democratic Party (or Republican Party, if that’s your thing). Could be a group that’s nonpolitical, like a food bank or a church. Whatever it is, get out in the community, connect with people, and make your city a better place.
- Some things are important enough to gather in public and protest. I’ve done this myself four or five times, and I’m an introvert.
- Remember to get a permit from local officials if necessary. Be respectful to police and anyone else who shows up, even if they don’t show you the same courtesy. (For the record, all police I’ve ever met at public protests have been cool.)
- Signs are good. Pamphlets are better. Bring lots and hand them out.
- Rallying is democracy. Rioting is violent and stupid and counterproductive. If you protest, you’re communicating. If you riot, you’re an asshole. You should be worrying about freedom of speech, not trial by jury.
- If you’re not registered to vote, do it now.
- Obviously, vote in the 2020 presidential election (and primary).
- But before that comes the 2018 midterm election (and primary). A few seats’ difference in Congress has a huge effect. We can’t afford to sit this one out.
- 2017 elections? You bet. Election Day 2017 is November 7. That’ll be mostly local stuff, but local stuff matters too.
- Don’t demonize the other side. We’re all Americans. Right vs. Left is less important than Democracy vs. Authoritarianism.
- Don’t let yourself start thinking that all this is normal or okay. It’s not. It never has been. The fact that it keeps happening makes it more outrageous, not less.
- Don’t give up.
Obviously this list could be a whole lot longer, but I think that’s plenty to start with. The main thing is to keep paying attention, stay involved, and actually do something.
If you want to talk about any of this, you can email me at email@example.com.
Good night, and good luck.