Before I get back to the business of writing book reviews, I wanted to take a minute for one more post-election post.
It feels like everyone’s talking about what to do next. A lot of it’s noise to me. I’m worried about my job and honestly not feeling like I can make much of a difference right now. Sorry for my glass-half-empty outlook — but we’ve given the GOP and this horrible man nearly unfettered power for at least the next two years.
That said, on the what-we-can-do front, here’s a list of the suggestions I’ve seen (I’m doing some but not others, so not an endorsement):
- Give to various causes threatened by the new administration, such as civil rights, reproductive rights, environmental protection, gun control, etc. Sadly, the list of causes that now need your support is a long one (here’s a good list from Jezebel).
- Act locally. Work with a program that teaches adults English or escort women at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
- March in the Million Woman March in DC on January 21. I haven’t decided about this one yet, although I have friends who are going. Before I go out into the cold in January, I want to know more about what they’re marching for and their plan of action.
- Support the abolition of the Electoral College.
- Wear a safety pin. This is a sign to show your solidarity with the non-Trump supporters. I’ve also seen it described as a sign that you will stand up for anyone who is being bullied, including women, immigrants, Muslims, or people who are gay or transgender. Pretty cool. But then I’ve seen the counterargument that if you’re not really prepared to stand up to a bully, don’t wear the pin – and I’ve also seen people saying wearing a pin is just a panacea to assuage your white guilt. So feeling kind of mixed about this one.
- Reach across the aisle. A lot of people are calling for understanding and kindness towards those with completely opposing political (and life) views. The idea is that if we treat all Trump voters as unprincipled racists, we will never come together as a country or help them to vote better next time. (Personally, I’m not feeling this one although I get the argument. This article about “coastal elites” best reflects my feelings on the subject.)
- Support paid, neutral journalism like major newspapers. Pay for a subscription. I forget where I saw this but I really like this one.
Here’s what I’m doing for my own personal sanity: limiting Facebook. I loved reading all the Pantsuit Nation posts going into the election, but afterward I felt completely blindsided. Not at all their fault; but I think I need less social media, more real world. I just don’t find the onslaught of hate crime stories, memes, rants, and even well-meaning advice to be helpful to my state of mind right now. But then I’ve never been very good at Facebook.
And before I pressure myself to do more, I’m taking it easy for a little while. I’m reading the fluffiest fluff. I’m spending time with the husband and counting my blessings I don’t live in a house divided. I’m trying not to read about who my next boss will be or whether my agency will be shut down.
I really like this what-to-do-next post from The Bloggess. Plus ridiculously cute cat gifs.
What are you doing?
There are so many worthy causes that are going to need help particularly over the next few years. Some good advice I’ve seen is to pick just one that really means something to you and stick with them. I pretty much immediately set up a monthly donation to the ACLU. And this Christmas, instead of presents, all of my family members are getting donations to charitable causes in their names.
This year I focused a lot on writing to my senator who I disagreed with on a lot of policies. But it never seemed to do much good, I only ever got form-letter replies, and then he got re-elected anyway. So nothing I say is going to really change his mind as to my value as a constituent. They say calling your representatives gets more notice than email. I have a lot of anxiety over that and haven’t personally been able to do it yet. But there are all kinds of scripts online and you can call your congressional reps and senators and make your feelings known if that’s something you’re comfortable with.
Thanks for the helpful suggestions! I normally give to a lot of these causes anyway but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. I like the idea of focusing on one or a few. And I love the Christmas idea. We host a holiday brunch each year and I’m trying to come up with a way to work donations into the festivities. Suggestions? Also maybe now is the time to get better about calling Senators and Reps – although mine are mostly blue anyway.
Even if your reps are blue, contacting them is a good way to emphasize- I am one of your constituents, this is what is important to me, this is what you need to fight for. It might give them statistics on what is really important to their community- to see, for instance, what may be worth compromising on, and where to focus their energies on. Or just to offer support and encouragement if they put up a bill you feel strongly about or something of that nature.
I have got to limit Facebook too. I sort of calm myself down and then i look at it and it upsets me again, to no good purpose.
Connecting with others who share my values is the most supportive thing right now. I can’t deal with understanding Trump voters. Maybe someday.
I’m glad it’s not just me! Even in normal times I let Facebook get to me, but right now all the sad stories and conflicting advice are just too much. Good luck with all this…
Sending you supportive vibes from across the pond. Have also become a newspaper subscriber (Guardian) – worth every penny.
Thanks Rebecca! I always appreciate your support.
So, the below is long-ish, but it’s from my best friend in the States, who is a brilliant community organiser and grade-A responsible citizen, on practical ways to be a light in the darkness:
“A few thoughts among many:
1. I’m seeing a lot of “love trumps hate” sentiments, particularly from my white friends. Please be very, very careful about asking the many groups of people whose lives and humanity are on the line to love the people who want to destroy them and their families. And please spend some time with the author bell hooks’ many works on the transformative power of radical love, and also the transformative power of radical rage. Make space for both, in greater amounts than you ever have before.
2. When you look at historical examples of countries (including our own) that have fallen into facism and the wilful disregard for human life that is a primary characteristic of the far-right, one of the most terrifying outcomes of moments like this is how quickly the status quo is normalized. Business as usual is allowed to go on and on and on as more people are ground under the wheels of life-threatening injustice. My goal today is to document the rage, sorrow, and shock that left me crying and vomiting last night, and to store it for conversion into permanent action. This task is critical, because when our shock wears off we will see tremendous amounts of complacency, even from supposed friends and allies. Here are some ways that I plan to interrupt my sense of normalcy, once I find it again:
-work harder at saving money, so that I can give more financial support to immigrants, people of color, Muslims, my queer family, women, and everyone else who will be organizing to save their lives
-begin improving my Spanish, so that I can better communicate with my neighbors in the greatest danger
-determine whether I am capable of and qualified to foster children, if we do indeed see the explosion in ruptured families that deportation will create
-address the racism, homophobia, xenophobia and sexism that I have tolerated in certain loved ones for far too long
-speak more openly about sexual violence and the consequences it has had for me and the people I love best
-prepare to go to jail for acts of civil disobedience designed to slow the wheels of injustice that are moving swiftly towards the most vulnerable in our society
-push the many people I know who have tremendous social and economic capital to spend it unsparingly to keep our communities safe
-pray more, not because it will change my situation, but because I will need to be changed to live up to my responsibilities
-listen harder to the people who have knowledge and wisdom that I don’t, including my elders, my beloved transgender chosen family, and anyone who has survived in societies and situations where their humanity went unrecognized and their existence was deemed a threat
-fight against the mentality of scarcity and individualism that renders all of the acts above hard or impossible”
Thank you Elle! I think it’s so important to hear from people who really understand what’s happening. I found this really helpful.
I’ve been feeling the same way – wondering what I can do to possibly make a difference (especially since I’m neither American nor in America). I’m really going to try and use my blog to promote inclusiveness and kindness whenever possible by increasing the diversity of my reading choices. It’s a little thing, but it’s something, and it helps me feel less powerless in the face of a world that seems to be spinning out of control.
Thanks for commenting Jane! Supporting diversity and inclusiveness sound like great goals. That’s something I always need to try harder at.
I’m still feeling numb, with occasional bouts of nausea and rage. I’ve had to take a Facebook break, too, but I can’t decide whether it’s helping because now I just feel disconnected. I haven’t been able to energize myself yet to start actually doing anything, but what Elle posted from her friend—about normalizing the status quo—that’s the scariest part to me. Because I know it’s true, and part of me knows we have to fight it, but part of me knows it’s going to happen anyway and is too depressed to do anything about it . . . which will only contribute to the normalizing. I know there’s a lot we have to do. I’m trying to get up the energy to do it.
I feel very much the same way. Thanks for sharing!