I’m so utterly, terribly sad on this day. I don’t believe the electors will do what I have hoped, in my gut, they *could* do, if they could find the courage and conviction to reject the demagogue we are about to put into place. But knowing that this outcome, a Trump Presidency, is all but inevitable, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how (and who) to be moving forward.
Like many friends, I’ve been teetering between deep depression and intense anger for weeks now. Numerous times, I have posted things on Facebook, only to pull them off. I’ve done this for a variety of reasons — I was told, publicly or privately, by an ally or allies, that the post wasn’t productive. I’ve considered the fact that I’m primarily operating in an echo chamber, and my voice isn’t a necessary addition to the information that is already swirling around us. I’ve struggled, alongside, and at times, against, my own friends on what is the ‘correct’ or ‘most effective’ strategy to mitigate the inevitable assault on the values I hold dear.
I’ve decided that social media, in a fundamental way, has not only hurt my ability to respond productively, and my ability to communicate effectively, but in many ways has bolstered an urgent sense of despair that has been hard to remove. At times I feel explosive anger – that the only solution is to fight, and fight aggressively. At other times, I have felt paralyzing fear and sadness, which is comparably ineffective.
Today, Donald J. Trump will become our President. I feel absolutely sick writing that statement. But I also know that feeling sick, and iterating that I feel sick, is not effective, and it won’t help me, or anyone else I care about.
So, moving forward, in terms of Trump, rights, and the fights that are about to ensue, I’m going to (try) to stick to a new self-imposed policy: I will do my best to only post that which is productive, and actionable. If I post something that is news (real, actual, fact-based news), I will try to add an additional action item, be that a place that is relevant to donate, or a concrete act one can take to mitigate the impacts of said issue.
I’ve truly struggled recently. I know I’m not alone. I also realize that I’ve felt combative, and at times, perhaps, alienated those I feel closest to, those who in fundamentals, I’m aligned with, and those that I need to work alongside to make America what *we* want it to be. One thing I’ve thought a lot about is the series of conversations I’ve had, with numerous friends, about the ‘best’ strategy, or the ‘best’ use of our energies. The conclusion I’ve come to is that there is no ‘best.’ There is only DO.
There is going to be an incredible amount of work to do moving forward, on a vast range of issues. Most of these issues are tied to each other. It doesn’t matter what your issue is – it just matters that you have one. Or perhaps more than one. It matters that you get up, every day, committed to working, just a little on that issue. This isn’t about what we do THIS second. It’s about what we are going to need to do, every day, to move our own agenda and values forward. This fight will reach far beyond Trump. Trump was years in the making – and I believe, unfortunately, his damage, and the damage created by the beliefs that allowed him to rise – will take years to undo.
Republicans (particularly the far-right) learned this lesson years ago. They litigate. They fight. They get questions (that are civil and human rights oriented) on ballots. They manipulate, and fuel, media narratives. They build these narratives, and powerfully enforce them. They show up at town halls, and in voting booths. We need to do the same. We need to learn from those that built Donald Trump. They come out, on many conservative issues, as a (moderately) unified front. We have failed to do so. We have failed to raise each others voices and support each others endeavors.
In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of ‘in-fighting’ between friends of mine, on a range of issues. There has been a debate on the efficacy of safety pins in indicating solidarity. Some have argued that these pins aren’t ‘enough.’ I’ve seen arguments about whether or not Donald Trump’s Twitter account is worth monitoring, and responding to. (Personally, I think his attacks on freedom of speech are a critical issue to focus on). I have gotten into conversations (debates?) about the efficacy of pushing Electoral College members on shifting their votes today.
All of this has made me think, extensively, about this one thing – we are on the same side. We want the same things. (Or, we want many of the same things, and in fundamentals, are aligned). We need to stop focusing on what others are doing wrong, or how they are utilizing their energies, and bolster each effort. I’ve been guilty of not doing this, but I’m committed to stopping. We need to actively engage in conversations with our allies — be willing to disagree on where to focus our own energies — and support each other. We need to recognize that different actions are part of the same web, and that different points of action are part of the solution. (Check out this list of 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action).
I’m not talking about squashing dissent or relevant, critical debates and conversations among allies. I’m talking about becoming a unified force for good. There are a LOT of fights coming. We need to figure out which ones are ‘our’ fights, and pursue them. It doesn’t matter if my exact fight isn’t yours — what matters is that we see them as aligned. I believe they are.
In my book, today is a personally painful day. I believe, for this country, it will go down as a tragic day. I believe this is the start of a long stretch of truly dark days ahead. I’m scared, and I’m sad. But I am going to fight. I’m going to do my utmost to bolster my friends that are fighting. And I’m going to do my utmost to do so in a productive, positive way. That means, for me, using social media differently – and as a real tool to bolster and organize those around me. I will try and do this. I hope you will to. We need to settle in for a long, uphill battle. And we need to do it together.