Oh my god, you guys.These past two weeks. There have been Nazis holding a jamboree in DC. There have been citizens helping each other in the most heroic ways. We are seeing the best of us in the worst of times. Some days, I see hope. Some days…
I don’t have a beginning, middle or end here. I just have this list of thoughts that race through my brain as I’m paused at stoplights or awake in the middle of the night. I’m not going to even pretend to frame this. Take what you want from this, leave what’s useless to you.
- Pick your issues. You do not have to become an expert on all kinds of policy. Pick what matters to you and go deep. I’ve chosen ACA/Medicare, reproductive justice, and protecting the media from censorship. I do not have the bandwidth to learn environmental policy, national security, tax law, or international trade. I already know about my pet issues because I already have passion about those issues. I’ll support others who can lead on things I don’t know but I won’t beat myself up for not knowing them.
- It’s ok if you don’t know how to begin advocating on an issue. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are professional advocacy people hard at work on every issue that progressives hold dear. They are monitoring the incoming administration, Congress, and state governments. They are experienced, smart, and have the mechanisms in place to track any movement on an issue in real time. Go find those advocacy networks and get on their mailing list. Sign up for text alerts. They will keep you up to date and tell you when and how to act. They will even give you language to use when you call state and federal officials.
- Don’t rely on cable news, or even network news. TV news is entirely reliant on ratings and advertisers. They need constant eyeballs so they trade in outrage. Instead, let’s make the return to print media. Subscribe to your local paper, online or hard copy. Then start writing to the editors to ask for in-depth, honest coverage. Create the market for that kind of journalism.
- Don’t trust the outrage of the day. Look for the story behind the sensationalism. When Trump was tweeting about Hamilton last weekend, he was also settling a fraud lawsuit. Today, when he was trying to get cute with the New York Times, he was distracting from revelations that his foundation has admitted to wrong-doing. There will always be a serious story lurking in the shadows of the clickbait story. Look for that instead of getting stuck on the shiny object. The misdirection is deliberate, as are the efforts to undermine trust in traditional news sources. If Trump hates an outlet, pay attention to it.
- Keep your eyes up. Get outside, away from the computer and engage in your surroundings. Talk to the kid behind the register, the lady at the next table over. Make small talk. Laugh with strangers. Be the person who’s interacting with everyone so the bigot or sexual harasser in the room doesn’t feel empowered to start in. And if the bigot does start in? Gauge your safety and do what you can to defuse a situation. Step in, start recoding, call security or the police. Or just walk up and stand beside a person being harassed. Put your hand on their shoulder. Do what you can.
- Don’t badmouth Trump or his supporters around your kids. I know. But don’t.
- You also don’t need to become a one-person outreach machine to figure out why Trump voters did what they did or talk them out of their positions. I mean, you can if you want to but don’t feel like you have to become a forensic sociologist and create a Unified Theory of Trumpism. I’m not bothering because I’m an asshole and don’t really care. I’ll just save Medicare and they can reap the benefits of guaranteed health coverage in their golden years, oblivious to my work. They’re welcome anyway.
- Take joy in your life.
- Now, this is not going to make me popular but…you have to prepare yourself for the fights we are going to lose. It’s going to happen. Bad things are going to happen. It won’t be for lack of people like us trying to stop them. When they happen, grieve. Then prepare to try again. One loss is only one loss.
Stronger together, my friends. We’re stronger together.