Continuing the post-election series we started Monday where we ask friends of the studio and those whose opinions we respect, basically, what now? Rather than curl into the fetal position and sink into our dark place, how can we take this massive shift in culture and politics and make it into something good. Today’s piece is from Damien Carroll, who contributed some pre-election insight on the many California propositions to us recently and acts as 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley.
It’s hard to overstate all this country lost on Election day by voting in (though the antiquated electoral college, but still) an abusive, vindictive, amoral dunderhead as our next President. A man who no decent parent would hold up as an example for their children. A man whose biggest business accomplishment was losing enough money to avoid paying taxes for 18 years. A man who we know full well doesn’t even want the job. Donald Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and already this election is enshrined as the most self-destructive act of a great nation since the Trojans pulled a wooden horse into their city and left it out overnight.
So far be it from me to sugar coat. This is really, unbelievably bad. This is like if the Goonies ended with the kids drowning in the underground cavern while Mama Fratelli walked into the sunset with a bag of pirate gold… bad. I’m not going to tell you it’s raining… sorry, that is indeed piss on your leg. And in your hair. It’s piss from floor to ceiling.
But… now that it’s happened, what are we going to do about it? Mope around for four years? Spend our energy on woulda shoulda arguments about Bernie or James Comey? If you are reading this, chances are you are understandably bummed out, but not among the most powerless people in America post-election. If you are a Syrian refugee, an undocumented child, or a diabetes patient on Obamacare – OK, you get a pass. But for the rest of us: it’s time to fight. Here’s how:
1) Right now, Google your Congressmember’s office and write down, on a Post-It note, their DC and District Office phone numbers and their mailing address. Stick it by your computet. If they have an email newsletter, get on their list. Then start communicating. Let them know how you feel about issues of the day. Be polite, well informed, and don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. Look for opportunities to meet in person, like Town Hall meetings or constituent days. No Congressmember, Republican or Democratic, likes angry constituents, especially ones with a trusted network of friends. Let them know they aren’t acting in the dark.
2) Sign up for a daily newspaper, or two or three. We’re going to need real reporters in this era, who will investigate and take risks instead of just rewriting press releases (or reprinting Trump’s tweets.) That’s not free.
3) Make a plan to join a Democratic club in your area. The activists running these clubs just worked like hell to oppose Trump and got beat. They are exhausted and demoralized, and they’ll need fresh faces with ideas and energy. Don’t be too hard on them if they seem a little grumpy. Think of yourself as the person who can warmly greet the next new person coming through the door.
4) Get out of the house and meet some of your neighbors. The ones you already know will be happy to see you. The ones you don’t know yet may be feeling scared and appreciate a friendly face. The ones who just voted for Trump need to meet some real life Democrats that aren’t demonized on Fox News.
5) Give yourself permission to laugh (black humor is the fuel of the opposition), to enjoy art (how about an open mike night? Supporting people’s free expression will help you feel better, guaranteed), to cry when you need to, and to walk in the park.
6) Right now, block out three weekends on your calendar in the October before the 2018 election, to go volunteer.
As we say goodbye (with one of those hugs where you can’t let go) to President Obama, let’s not forget his words from the 2008 election: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” History is watching. All we have is each other. That will have to be enough.