The unthinkable happened. The American people voted for Donald Trump as the next president. The reasons for this are obvious: America is sick of what status quo Washington leadership has delivered. Depending on what happens next, how we react to a Trump presidency could define this generation and change the world.
Three or four things can happen now:
1. Trump effectively delivers on his promises: Reducing immigration, making America safer by relying on law and order (intensifying police spending and border security), domesticating labor and manufacturing by somehow simultaneously reducing barriers to corporations but also heavily penalizing those who off-shore or who wish to import goods, reducing the tax burden, and replacing the Affordable Care Act with 'something really fantastic.' He wins against ISIS and creates jobs. He makes America Great Again.
Oh, and he builds that wall.
2. Trump flails around like a wounded shark and shatters the American political status quo by being impulsive, vengeful, insubstantial, petty, and inept. It's a weird and economically bereft time, and has vast political repercussions, but we all more or less make it through. The underlying motivation that got Trump elected: dissatisfaction with the state of America, is addressed in coming generations.
3. Trump continues to feed on hateful rhetoric and the scapegoating of the most marginalized populations in the nation and builds a powerful movement that can only be described as fascist. People who perpetuate this perspective will be supported by authority, passively or actively.
4. Some kind of combination/spectrum of the above.
I'm not predicting we end up toward #3 on the spectrum, but if that is what occurs, here are some ways we can prepare and counteract it. In the face of unprecedented (unPresidented?) hostility and oppression, we have to act. These are empowering reactions regardless of what happens next.
It is of utmost importance that we constantly seek the truth.
Discontentment is why Trump won, but how Trump won is by tapping into that discontentment by lying. Anyone identifying Trump's lies is disregarded by his supporters as a product of a biased media, but the words that come out of his mouth are a matter of public record, and they're not often factual by anyone's measure. Rigorously pursuing facts did not win in the face of Trump's presidential bid, but staying factual will be the only way we can preserver in the face of oppression in an informed, effective way and be on the right side of history when the dust settles. With the erosion of the 4th estate, this has never been harder, which is why clarity and investigation need to champion over propaganda on the left and the right. But truth is demonstrable with evidence and lies are not, even in complex matters of politics. As change occurs, demand proof before siding with oppression and publicize truth that counters the claims of the oppressive party.
Reach out and connect with communities that are vulnerable and let them know you will fight for their liberty.
Go to mosques and commiserate with Muslims. Talk to the people you are acquainted with but who are outside your community and let them know you're there. Go to community events being organized right now to resist the outcomes of hateful rhetoric and action. Talk to people who are different from you and at risk. Depending on who you are and what you do, offer them your support and an open door in the event that they need you. And be ready to sacrifice your comfort, freedom, future and stability to prevent something atrocious from happening in your time.
Use the tools that you have.
You're an artist? Spread truth. You're a programmer? Create tools that allow people to effectively communicate. You're a nurse? Train others to take care of themselves. We all have roles to play, the skills we have professionally or in terms of interests can be applied to making the world a better and safer place in a thousand creative ways.
Connect with your local power structure and try to ascertain where their line in the sand is.
Will your local city council and mayor's office reject an order to profile citizens based on religion? Will your business licensor quit over a request to shut a business because its owners are immigrants? Find out, introduce yourself, and put pressure where you can on those in power to do the right thing. If you're within a power structure that can turned for the worse if American democracy falls apart, consider how to most effectively leverage that position. The men and women of our armed forces and police more than likely want to do the right thing, but will need allies and support to do so in the face of a changing political normal.
We don't know how bad things can get, and hopefully scenario #3 is a nightmare that we over-prepared for. If that's the case, the last step is still the most important:
Organize for what you believe in and what you want to preserve. Organize to put pressure on leaders who will be watching the same changes you are. Organize to provide for those at risk. Organize to educate and prepare everyone to challenge what's to come and the problems we've been saddled with all along. Organize to connect with other people and initiatives talking the same goals.
Whatever you do, do not be a spectator in your own moment.
This is a wild time to be an American, but it is our time, and whether it's prosperous or apocalyptic we won't be a people who did nothing but watch youtube clips of a changing world.
Choose truth and love over hate and division.
See you out there.