Sunday, January 29, 2017
Things to do when you fear the impending demise of our Democracy
So...it's been an interesting past several months. Among the many, many bad things that have happened in the world, I am still living with my parents, I turned 34, and there's been some unwelcome death and sickness in my family. Which is all part of life, really, and for the most part I've been able to self-soothe so that the aforementioned setbacks don't totally derail my happiness (that's what 15 years of therapy will do for you...I'm practically a psychopharmacologist!!) but the one worry/fear that I cannot soothe away no matter what drugs I take or how many downward dogs I do is the fear that there's an evil orange man who has just been elected to the most powerful position on the planet, and that even if he somehow dies or get himself impeached, the one waiting in the wings to take his place is on a radical jesus crusade that may somehow be even more terrifying than being at the mercy of a legit autocrat with narcissistic personality disorder.
What are we to do? I post on Facebook incessantly. I keep track of all the fucked up shit that's been happening. I sign petitions, write letters to the White House, deleted my Uber app (which may or may not be helpful). But the fact remains that I firmly believe we are entering an era of unprecedented danger, that our country is being helmed by a madman, and, perhaps most worryingly, that there are hordes of Americans who believe my fears are unfounded and that the danger we face is exaggerated or manufactured by a bunch of sore losers. Never mind the fact that historians and political scientists could provide reams of evidence comparing our current state to what has happened in Venezuela, China, Russia, and yes, Germany, but the facts still fall on deaf ears. For anyone experiencing the same fears/impotent rage/frustration as me, I've compiled a list of things you can do besides scream into the abyss (or in addition to screaming into the abyss, because sometimes that just feels good).
1. Contact your member of congress
There are two approaches to this. If you live in an area where your MoC hasn't taken a stance against Trump and his policies, call his or her office to voice your displeasure. Attend town hall meetings with as many friends as you can organize (starting a Facebook group is a good idea). The important thing to remember is that MoCs are uniquely susceptible to changing their tune if they sense a sea change within their constituency because they're up for reelection every 2 years. So they're basically always in campaign mode. Remember, if enough people reach out to them personally, they will be incentivized to listen, or ignore at their own peril.
If you happen to live in an area where your MoC has already spoken out against Trump, lucky you. Consider taking the same actions as above, but letting them know that you are behind them and appreciate their dedication to fighting the Trump agenda. As you can imagine, they don't often receive kudos from happy citizens, so your praise will go a long way towards making sure they continue to fight the good fight.
If you don't know who your Representative in Congress is, visit www.callmycongress.com to find out. You can also visit www.govtrack.us to see their individual voting record on key issues.
2. Put your money where your mouth is
Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, The NAACP, and countless other organizations all need monetary help to mount expensive legal battles against the Trump administration. Donating money is actually pretty much the easiest thing you can do. It takes absolutely none of your time. I don't recommend doing that alone, but if you have the means, do it. Jezebel has an excellent list of organizations that could use financial help here.
3. Volunteer for those organizations
Getting involved on a local level is something that makes a huge difference. Just ask the Tea Party. And listen, if you've thus far focused all of your philanthropic and volunteer time on puppies and kittens, please, I beg of you--spend at least as much time helping the minority groups that are being directly affected by Trumps xenophobic, homophobic, isolationist policies. I get it, dogs are cute but human beings need help too. Oh, here's another idea: if you work for a company that claims to espouse progressive ideals, encourage your HR department to support a work-sponsored day of action.
4. Fucking vote for chrissake. Make it a point to never miss an election, even the small ones. Now we know what can happen if we stay home. This isn't a joke. There are real consequences to our apathy and inaction. If you live in a true blue state (or red for that matter) and think your vote doesn't matter, maybe that's why we should look into supporting electoral reform so that every vote counts. Currently only 11 states have signed the National Popular Vote Interstate Contract, an agreement to award all of a state's votes in the electoral college to the candidate who wins the popular vote. Find out if your state is one of them here, and if it isn't, time to call up your MoC buddy on the phone again.
While the women's march was an uplifting powerful moment, ultimately it won't foment change in the system, and it won't serve as a deterrent to Trump or his policies. Real, lasting change has to come about through the existing systems of government and through broad action to fight Trump policy on a national scale. The time to hesitate is through.