1. Accept that we don’t live in a democracy.
This one is going pretty well. We have been following the news with a growing sinking feeling but not with shock. It’s important to stay calm and focused because constant outrage is emotionally exhausting.
2. Try to change the government anyway.
We have set up ongoing donations to the ACLU. We’ve increased our number of phone calls to senators and representatives by about fivefold. All four of us attended the Women's March in DC, which was exhilarating but which was also just the beginning. This week I went to a weekly gathering outside our Republican senator’s office (and learned he refuses to meet with his constituents) and tomorrow we will be surrounding the Loews Hotel where the Republican leadership is meeting. T attended the most recent meeting of the local Democratic committee and submitted both our names for committee positions. We haven’t done any volunteering yet. But given that neither of us is a “joiner,” our other actions are a good start for us.
3. Support people who may be directly affected by new government policies.
We've set up ongoing donations to Planned Parenthood. I've been more consistent about giving money to people panhandling and we bought furniture for a local shelter. With the press under attack, I paid for a subscription to the Washington Post (as opposed to getting free articles from incognito browsers like I'd been doing - sorry, Jamie!). We hung a Black Lives Matter sign on our house to make our support visible. Still haven’t done any volunteering. We should think about that.
4. Build community
We’ve hosted a few dinners with neighbors whom we didn’t know well but we’re already sliding off on that. One of these days I will reach out to the Trump supporters down the block, but I’m not there yet. T joined and now leads the local chapter of the Bicycle Coalition, working on building more bike-friendly communities.
5. Take the high road
Our goals were to be aware of privilege, look for areas of improvement in ourselves, avoid sensationalism, and support people who support our goals, even if we disagree with how they’re achieving those goals. For the first two I’ve mostly been reading, to try to broaden my perspectives on privilege and politics. Avoiding sensationalism means being very careful about how we get our news - as much as possible I’ve been reading original documents or watching original video rather than reading and watching through the filter of news summaries or opinion pieces. The fourth part has honestly been the hardest, maybe because when someone completely disagrees with you politically, it’s not disappointing when they do something you don’t like, but when someone mostly agrees with you and then does something you don’t like, that can be challenging. So for example, the White man who stood against the current of the crowd at the Women’s March accepting high-fives for clearing the incredibly low bar of not voting for Trump probably has 90% of the same goals as me, but infuriates me far more than my senator who would destroy the planet, regulate my body, and incarcerate my neighbor. I definitely need to work on empathy.