We’ve fulfilled what seemed like an easy logical proposition: if Donald Trump becomes president, then we will protest. But that sentence is an end in itself, as it doesn’t say what we should do after that protest. The Women’s Marches across the country were heartening, but without sustained action building off of them, they will ultimately be for nothing. It’s difficult to see what there is left to do after the marches, but here are five suggestions to keep you motivated for the next four years:
1. Find your nearest swing district.
The 2018 midterms are the best and brightest hope we have for trying to salvage whatever is left of this country by then. But it’s hard to find where our efforts will have the greatest effect. The website Swing Left is a solution to that. When you put your zip code into the website, Swing Left shows you the closest swing district to where you live and lets you sign up for a mailing list that will update you on what you can do to help.
2. Call your representatives in Congress.
Don’t email. Don’t write. Calling is most productive. Senators’ staffers actually keep track of calls, and when a lot of people call about an issue it gets noticed. So look up your senator and their phone numbers here, your House representatives here and let them know how displeased you are with their votes for Trump’s nominees, or their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act or basically any other shameful thing they’ve done. (Or, if you’re lucky unlike me, thank them for fighting the good fight.) And if you need some direction as to who to call and what to talk about, the website 5 Calls has it all laid out for you here.
3. Pay attention to local politics.
It’s not enough to just focus on what is going on at the federal level. The fact is that the right controls many state government seats. It’s these state governments that gerrymander districts, suppress votes and fail to protect their citizens against our shameless president. I know this better than anyone else. My home state of North Carolina is a perfect picture of a state driven by a conservative government into national ruin sustained by voter suppression. So pay attention to what goes on at the local level. It’s not enough to care every four years when a presidential election comes around.
4. Stop thinking your Facebook comments would do anything.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Let’s face it: getting in a Facebook fight with some moron you went to high school with over Trump’s EO to build a border wall is not productive. You are never going to convince them, and you’re wasting a considerable amount of time and brainpower that should be reserved for other things. Same goes for complaining about politics on Twitter (of which I am guilty). Sure it’s cathartic, but recognize that it does nothing except make you feel better. We need to get out of our social media bubbles and get to work.
5. Stay aware.
I get it. Checking the news now is like forever applying salt to an open wound. But to retreat into yourself, to retreat into numbness and hopelessness under a guise of cynicism or self-care is to give up. Keep checking the news. Keep getting angry. Keep calling your representatives, keep talking about what’s happening with others and keep listening. Despair is a hell of a black hole, but action is the only thing that will keep us from falling in. Stay awake. It’s going to be a long four years.