Not my President

donald-trumpMy head is spinning with how fast the lash and backlash about #notmypresident has come and gone (and frankly, about a lot of election issues). I had thoughts about it when it started right after the election, and I still have thoughts about it now, a long, long week later.

To be clear, Donald Trump is not my President. As George W. Bush was not, nor his father. But of course I respect the office of the Presidency, and he is the President of the United States (barring some fever dream about unfaithful electors or exit-vote proof of fraud). I do not think he is an illegitimate President. I do not think the military should disobey him as their Commander in Chief (but note, I do hope that, if he should order nuclear launches, the military will defy him, as I hope they would do under any President, no matter the circumstances).

I have no problem with this apparent paradox. It is the basis of nonviolent protest. I will not overthrow the government, but I will resist the policies I cannot accept. Or as written on a sign Ani DiFranco held up at a protest, “I’m done accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

And there are things I cannot accept about this administration’s floated plans. Religious registration and internment? Ceding the Asia-Pacific region to China? Turning a blind eye to Russia’s Soviet-style repression? Tripling down on trickle-down economic fantasies? Unchecked Federal spending on tax cuts for the ultra-rich? Illegal nepotism in the White House? And that’s not all of it. The list grows daily.

So yeah, he’s not my President. In fact, in an eerie parallel to Kansas (just one of many) Trump was elected by about one quarter of the electorate. So he’s likely not your President, either.

What can we do to change the things we cannot accept? How do we stand up to this President without attacking the Presidency? Protest, as we have in marches already, as we will in marches to come. As we have with phone calls, and as we will continue to do with phone calls. Get involved in your local and state elections, because trickle-up politics is a real thing.

But most importantly, of all these things, get out the vote. There is no action that will change our nation faster than involving some of the 100 million (or so) registered voters who did not vote, and getting them voting. This is the single thing you can do to make a difference in two years, and in four years.

In the face of despair

Monday morning I woke up feeling the most despondent I have yet since election night. Well, since after election night. That night was pretty bad.

But I’ve had a sort of energy since then, maybe a bit manic, that may have been propping me up. Yesterday, I woke up and read the news as I usually do, and it hit me. We are in for four years of unmitigated crap. I don’t like this feeling, so I’m setting about to figure out what I can do to, yes, make myself feel better. Here are the problems I see, in big wide generalizations that surely don’t address all of the important issues. And here is what I am doing about them, personally, locally, and nationally.

  • Trump’s campaign, whether incidentally, demonstrably, or even intentionally, has made it okay to be a misogynist, racist homophobe.

What am I doing about that? Personally, I’m wearing a safety pin, both to provide outward evidence that not everyone is an asshole, but also to remind myself to be more intentional in my interaction with folks who might feel targeted. I live in Kansas, and I don’t run into many marginalized people, which makes it all the more shameful that I have not reached out.

There are any number of good groups, locally, I am sure, to which I could give money, or energy. There’s a Social Justice committee at my church, and I am hoping they will help me identify places I can give my time. Our church does a great job with hunger issues and Islamic outreach. That’s a start.

Since the election, Tiffany and I have become monthly givers to the Southern Poverty Law Canter and Planned Parenthood. SPLC counters and protects those who are singled out and attacked in hate crimes. Planned Parenthood provides ongoing health services and support for women and poor families throughout their lives.

  •  Trump’s Presidency will roll back much of the progress we achieved under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The trending of the nation’s voting counties towards the right will lead to more challenges for real people’s lives. The economy will provide less for more. The influence of Trump’s white supremacist friends, his oligarch cronies, and the opportunistic extreme right will turn actual, real freedoms upside down.

In a nutshell, he has the full power of the Federal Government, for at least two years, probably four, to enact the agendas of his friends and supporters.

What can I do about this? I can stay active in politics. I work in state level politics in Kansas, where we actually had a retreat from conservative positions this election. We’ve seen the destructive results of unfettered extremist ideology here, and Kansans have chosen change direction. There’s much more work to be done, especially to make this a lasting change, and I will keep working at it.

We’ve also opened up our pocketbook on this issue, becoming first-time monthly supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The ACLU works to protect civil liberties at the local level with an eye towards national influence. The NRDC protects the environment, among other ways, by fighting laws and regulations that affect our future on the planet.

  • In two and four years, the country will vote again. The chance that we could continue down this path is frightening, and must be prevented.

Personally, while I’m not cut out to actually run for office, I have skills and experience that would be useful to those who are. I will continue to be active in politics, in get out the vote efforts, in supporting candidates who will change this direction. I’m well versed in local issues (and the maxim that all politics is local is unquestionably true) and yet I will work to explore issues I don’t know much about.

I plan to learn more about how the Democratic Party works nationally, what can be done to support those local Republicans who are on the right side of the issues I care about (remember, I live in Kansas), and how I can encourage more people, especially women, to step up to public service. Is there anything more awesome than Tammy Duckworth’s smile?

I’m encouraged by the number of people who are looking to get involved, and the number of groups stepping up to offer them an avenue, from established groups to new ones.

This is how it starts. That’s how you defeat despair. You do something.