WASHINGTON, November 11, 2016 – The 2016 elections delivered victory to Donald J. Trump while also revealing deep divisions within the country.
Americans voted on November 8, 2016, and elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. The narrow win over Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton sent literal shockwaves through the world, and even many Trump supporters expressed surprise with the outcome.
The aftermath of the vote suggests the country is now divided, not only politically but also ethically and morally. While some on the anti-Trump side, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton, are begging Americans to respect the democratic institutions and give Trump a chance to govern, others are stubbornly opposed to that option. Even Trevor Noah of the Daily Show seemed to lose his sense of humor in his post-election show, suddenly understanding that a President Trump isn’t quite as funny as a candidate Trump.
Protests, some violent, have broken out in pockets across the country, and there is now concern the violence will spread. One distraught Los Angeles resident expressed fears that the rioters will “burn down the city.”
While anger and frustration are legitimate responses, violence is not. Mr. Rogers must be rolling over in his neighborhood grave as he watches America misplacing its “mad” and undercutting its own message.
Violence may not solve anything, but neither does complacency. As Aaron Sorkin noted in his letter to his wife and daughter after the Trump election, it’s time to fight. Not through violence, not by burning down our cities or undermining our own efforts, but by standing up. There is a very happy, and effective, medium between curling into the fetal position and destroying our neighborhoods.
So instead of lighting a torch, moving to Canada (or Costa Rica), drinking heavily, or putting on blinders, here are some effective and responsible ways to fight:
- Activism. Start putting efforts in place to bring about change. Support Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, immigrant rights groups or other organizations that desperately need not only dollars but supporters. Back candidates who mirror your views, and let them know you are behind them. Help identify new candidates who represent what you believe in. This is not the time to leave action to others. No matter how busy you are, don’t let your political enthusiasm wane or wait for another day to make a stand.
- Show up. Get involved in causes you care about. Walk for the cure. Volunteer at a shelter. Peacefully rally for reproductive rights. Yes, it might mean getting up early on a Saturday morning, but as Warren Zevon reminded us, we can sleep when we’re dead. Now is the time to wake up.
- Speak out. One of the amazing and beautiful bedrocks of America is the Bill of Rights and its promise of Freedom of Speech. Use it. Talk to people. Write articles. Advocate for what you believe in. Social media is a powerful tool to show who you are and what you believe in. Don’t slip into silence out of fear or complacency. Speak your mind. Raise your voice.
- Put your money where your mouth is. Last June, Arbiter News and editor Laura Sesana posted “Boycott Trump: A list of businesses to avoid.” Economic action speaks loudly and clearly, and refusing to frequent Trump businesses will communicate distaste.
- Live your values. Perhaps the best thing you can do to send a message to President-elect Trump is to live your values every day. Help him understand that as your representative, he has a responsibility to carry out the values America holds dear. Be kind. Be inclusive. Eliminate prejudice. Demonstrate that xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, sexism, racism and isolationism are not part of the fabric of American culture. Neither is violence or anarchy.
America has strong protections and legal options for expressing different opinions. Use them.
The uniquely American form of democracy may have flaws, but it is an amazing system that provides for both the rights of the individual and the greater good. Protecting this democracy is worth the work it requires.
Stand up. Show up. Speak out. Boycott. Live well. But don’t destroy property or turn on your neighbor. Don’t be a hater. Bring change in a way that will make you, your children and your grand children proud.