Two weeks ago, a few days after the election, I published a post that put out a tiny tendril of unsubstantiated hope. I said that we liberals have to move on and give Trump a chance.
I stand corrected.
I did actually expect Trump to extinguish my hopes. I just didn’t know he would do that so promptly, even before he took office. I reeled with shock and horror as he announced his first set of appointees. Stephen Bannon, Chief Strategist, white supremacist and leader of the alt-right. Jeff Sessions, Attorney-General, denied federal judgeship for racism. Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, Islamophobe and supporter of torture.
Fuck fuck fuck. There are times when profanity is called for. This is such a time.
Trump has not only appointed right-wingers, he has appointed the ones most likely to terrify minorities. At the very least, this shows that President Trump will not be different from candidate Trump. More likely, it demonstrates that he will translate words into actions and pursue a white-supremacist agenda.
I thought I had managed to get through the five stages of post-election grief to acceptance. But I was actually in denial — not about Trump being president, but about the consequences. I still maintain that, unlike some of Trump’s supporters, the Republicans who are my friends are not bigots. But I believe that they, too, are in denial.
There is a word that I have learned recently — “normalization”. It is the social process through which extreme ideas and actions come to be seen as normal. This article makes a cogent argument that, as the days after the election created anxiety and despair within us, as the calls to mental health professionals and support groups multiplied, we started using normalization to try and protect our sanity.
Normalization is psychic armor. It is a survival strategy.
But there is nothing normal about Trump, or the direction in which he will lead this country. As I came to terms with this, I struggled to figure out what actions I could take. Being open and reasonable was not the answer.
I could not bring cupcakes to a gun-fight.
So what could I do? The first answer I got came from John Oliver, who is intelligent and funny in equal parts, whom I always love and never more than now. At 19:20 in the video below, he tells us that one action we could take would be to donate to the causes that support human rights and the environment, causes that need our help more now than ever. (I do recommend you watch the whole video — getting a good laugh right now will do you so much good.)
So I donated (or increased my donations), and will continue to donate. These are the organizations that I support with pride: Friends of the Earth, because climate change is still the most potent danger facing the world. ACLU, that works to protect the human rights of all Americans. The International Refugee Assistance Project, to help all those refugees that will now be be denied entry to the United States. The Trevor Project, that provides a suicide prevention hotline for the LGBTQ community. Planned Parenthood, because they will lose funding as our reproductive rights are rolled back. NPR, because well-researched independent journalism is critical.
I also intend to participate in the proposed Women’s March on Washington, due to be held the day after Trump’s inauguration The pragmatist in me is still wondering what good such demonstrations can do. But you know what? History proves me wrong. Besides, as a friend told me, not everything we do is for a specific outcome. Why do we have children? Watch sunsets? Cuddle pets? I may not be able to foresee the results of all the demonstrations that are yet to come during the next 4 years, but I believe we have to do everything possible to protect our country.
There are times when resistance and action are called for. This is such a time.