How to Be a Citizen in President Trump’s America
Donald J. Trump will become our 45th President of the United States. For those of us committed to public engagement, to battling climate change, to creating inclusive communities, it will be a challenging four years, to say the least. Early indications are not encouraging: Trump’s reported pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Myron Ebell, is a climate change denier. Other equally puzzling appointments will surely fellow. Hope, in other words, is in short supply right now, but hope is all we’ve got. As citizens of the country and the world, we’re duty bound to redouble our efforts to fight for a fairer, cleaner, more equitable world. Here’s some ways we can start the long road back:
GET OFF YOUR PHONE
Twitting is not activism. Posting a political rant on Facebook is not activism. Getting your cathartic kicks off watching Samantha Bee and John Oliver is not activism. It’s entertainment. Sometimes good entertainment, but having your opinions validated should not be confused with action. (Full confusion: I am guilty of all these things.)
TREAT YOUR NEIGHBORS WITH RESPECT AND KINDNESS
Right now we don’t have much influence on our political institutions—especially at the federal level—but we do control how we conduct our daily lives. We always have the capacity to improve our little patch of the planet. That’s a right, an opportunity, and a privilege.
GET POLITICALLY ACTIVE ON A LOCAL LEVEL
While Washington seems irreparably broken. democracy is alive and well at the grassroots. Community board meetings, planning boards, city council sessions, are often dull, frustrating and full of human folly. They can also be effective vehicles for action and change.
RUN FOR OFFICE
To effect real change, we need thousands of young people running on the local level. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton was right: it can never be about one person or one election cycle.
TAKE ACTION ON A DAILY BASIS
Your city, your neighborhood, your street, can always use your help.
PROTECT OUR FRAGILE DEMOCRACY BY EXERCISING YOUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
Write, read deeply, picket, organize, be vigilant. President-elect Trump’s campaign rhetoric was authoritarian. It is our patriotic duty as Americans to offer a counterbalance to those impulses.
WORK TO GET YOUR STATE OR CITY TO FILL THE LEADERSHIP VOID
Climate change can be fought at the state and city level. The state of California is a good model here. A bunch of California friends have been circulating on social media pieces on secession. To that I say: California, don’t secede; continue to lead.
MEET PEOPLE OUTSIDE YOUR IMMEDIATE SOCIAL/CULTURAL/AND POLITICAL BUBBLE
Social media is neither a panacea nor an evil. It is a tool, great for instantaneous communication; not so good for bridging deep divides. Social media, in fact, creates the illusion of connection. We’re “connected” to people who already think like us. Face to face political discussions, even acrimonious ones, tend to be more civil than spit ball matches on Twitter and Facebook.
DEFINE AND THEN DEFEND YOUR CORE VALUES
Featured image via ozy.com.