We marched, we went to airports, we wrote endless letters and postcards, made phone calls to our representatives in Washington, and were active on social media. Yet some people who we see as unqualified or who want to tear down the government safety net are getting positions of power. On the one hand this is to be expected. In our system the party in power gets to choose its advisors. On the other hand it’s discouraging, when all the rules and regulations that we worked so hard for are soon to be dismantled. It is particularly discouraging when we do not have faith in the abilities and understandings of those in power. It is easy to lose hope and energy.
One of the lessons we have learned is that voting does not make democracy. We saw this in the Arab spring and now see it at home. We make democracy. It is our vigilance and participation which ensures that the power of our leaders and those they appoint is curtailed.
Another lesson we have learned is individually we have little impact. Collectively we are noticed,especially if we live in a politician’s district, donate to them, or work for them.
Lastly we see that simple labels don’t work. Not all Republicans support Trump and we need to find a way to talk to those who also see that, at least some of, his actions are un-American. We know the only way we can have a long term effect, is to work with more moderate Republicans. No politician will agree with every one of us all the time, we must accept imperfection; just as we do in our friendships and marriages.
We are only five weeks into the Trump administration; we are already getting tired but we know that we need to be engaged and continue to be engaged even as we have one lose after another. It is the only way in which we can have democracy.
So how does one keep going?
1. Stay in touch with others who are also politically active.
2. Make sure to keep each other’s spirits up. Talking about failure doesn’t help —we can’t fail, our country, our children, our environment, our world is dependent on our strength.
3. Write down everything that you have done that has resulted in some actual change. Keep the list and look at it. Don’t focus on what you have lost. There are going to be too many loses, we need to keep going. Remember what you see as a loss someone else sees as a gain. Try to find out why . Few issues are without winners and losers. Try to mitigate the loss to others, and amplify the gains you believe enhance our country for all.
4. Talk virtually or in person with moderate Republicans, we need to begin a dialogue with those in Red States. They can not be written off, they vote.
5. Note special elections. Your candidate may not win, but if s/he garners many votes the Republicans will notice. Votes are the capital of democracy. In Georgia there is a special election coming up to fill Rep. Prices’ seat. Support Jon Ossoff. This will send a clear message to Republicans that their constituents are not happy with the current state of affairs.
6. Don’t focus only on the president. Keep an eye on and respond to what the Republican House and Senate are attempting to do and not do. You may be able to make a change there or at least stop some legislation which is odious to you.
7. When one of the Republicans speaks up and votes for country over party, write them a thank you note. They need to know that they are being supported. Keep it short, Long letters don’t get read.
8. Take a walk, laugh with a friend, watch a TV program, read a book, jog—just don’t let this consume you and eat you up. Anger and hate can eat into our souls. Turn that anger into power by participating on line or in person in the political process. Think about running for office.
9. Don’t fret about communicating in the best way to our representatives. Write, email, phone; mostly those who receive the letters count numbers of those for and against regardless of the form of communication you use.
10. Save some energy for things that do matter, showing up, getting out the vote, working for a candidate, and voting yourself. We need to be here for the long haul.
We can still be a source of hope to the world. Leaders can only lead if we follow. We can show that the people and only the people can check (reduce) the power of leaders. We may not be able to completely limit their power, but we certainly can make it difficult for them to trample on our rights and those of others. Our constitution works only if we work.