What Can I Do To Help During A Trump Presidency?

The marches have begun. They will grow much larger later, but we are seeking what each of us can do to help now.

Before going any further, let me make clear my own perspectives. First, we are working within an electoral system, the same one that Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Keith Ellison is a part of. And second, I intend to win within that arena, to turn this around.

If you accept those two premises, here is what I suggest.

Our first and absolute priority is to protect the vulnerable. On an individual basis, contact LGBT groups and offer support; what do they need? For immigrants, reach out to law schools and help set up a legal aid center. There are many, many women's groups to reach out to; there has literally never been a better time in American history to volunteer with Planned Parenthood, as well as sending them a donation. Get in touch with Muslim groups and mosques; offer support. Let them tell you what they need. Also reach out to Jewish groups and synagogues. Yes, the Nazis are back, emboldened by the current environment. Real Nazis, not just euphemisms: take a second right now and figure out what the eighth letter of the alphabet is. For years, all over the country people have been painting up "88". Plenty of them here in blue-state California, including modern, pluralistic Orange County. It stands for "Heil Hitler".

One thing I urge you not to do is to assault in any way, shape, or form, by word or by deed, nonviolent pro-Trump supporters. This is not from any burst of false good heartedness. Rather, the greatest weapon we have is commanding the moral high ground, especially if you intend to convince others of our cause. You give up that incredibly important power when you do otherwise; we can't afford that indulgence.

Which brings up what other steps to take. Again, let me state my perspective here. If it feels good to you, if some march or project feels good to you, it's probably not enough. Again, I want to win. And that takes difficult, unpleasant work.

Let's start with the hard to swallow news, and discuss how to change it. First of all, the swing voters, the ones who changed American history, were not who we supported. We thought it would be a wave of new voters; instead, turnout was slightly down; Bernie Sanders said, "The simple truth is a lot of the Democratic base did not come out to vote". We thought it would be Hispanic voters; instead they gave Trump a higher margin than they did Romney. We thought it would be women; working-class female voters supported Trump. The grim reality is that a switch in three states changed everything: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. And what carried these states were incredible margins from white males for Trump, especially among the least educated.

So our goal is clear, yet difficult: we need to strengthen our coalition (why did we lose Hispanic and women voters? What should we be doing differently?); at the same time as reaching out to the swing voters. How can we bring them in? What are their issues? How do you frame a persuasive and a progressive response? Yes, Democratic Party leaders will be having this discussion, but as individuals, we can help. First, use your brain power and develop smart analysis. Avoid self-justifying pieces ("we're the good guys, we did nothing wrong"); we need clear, insightful assessments and bright ideas on what to do differently. And those of you who work with media in all its forms, what appeals can we develop to turn swing voters around?

Now the real bad news. First, one point: the most important election coming up for some time is 2020, and not because we get another chance at the presidency. The Republicans have had a lock on the House of Representatives because they swept state houses in 2010, controlled reapportionment after the biennial census, and gerrymandered districts.

What can you do? If you live in a state where you feel secure, a California or Oregon or New York, reach out to someplace else. Take a look at the graphic in the article I've linked to. Find a state you want to help with. If it's close by and you can drive there, volunteer with progressive forces or with the Democratic Party. If it's beyond driving distance, call up and offer to help via the internet, and/or contribute. Above all, move out from your local scene if you can, and work somewhere else, help to convert the rest of the country. The electoral map must change, and it will only do that after hard, unappetizing effort. As I explained earlier, we need to win, not just feel good.

Finally, a small thing we can all do. The omega symbol is most often employed by Greek organizations such as fraternities and sororities. But electrical engineers use it in another way; it represents ohm. Which stands for resistance. I've ordered buttons and I'm getting magnets and a cap.

It's a little thing, but it shows solidarity, and lets other, in the know, realize that they're not alone. It's the least we can all do.