Take the obligatory time to grieve, be butthurt, and let the tears and accusations fly; but then get to work, because there’s still a lot things we can do to minimize damage and (hopefully) better ourselves and our country over the next four years.
I wish I could say I was surprised by the election results, but I’m not. I do recognize, however, that the next few years are going to be a lot more precarious than I had hoped they would be. While we can and should be shocked and appalled, we need to start getting proactive now. While there will be untold devastation from this election, we can still use it as a catalyst for positive changes.
Here are ten doable suggestions for maintaining our sanity and minimizing damage for the next four years:
- Vote with your dollars. We can’t Ctrl + Z this election, but we can vote with our dollars. When possible, support local/small businesses, stores, banks, etc. (keeping money in the state/city will allow local governments to absorb the shock of federal cuts). If big box stores and the like are the only option, research their political affiliations and avoid giving your money to those who supported Trump. If there’s a larger city an hour or two away, try to do as much of your shopping/business there once a month or so.
- Stop supporting Big Food. Yeah, I’m mildly obsessed with diet choices at this point, but hear me out. I’ve frequently heard Trump described as the embodiment of Cheetos and his supporters are primarily from areas with diets consisting mostly of processed, starchy, sugary, meat-laden food. Limiting or avoiding these purposely-designed-to-be-addictive foods will give you more energy, improve your health and mood, and be another way to vote with your dollars.
- Reduce your Carbon Footprint as much as possible. It’s depressing as hell to me that one half of the country views a huge, looming catastrophe as a non-issue, but they’re the ones in charge now, so we gotta be the change we want to see. Take public transportation when possible, batch errands, turn off the lights, those types of things. Not only do we need to renew our commitment to doing this, we need to advocate for the tangible benefits (more productive commutes, lower electric bills, etc.) for folks undeterred by climate change.
- Avoid mindless entertainment as much as possible. Let’s be clear: one of the primary reasons that Trump got elected is because he’s an entertainer and Americans love to be entertained. Avoid reality shows, celebrity gossip, the worst parts of social media, and anything else designed to keep you sedentary, placid, and addicted. I avoid TV altogether – but I know most folks aren’t willing to go that far. Keep “guilty pleasures” to a minimum and get your news from credible sources.
- Avoid mindless consumption. In addition to food and entertainment, we’re constantly bombarded with offers for a bunch of useless crap such as clothes and gadgets. Stop buying this stuff and use the money you saved for a better cause, which brings me to…
- Be an impactful donor/volunteer. This is probably the best and most important way we can vote with our dollars. Wherever there’s the potential for damage under this administration, we need to give our money and/or time to the organizations that will counteract this damage as much as possible. Do your homework to vet organization and then support them however you can. We’ll need to support organizations that promote civil rights, climate science/environmental protection, healthcare, services for low-income individuals, etc.
- Commit to be a mature voter. If you voted for a third-party candidate or opted out of voting, I hope you’ve learned your lesson (I don’t think we should spend a lot of time blaming certain voters, but I think POC and other vulnerable folks have every right to rip into these type of mostly White people…) If you don’t already, commit to voting in every election (including primaries), do your homework for each one, and be prepared to choose the “lesser of the X evils.”
- Get involved in politics at various levels. I can assure that right now, people are already thinking of how to undo the damage of this election in 2018 and 2020. Start researching, supporting and/or communicating with elected officials and future candidates. Always keep in mind that what works on a local level might not work on a national level and make the most informed choices that you can.
- Learn how to navigate “the system” and show others how to do it. If there are cuts to social benefits, we need to learn how to still function in the system as best we can. While people at all economic levels will be potentially affected by this, the economically vulnerable will be especially harmed. Anyone who has access to knowledge about these systems has an obligation to share this with others.
- Take care of yourself. While I know several folks talking about leaving the country, the fact of the matter is that most of us will have to stay here and ride out the storm of the next four years (and make sure that it truly is only four years – Bush II was a two-term president, if you remember). But in order to do all the necessary things, the ones I’ve listed above and countless others, we need to stay alive and stay well. Avoid self-medicating with drugs/alcohol, get plenty of sleep/exercise, relax as needed, and unplug from the news media when necessary.
My goal over the past few years has been to lead a happy, healthy, authentic life. While I still intend to pursue that goal, I have to recognize that people’s happiness, health, and even lives are on the line. As painful as it is right now, we need to hold onto that feeling and use it as a catalyst for positive change and to motivate us to continue once the initial shock and outrage have worn off. Everyone be safe, be well, and be compassionate – even and especially to those who don’t share our views.
Is there anything else that you can think of to add to this list?