Today, a new frontier opens up in American politics, as the Trump administration becomes a reality. Understandably, the anxiety and tension is palpable everywhere you go, and there is a legitimate fear for what is to come.
At the same time, this new reality should motivate us to collectively organize and work toward forming a resilient resistance. It is only through the radical commitment to upholding and protecting the transcendental values we hold dear that we can overcome Donald Trump and all the frightening things he represents.
- Take nothing for granted. Every right you have, every privilege you have earned, and every resource at your disposal should be exhausted and exercised to its fullest now. Do not assume you will always have these things.
- Read voraciously. Yale historian Timothy Snyder recommended some readings on his Facebook page, to prepare for the Trump era: The Origins of Totalitarianism Hannah Arendt; The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz; The “Rebel”: An Essay on Man in Revolt by Albert Camus; The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central Eastern Europe by Vaclav Havel and John Keane. I would add to this list any books by George Orwell, especially 1984; two of Snyder’s own books, namely Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning and Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin; Hannah Arendt’s Men in Dark Times; Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, and Eugene Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros.
- Defend institutions. Last week I published a piece on Muftah about how defending the institutions of liberal democracy means acting to ensure their functions are being carried out and that they uphold our values. This is critical now more than ever.
- Hold the media accountable. At Muftah, we have published pieces about the media’s normalization of Trump and the imperative to resist this. We must hold the media accountable by demanding that writers and journalists ask difficult questions and assiduously challenge Trump’s message, rather than uncritically amplifying it.
- Support progressive causes. Donate money to organizations and institutions working to implement progressive policy changes whether locally or federally. These organizations may face cuts in funding under a Trump administration and will require an engaged citizenry to help sustain their activism. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union are two such groups leading the anti-Trump resistance, which deserve our support.
- Get involved locally. In his farewell speech to the country, President Obama put it best:
That’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America — and in Americans — will be confirmed.
- Take steps to protect yourself. Be aware of the different ways through which you can protect your data and know all of your legal rights, whether you are flying or at a protest.
- Break social barriers. If you have never met members of a vulnerable group in America, look for ways to connect with them by going to events and programs you would not otherwise attend, and otherwise expand your worldview. In an age where the norm is to remain in a “bubble,” expansion is revolutionary.
- Demonstrate. Protest. In response to the Women’s March on Washington, there have been similar marches scheduled all over the world. These are important, bold, and ultimately historic acts of resistance. After they are over, be sure to find ways to take daily action for social justice whenever and wherever you can.
- Be hopeful. To lose hope is to surrender without a fight. We are all in this one together. Whenever I’m feeling hopeless, I like to remember the words of Anne Frank:
In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.