A/N: as of now (9:45pm) the race has not officially been called – but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that things will turn out well. At this point I’d love to have to eat my words, but right now i am preparing for the worst.
As I sit here watching the results roll in, it’s looking like the worst case scenario is actually playing out: Trump is leading, and it’s looking like republicans are almost certain to keep the senate – combine that with their continued grip on the house, and that means a unified republican government, in a time where the republican party is in the throes of record radicality and irrationality. Plus an uncontested congress means they have nearly free reign on that supreme court nomination that’s up for grabs, which means a potential conservative domination on all three branches of american government. Markets worldwide are crashing pretty badly in response to the election results, which will also mean potentially rocky financial times to come.
I’m sure there will be rumblings of a Trump impeachment, but be aware that that doesn’t actually offer much hope – even if it actually happened and went through (unlikely), that just leaves Mike Pence in office, who if anything is even more dangerous – he has the same radical anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT policies, he’s just also rational and competent enough to make them happen.
So, things may be about to get very bad, especially for the most marginalized and at risk. That said, before we get too sunk into despair, there are things you can do to help.
1. Get involved in local politics
While we won’t have a chance to retake the presidency for another four years, senate and house elections occur every two years. Elections for state legislature representatives and municipal elections (mayors and city councils) will also be happening, possibly even sooner.
These elections are often ignored by many people because they are less ‘sexy’, but they’re just as important – a progressive congress or a progressive state legislature can serve as protective insulation against a conservative executive branch. For example, states and local governments can pass legislation to increase minimum wages, mandate better insurance policies, or increase welfare support even if the federal government starts cutting back in those areas – but this also means that a conservative local political presence can make things work.
In addition, local politicians are more sensitive to the input of individual voters – a president may ignore all input from random letter writers or callers, but to a local city council person, a few loud voices on an issue may be all it takes to sway their opinion.
Concrete actions you can take:
- Start researching your local representatives and look up their contact information.
- Sign up for updates on city council meetings and public hearings – even if you can’t go to that kind of thing (most of us don’t go regularly), you want to know if important decisions are coming up.
- Look up details on your local elections – when are city council elections? How is the mayor chosen? What are your house and senate districts? When do each of those districts next go up for election?
- Sign up to campaign for local progressive candidates.
- Got an issue you have an opinion on? Write your local representatives. Email your local representatives. Call your local representatives on the phone. Make your voice heard.
2. Fight for voter rights and electoral reform
Somewhat as a corollary to the above points, now is the time to fight for reforms in voting to make district borders fairer and voting more accessible. One of the reasons republicans are dominating so much now is because gerrymandered districts favor republican congressional incumbents and voter suppression tactics have driven down minority voter turnout, especially in the wake of the repeal of the Voting Rights Act. In order to break these barriers down before the next election, we need to start working on these now.
(Also looking forward, now is the time to explore reforms to the primary system, the possibility of ranked voting, or the abolition of the electoral college)
3. Throw money (or time) at important progressive organizations
Just as local representatives can offer some protection when the federal government goes sour, private organizations can step in with services where public government fails. In addition, progressive organizations can do important political lobbying and legal activism to both fight bad changes (by suing unconstitutional laws) and push for good ones (by lobbying those representatives who can be swayed).
For those of us who have cash to spare, donations to these organizations can be one way of fighting back – especially if you have a workplace that offers any form of corporate matching (look into that!). Some of these organizations may also need volunteer manpower for running operations or helping with lobbying or fundraising – you can reach out to local chapters and see what they need.
These organizations are also good sources of information on what’s going on, what you need to be worried about, and what you can do to help.
A handful major organizations who I personally recommend supporting are below – feel free to suggest more in the comments, especially if there are any that have been especially helpful to you personally (this is not an exclusive list – there are many more good orgs than I can list):
- Planned Parenthood – sexual and reproductive health, women’s health, abortion services, HRT, health services for rural areas
- American Civil Liberties Union – important legal work to protect civil liberties and fight against discrimination in all areas
- National Center for Lesbian Rights – important legal and political activism for LGBT people (not just lesbians!)
- National Center for Trans Equality – important legal and political activism for trans rights
- Southern Poverty Law Center – important anti-bigotry and anti-discrimination legal and political work
Also, look up and support your local progressive organizations! Local organizations – both independent local orgs and local chapters of national organizations – provide many immediate on the ground personal services like housing and healthcare that have the most impact on people’s daily lives. (I’m just listing national orgs here because local orgs will be different for everyone).
4. Check in with your friends and family
Check in with the people important to you and keep tabs on those you know who may be most vulnerable – when government fails and large orgs can’t help, friends and family are the last line of defense. Be ready to reach out to friends who need your support (where you are capable of it), whether it’s legal advice or chipping in with finances or emotional support or just finding someone to safely get drunk with as we all commiserate and prepare for a miserable and anxious four years.
Anyway. This is just a few wild suggestions to keep us from falling into despair while we’re all still reeling from the news; if any of you have your own input, or just want a place to commiserate and vent, please feel free to chime in down below.