If you’re not a Trump supporter, it’s time to get to work.
Forget about the Friday after Thanksgiving. If you’re not a fan of Donald Trump, January 20th will be the real Black Friday. That’s the day that Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
Regardless of your own personal politics, you have to admit that we’re living in an incredibly divisive moment in American history. While millions of Americans believe deep down that Trump can make America “great” again (hashtag #MAGA), there are just as many Americans — perhaps more if you consider the popular vote — who are legitimately terrified of having Trump as the leader of the free world.
However, Trump won, and his party, the GOP, retained control of the House and Senate, so there is this pervasive sense of “What the hell can we do?!” amongst those who oppose Trump’s politics and policies.
Fortunately, there ARE ways you can make your voice heard, even if you voted for Hillary.
If you want to stop complaining into the Facebook echo chamber and actually accomplish something, one of the best tools that’s available right now is The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen by Gene Stone.
A long-time author and editor, Stone reacted to his election disappointment in the most constructive way possible. He put his head down and wrote a practical, pragmatic guide to how normal Americans can fight back if their worst fears for a Trump presidency come to pass. (He also wrote a Bush Survival Bible back in 2004.)
Books like these are important because, let’s be honest, NO ONE wants to be subjected to four years of impotent opposition social media rants. The fact is — we’re going to be living in a Trump-led America, whether we like it or not. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some concrete steps people can take to make the country better, even if they think our new president is terrible at his job.
(And, if he turns out to be better-than-expected, that’ll just be a happy surprise.)
If you’re not sure how you’re going to survive the next four years, here are 6 constructive ways you can stop feeling powerless (and start getting stuff done) during a Trump presidency:
1. Figure out what’s important to you.
While it’s tempting to think “EVERYTHING is important to me,” if you’re trying to bring about social change, it’s important to stay focused. You can’t address all of the country’s problems at the same time without losing your mind. So you will want to pick your battles.
In The Trump Survival Guide, Stone breaks down 12 of the biggest issues that are facing Americans today (and that might go through drastic changes under Trump’s administration) — civil rights, the economy, education, energy, entitlement programs, the environment, immigration, LGBTQ issues, national security, Obamacare, political issues, and women’s issues.
Chances are, some of those topics will feel more important to you than others (or you might have a more personal connection to some). Find something you feel the most passionate about and focus your attention on it, if you want to actually get anything done.
2. Act locally.
Enacting change on the national (or international) level can be almost impossible for an individual or even for small activist groups to accomplish on their own. That’s why it’s important to push for changes locally first.
If you feel like Trump’s policies are hurting your community, you need to work to transform your community into a place that better reflects your values. That may involve being active in local elections, volunteering, supporting new candidates for office — or it might just be as simple as standing up for the less fortunate.
Ideally, if you can show people the value of empathy and activism on a local level, they might be more inclined to vote for politicians with similar values in upcoming elections, which will enact change on a broader level.
3. Help pick up the slack.
If Trump’s new Secretary of Education cuts public school funding, volunteer in your local district. If they repeal the Affordable Care Act (without a viable replacement), donate some time at a free clinic. If Trump tries on pass draconian new immigration laws, you can support groups like the Border Angels that assist new immigrants in various ways.
Your personal time and attention might not totally make up for a group losing millions in federal funding, but it will HELP, and that matters more than you know.
4. Learn how to protest better.
Activism and political protests CAN make huge differences IF they’re done in the right way. If your idea of protest is posting angry memes to your personal Facebook page all day, you’re probably not doing much more than preaching to the choir.
However, we’ve already seen examples of how, in 2017, Americans have altered a House decision to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of its powers by organizing and calling their elected representatives en masse.
Grassroots activism can work if it’s organized and focused on tangible results. In an interview in Newsweek, Gene Stone noted that progressives can stand to take a lesson from Tea Party protests during Obama’s administration, saying “[The Tea Partiers] are relentless, they never stop, they work and they work and they work to get their agenda accomplished. … Progressives need to learn to do the same thing.”
5. Educate your family and friends.
This can be difficult, particularly in an era where everyone is throwing the term “fake news” at anything they disagree with. While you have to be careful when it comes to posting news stories online — one questionable conclusion and your Trump-loving uncle will never let you hear the end of it — it is important to keep searching for the truth and holding your loved ones accountable when they make erroneous statements.
If they claim a CNN story about Trump is politically motivated, challenge them to prove why. If they’re ambivalent about getting rid of Obamacare, remind them that there’s a chance that 22 million Americans might lose their health coverage.
You’ll have to work to keep yourself honest too — there are plenty of false and flawed stories coming from “liberal” sources too — but we all need to keep ourselves searching for the truth and not blindly accepting whatever Washington or the media wants us to believe.
6. Treat everyone with respect.
In the conclusion of The Trump Survival Guide, Stone makes a point that every American needs to hear — regardless of their political affiliation. He argues that, “more than working on an issue that concerns you, more than joining a demonstration, and more than signing a petition, perhaps the best way to fight to keep this country a land of dignity and freedom is to show civility and support to all Americans, whatever their gender, race, creed, or color.”
We can’t all rewrite trade policy or negotiate deals with China personally, but we can go out into our country and treat every American how we HOPE Donald Trump will treat them too. We need to show the world, through the courage of our convictions, that the people in the United States do not support racism, discrimination, or profiling of any sort.
If Trump ends up supporting those views, more power to him. But, if he doesn’t, we all need to show the world that our elected officials do not always accurately represent the hearts of the electorate. And the best way we can do that is by offering our fellow Americans, even if we disagree with them, a little empathy and respect.
We can all make that America a reality and help our more perfect union survive anything, even four years of Donald Trump.
If you’re interested in learning even more practical things you can do to counter-act the worst of Trump’s presidency OR if you're looking for a present to calm and empower a loved one who's having a hard time coping with the idea of President Trump, Gene Stone’s “The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen” is now for sale by HarperCollins.