On December 20th, Donald Trump finally lived up to his potential: full governmental chaos and confusion. Federal agencies will likely close because Coulter and Limbaugh called his border wall weak. His Secretary of Defense resigned over a foreign policy both incoherent and dangerous. The stock market he has long touted now explores how fast and far it can fall. What next?
For political activists and advocates determined to preserve the idea of America as an open, accepting, rational and sane country, the answer is simple: work. We won’t always share the same vision, and we won’t always agree on tactics. But I can’t think of many times in our history when advocacy mattered more.
Part of our job will be pressuring elected officials — particularly Republicans — to live up to the standards they claim to uphold. We’ll rally, we’ll email, we’ll tweet, we’ll post, we’ll call and we’ll show up at their desks, but that’s only part of the job. We also need to take on the responsibility of changing the minds of our fellow citizens one by one.
Fox News and a supine Republican Establishment have enabled Trump, but so have tens of millions of our neighbors. Their votes put him into office and their support gives him the confidence to act on his dark impulses. We can’t reach all of them, and we can’t persuade more than a fraction of them. But we have to try, or we’re only going to sink deeper into division and distrust.
So as we navigate a truly disturbing time, don’t just speak to the choir — reach out to people on the edge of the Trumpland who may be having second thoughts. Advocacy groups can do it on a large scale, through canvassing, social media, digital advertising and all the other tools we’ve spent decades developing. Individual advocates can do it in our own lives: at the dinner table, on the phone, on Facebook, at church or at the bar. If we want to live in a country that we recognize as America, the responsibility is ours to persuade enough of us to save it.
Original photo: Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, by Gage Skidmore