When Donald Trump was elected in November, I was gutted. I didn’t sleep that night, and cried more than I’d like to admit over the next 24-48 hours. “President-Elect Trump” kept being repeated, and it felt like salt in the wound. And this is not because the Republican candidate won and I was pulling for the Democrat. And it was not because I proudly wore an “I’m With Her” t-shirt and button and was rooting for America to have its first female president.
The United States of America had just elected a man who terrifies me.
As an American living in Canada, I can’t tell you the number of times over the last 12-18 months I’ve been asked about Donald Trump. “Is this guy actually going to win?” people would ask. “Why does he have so much support?” At first, I would laugh it off – – “I have more faith in Republicans than for him to actually get the nomination – he’s nuts!” and “Well it’s not like he can actually get elected” I’d reply. I obsessively watched fivethirtyeight as the graph got scarier and scarier, and then less and less so.
As the election day neared, and he was the Republican candidate and debated Secretary Clinton, I watched the debates with a glass (or three) of wine and would get angry. I listened to commentary on CNN and would yell at my radio – – “THIS IS NOT NORMAL” I’d yell. How could this man have such support? So much of what he said was factually false, and so little of it was taken to task. Not even debatable – not “grey” or “half truth,” but just… not based in reality or fact. At all.
I’ve heard it said that Trump supporters took his words “seriously but not literally,” while the rest of us took his words “literally but not seriously.” And I think that really, that seems to sum it up.
And yet, he’s won. He’s going to be our president.
I’ve moved past mourning, and have tried to move into action. I’ve already contacted the Democrats Abroad and am looking to ways I can get more involved moving forward. Adam and I have vowed to do what we can to make a positive difference and counteract some of the terrifying things we are seeing. My extended family decided to forego Christmas gifts for the adults this year and instead donate to causes in the US that can help. As for Adam and I, we’ve given what we can to:
- The Sierra Club – to help protect the environment from a man and administration who believe climate change is a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”
- Planned Parenthood – to help protect women’s basic health care and rights from someone who clearly doesn’t have a clue about how an abortion actually works (btw, no babies are “ripped from the womb the day before they are due” – that’s called childbirth).
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – to help protect civil liberties and make sure basic rights that Trump doesn’t seem to understand are protected.
- Anti-Defamation League – to help fight against anti-Semitism as leaders in the alt right (*cough* Neo-Nazis *cough*) are emboldened and given cabinet positions.
- Communities in Schools – to help provide a bridge to education and fight against drop out rates. Maybe a higher educated populous is the biggest thing we need right now.
I’m not sharing this to look good or for a pat on the back. I’m sharing this to encourage you to do the same. We can’t stand back and expect things to change on their own – we have to be that change. We have to get involved – make phone calls (calls to your state and federal representatives *can make a difference*). Voice your concerns and peacefully protest when needed. Make it clear that we will not stand for racism. We will not stand idly by while rights are dismantled. And we must fund the groups doing that work.