Right now, your Facebook feed might be a mixture of celebration, depression, and determination — at least, that's my social media experience following the 2016 election summed up in three words. And, look, it's okay to feel upset about the outcome of the election. But it's not productive or helpful for our country to wallow in sadness for the next four to eight years. There are things we, as young adults, can do to set this country on a better path. So let's talk about what millennials can do for a better future.
It seems obvious, but apparently it's not: WE ALL NEED TO GET OUT AND VOTE. If that sounded angry, it's because I am angry. Following the results of the election, many of the liberal millennials wanted to pat themselves on the back because of the millennial electoral map that showed that if only millennials had voted, Hillary Clinton would have won the election by a landslide. We smugly congratulated ourselves and blamed the older generations for putting Trump in the White House. But the reality is, we didn't vote! Millennial voter turnout in 2016 was significantly lower than it was in 2012. It might be easier to point the finger at baby boomers, but the reality is we all are responsible for the way this election turned out. So, millennials, next Election Day, you need to get up off your couch or wherever you were this past Tuesday, go to your polling place, and VOTE.
There are a number of protests happening across the country right now, and if you're not happy with the outcome of this election, attending a protest could be a good way to express your frustrations. It might not change the fact that Donald Trump won the presidency, but it's important to use your voice. If picketing and shouting aren't your thing, there are a number of ways you can protest without actually attending a protest (and if you do attend one, make sure you're protesting safely).
3. Show Up For Local Government
Attend town council meetings and bring up issues that are important to you — you can actually talk to your elected officials there. How many of us have ever actually gone to a city council meeting? Probably not many. But it's important to get involved in local government. Contact your local and state elected officials and make your voice heard. Sometimes elections don't go the way you wanted or planned, but the beauty of living in a democracy is that we don't have to just sit back and watch what happens to our country — you have a voice, and you can use it.
4. Sign A Petition
Signing a petition is a ridiculously easy way to try to get the White House to hear your voice. Head over to petitions.whitehouse.gov to check out petitions on issues that matter to you — or create your own. If you sign one that gets at least 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House will respond in 60 days.
5. Have A Conversation
In times like these, it's easy to dismiss people you don't agree with and write off their opinions. But it's not helpful to bury your head in the sand — we need to understand "the other side," so to speak. The reality is that enough American voters voted for Donald Trump to put him in the White House, so we can't just dismiss reality. We need to understand precisely what got us here so that we can then move to fix it. I've seen a few of my Facebook friends asking for their friends who voted for Trump to comment and explain why, and I think that's one good way to open up a constructive dialogue, especially given that Facebook can often be an echo chamber where everyone expresses the same opinions.
6. Pick Up The Phone
The horror! I know most millennials are afraid of talking to an actual human on the phone (guilty), but it's time to toughen up. When you actually call your representatives on the phone (I know, what is that concept I just described), you will actually be able to tell them (or their staffers) about what issues are important to you. And if enough people call about a particular issue, it can serve as a call to action for your representative. Emily Ellsworth wrote an awesome Twitter thread explaining the importance of picking up the phone and talking to your representatives. In a nutshell, the phone is way more effective than writing letters (although writing letters is better than doing nothing at all).
7. Speak Up
To take a page out of the MTA's playbook, if you see (or hear) something, say something. For years, we've just sat there awkwardly when our grandpa said something racist at Thanksgiving, or been too afraid to intervene when someone said something sexist, or whatever the case may be. This ends now. Again, not standing up for marginalized people is what got us here. Truly ending bigotry has to start on a personal level, so it's time to start speaking out and having some uncomfortable conversations.
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