Trump Is President & Your Work Is Just Beginning

by Joseph D. Lyons
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

I assume Donald Trump is now president. Like the 60-plus Democratic representatives who skipped the Inauguration, I wasn't there (Donald's crushed, I know). Nor did I watch on TV — even if it was the yugest celebration ever. Sad! Maybe he'll tweet me with the full scoop on what I missed. But really, who cares? Rather than head to Washington, D.C. to celebrate and normalize his presidency, I spent the day protesting Trump. I hope you did too. Because now that Trump's sworn in, we need to get to work.

There's really no time to lose because the former host of a reality television show is really moving into the White House. That means we've got our work cut out to "keep America great" — or at least pretty good. The country's far from perfect, but we've been headed in the right direction these past eight years. We're finally talking seriously about police brutality and unjustified killings of black Americans. Trans Americans are protected on a national level for the first time ever. Dreamers can get jobs and stop worrying about deportation.

Or at least they could. On Friday, all that potentially changes. Instead of a supporter of progress running the country, we have Trump. So, first things first: We need to do all the things we didn't do before the election, to get Democrats in power everywhere. We need to step up our organization at the local, state, and national level. Work with nonprofits but don't forget the political side, too.

Remember the 2010 election? Just two years after electing Barack Obama to the presidency, we let the GOP take control of the House. That majority hasn't turned back in part because of redistricting at the state level. We need to turn states blue in preparation of the redistricting that will happen after the 2020 census. The presidency is important, but we need progressive candidates to win at all levels of government. That can only happen with your enthusiasm and everyone pitching in together to make it happen.

The presidency obviously matters though. If you're still with her, you won't have forgotten that a majority of Americans cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton. We can win again, and it will be more likely if we use the popular vote to do so. Two elections in two decades the Republicans won with this old, racist electoral system even though the people supported the Democrat. Organize in your state to pass a National Popular Vote bill. This is the best way to reform the system, and it doesn't need a constitutional amendment.

That's the bare minimum that we need to do when a Republican wins. It's what we should have been doing it since 2008 but we didn't. Now it's time to step up. But don't act like we just inaugurated John Kasich, either. Trump is not normal. It's not enough to win the House in 2018 and kick him out of office in 2020. He can do real damage in the intervening years.

As Maya Angelou told Oprah, "When people show you who they are, believe them." Trump spent the election telling us what he thought about minorities, particularly Mexican and Muslim Americans. He's also started insulting the nation's journalists, tweeted out accusations of "fake news," and talked about making it easier for politicians to sue the press.

So rather than wait and see if Trump pivots back toward unity, as a president for all Americans — as Kellyanne Conway keeps promising — we need to prepare for when he isn't. If we let him show his true colors, it may be too late. The press corps could already be kicked out of the White House and his controversial cabinet picks could be hard at work undoing all Obama's hard work on the climate, health care access, and you name it — all without the press as a watchdog.

So in addition to organizing to get Trump and the GOP out of driver's seat in Washington, consider how you can resist in the meantime. Use social media, call your senators and representatives, and go to protests. Consider giving a percentage of your income each month to a charity that protects the civil rights of your fellow citizens (and not-yet citizens) because the Justice Department might not anymore. Make yourself a social justice reading list and stick with it. Talk to everyone you know all the time about doing the same.

Don't for one second buy into Trumpism — and help remind others that they shouldn't either. This is not a complete list of solutions or acts of resistance — you, and those around you will come up with more. That's how we get through this. Not to borrow too much from Clinton's campaign, but we truly are "stronger together." Make your own network of progressive thinkers, mesh it with your community, and create a movement.

That's what we do now. So get to work.