On Friday, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States when he takes the oath of office in front of the Capitol Building. For many, their gut instinct is to hide under a pillow as our country trades a thoughtful, caring statesman for a irritable, orange television personality. But I believe Trump’s inauguration is a call to action. As much as I wish almost anyone other than Trump was being sworn in to lead our country, I believe this moment in our history will serve as an important reminder to not take our progress for granted.
During his several appearances over the last few weeks, still-President Barack Obama has made being a liberal president look easy, even effortless. Certainly, in his two campaigns against John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, Obama’s charm— at least, from the perspective of his supporters — obfuscated the incredible challenges that go into social, economic and environmental progress. While the herculean efforts of Obama’s presidential campaigns kept him in power, tepid responses in the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014 saw Obama increasingly hamstrung by conservative forces in Congress. Trump’s victory is our most potent reminder to date that we can’t ever stop fighting.
To that end, here are seven ways you can turn Inauguration Day from a day of potential wallowing into a day of action.
1Join A Protest, Demonstration or March
This may be the most obvious, but it's important to underscore the power of people showing up in large numbers has. Check out Bustle's summary of Inauguration Day protests here.
2Contact Your Representatives (And Make Sure You Know Who They Are)
As much as we should all fear what's coming down the pike from the Trump administration, it's important to remember that most governing that affects our day-to-day lives happens on the local and state level. Use Inauguration Day as an occasion to find out who your local, state and Congressional representatives are, and write, email, tweet, or call each of them to let them know where you stand. Don't know who your reps are? Enter your address and zip code here and find out!
3Utilize Social Media To Support Other Activists And Spread Your Message
If we learned one thing from this election, it's that our country has become extremely polarized, to the point where people with different political opinions aren't even talking to one another, in real life or on social media. While it's easy for online arguments to get out of hand, if you can't make it to a protest, consider taking a few minutes to carefully, calmly and clearly communicate your feelings about Trump's presidency to your friends and family (and avoid attacking others).
4Give To Organizations That Fight Back
With the Republican party in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, many are anticipating a massive rollbacks in government spending for crucial programs. One way to counteract this is to give to organizations that advocate for the causes that will be the hardest hit. Top contenders include Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Trevor Project, but there are hundreds of national and local charities that could use your help.
While we all like to think we are informed consumers of news, Americans are much more likely to just read headlines than to dig down deep into complicated issues. Change that by selecting a topic or two that you wish you knew more about and seek out articles and videos to help you become an expert.
6Find A Local Organization To Volunteer With
In addition to financial support, many organizations rely on volunteer power to help accomplish their goals. Consider signing up with a local food bank, soup kitchen, public school, homeless shelter, or advocacy group that needs support. To get started, check out Volunteer Match and Idealist to find volunteer opportunities.
7Register Yourself — And Others — To Vote
I know, I know, we just got through a harrowing election, but remember that there are local and state elections all the time. Republicans are more likely then Democrats to show up for these less-exciting elections, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey in 2017, and more than half of all the Governors will be up for reelection in 2018 (not to mention a third of the Senate and the entire House). This is to say nothing about local city council elections, school board elections, and state legislature elections. To find out how to register in your state, click here. And once you're done registering yourself (or updating your registration) get your friends to register, too — especially those you know are less likely to do it on their own.