If you're upset that Donald Trump is our 45th president, you're not alone. I am, too. It's still a little strange saying, hearing, and well, typing, "President Trump". He wasn't my first choice, but it is what it is. I accept it, just like I did in 2008, when then-President Obama was our 44th president. He wasn't my first choice, either, so, I know what it feels like to be at best blasé, at worst, terrified. I get it. But I also know how to move beyond the blech and use a presidency not of my choosing to grow, and challenging you to do the same!
Back in 2009, I went through that "everything Obama does sucks because he's not my president" phase. I admit it. Then I stopped. I am wont to be effective, as opposed to behaving like I'm 5, throwing a fit and pouting because I didn't get my way. It's ineffective and exhausting. Maybe you've grown up with participation medals and "tee-tee" as opposed to learning that not everybody wins, Ivory tastes horrible and while a hot hand, a belt, or a paddle on your backside hurts, it will very likely deter you from doing whatever you did to earn it, again. Actions have consequences, or they ought to, anyway. If you missed that lesson, welcome to it. If you got that lesson, welcome back.
It's rough when one day the president is saying and doing things with which you agree, and the next day he is decidedly not. If you came of age during the Obama administration, I understand your shock. I can understand your utter meltdown. Everything has most likely been unicorns and rainbows for you these past 8 years. If you're old enough to have been cognizant of what was going on when Bush, Clinton or HW were president, let me be blunt. Grow up! You know better than this!! I realize that you've been asleep for 8 years because "your guy" was president, but it's time to wake up! You were a political bobble head for 8 years, yessing Obama at every turn, for whatever reason. Again, nap time is over.
There are three important points to be made here. One, you will live through this. Two, your candidate losing an election is not a crisis or a tragedy. 9/11, the Challenger explosion and Kennedy's assassination were tragedies. Your candidate not being elected president, not so much! And three, there's a line of succession to the presidency. HRC is nowhere in that line, but that's another article entirely!
Oh, and for what it's worth, speaking as someone over 30 who has lived through both Republican and Democratic administrations, you are going to live through the next four years. The details of your life notwithstanding, politically, you will survive.
When my candidate lost, I had to learn to pick my battles. I had to choose between happiness and being "correct". Being happy won out, after I learned that fighting to be correct made me miserable, not to mention it's exhausting. I've learned that screaming online isn't going to get me very far in trying to convince others to my position. Neither is name calling. When I speak, I need to make sure my position is well-informed, for my sake and theirs, whether theirs is or not. I have learned that having the "enemy" in office forces me to think, read up, and get educated for real (as opposed to being a political bobblehead). I can't just rubber stamp everything because "my guy" is in the Oval. In fact, I have an even bigger responsibility because he's "my guy". Make sense?
So here are some tips for surviving a Trump presidency.
Be Willing to be Wrong
It's a fact. Nothing grows in your comfort zone, including your politics. You have to be challenged in order to grow. In politics, when the president is "your" president, you get complacent, you excuse "small things" because he's "your guy". Some people hold "their" president to account, but most coast and fall into a political coma. You feel like "he has this", so you relax and do other things. As an aside, would you excuse it if he wasn't "your" guy? Then it's not OK.
I've learned a lot these last 8 years in particular. To do that, I had to be willing to listen and learn. I had to be willing to be wrong. I had to be willing to say "that's not how I'd do it but...it accomplishes a worthy goal." Or, "whether I like it or not, it's constitutional."
The best way to get through this next 4 years is to question yourself, your beliefs. Be willing to see things from a different point of view. Be willing to be wrong.
Be Willing to Listen
I know it's rough when the person you wanted loses. I've been there, and, I've lived to tell about it. The upside of opposition, however, is it provides an opportunity for critical examination of one's beliefs. Be willing to listen. To a voice that grates on your last nerve, to ideas that make you cringe, to supporters espousing the joys of a policy, even as fear creeps in, and you want to scream loudly, or type furiously. Be willing to listen. To your internal truth, and to people with whom you vehemently disagree. What do you absolutely need to know? What are you actually afraid of?
Think, and be willing to listen to understand. We often freak out because we're wrapped up in the how. Get out of the "how" and listen to understand, not to respond.
Be Willing to Learn
I read the ACA. It was boring, but a necessary read if I was going to argue against it. I read more legislation during the Obama administration than I did through college, and it was required in college! But, I wasn't going to be mad for the sake of it. That's silly, and exhausting. I genuinely disagreed, using healthcare as an example, with requiring everyone to carry health insurance for the sake of it, as a requirement of citizenship, and being fined if you can't afford to have health insurance you can't use. Those were just two of pages worth of issues I had with the ACA. I didn't care how it read, I cared about what it did. I didn't care that it was Obama's "legacy", I cared that it was going to do far more harm than good, and I knew that because I actually read it.
Instead of just knee jerk reacting, re-tweeting, sharing, re-posting because you agree with something, take the time to check it. Is it true? Is it spin? Are they really repealing this law, drastically changing that one?
You might be surprised with what you find, and if you discover you're wrong, be brave enough to admit it. And yes, for what it's worth, the media tries to scare and influence you. Finally, the measure of the truth of any given piece of information is not whether or not you concur.
BE the Change
So here's my challenge. Actually, it's two-fold.
First, when you see something from your favorite news source du jour, whether it be ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Washington Times, Salon.com, or any of the other "news" websites, blogs or information channels, before you re-post it, cross check it. There are lots of satirical sites that are not nearly as obvious as The Onion. Also, many of them grab information off RSS feeds and assume that if it came from CNN, or Reuters, for example, it's been fact checked. Sadly, that's no longer true in many cases. Do your own fact-checking.
Secondly, don't re-post it just because you agree with the POV it espouses. When you see a story on CNN, as an example, go see what, if anything, Fox News or Reuters, or the Associated Press, is saying about the same thing. And vice versa. Also, don't feed the fear monster. We often re-post something because it confirms a fear we have, or because it agrees with our point-of-view, without actually reading it. Actually read it.
Finally, do you want to change things over the next 4 years? Don't buy into the demagoguery and hype. Pick your cause and research it thoroughly. Be willing to be wrong, be willing to learn and be willing to listen. Then be willing to put your time, money, and/or energy where your mouth is. It's cliché but it's true: Be the change you wish to see in this world.