If there were any remaining doubts about the veracity of President Trump’s campaign promises, they have been quickly dismissed by the past weeks’ events.
Executive orders targeting refugees, “sanctuary” cities, the Dakota Access and KeystonePipelines, the Affordable Care Act, the so-called Mexico City policy (also known as the Global Gag rule), and the border wall, among others, sparked global outrage. It was both heartening and incredibly depressing to see the scale of our indignation played out in airports and street corners across the country this weekend. It has finally become clear that we no longer have the luxury of our complacency; protest is now a necessity.
But protesting alone is not a sustainable long-term strategy. This administration did not come to fruition by chance. It capitalized on systemic oppression and the seeds of white middle-class discontent sown years ago. It is dangerous, frankly, to underestimate the level of strategy that has gone into harvesting the fear and anger that continue to plague middle America as major industries move to automate production and their way of life disappears. We must counteract accordingly.
At the Women’s March on Washington, the sheer number of people shouting, “This is what democracy looks like,” gave strength to the notion that we’re in this together — the earth shook a little on January 21, 2017. But speakers at both the Women’s March in D.C. earlier this month and the Portland Jetport last Sunday (as 1500 people protested Trump’s proposed Muslim immigration ban) voiced the same point — this is going to be a long fight. We’re not just preparing ourselves for four years of Donald Trump, we’re gearing up for a lifetime of fighting fascism. We must have a cohesive strategy to stamp out the bigotry, xenophobia, racism, and systemic oppression that destabilize this country.
That process has already begun in many ways. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported a record $24.1M in donations this weekend. A pivotal component of activism must be continued funding of organizations like the ACLU, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), EarthJustice, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Native American Rights Fund, among others. These national organizations ensure we are representing the interests of our most vulnerable populations facing immediate hardship by this administration. They are essential to our resistance.
We must also work locally. We must support Maine-based organizations like the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, EqualityMaine, the Southern Maine Workers' Center, and the Maine Justice Foundation, among many others. There are Maine-based chapters of national organizations that require our time, money, and attention. Local advocacy is integral to substantive change.
We must hold local and state representatives accountable. We must support an ever-skeptical and robust media. We must recognize our own levels of privilege and champion those who do not possess the same status. We must engage in our civic duty by attending city council meetings. We must have uncomfortable conversations about race and oppression. We must educate ourselves about the role our nation plays in the global economy and the responsibilities that accompany our successes and our failures. We must focus our energy on sustainable action.
We must become citizens.
And perhaps most importantly, after a week of protesting assaults on our democracy, we must practice self-care. Physically and mentally, we must prepare ourselves for a test in endurance. After reading this column, take deep breaths and turn off your social media accounts. Make tea. Read a lighthearted novel. Go for a walk. Knit. Meditate. Do the hokey pokey.
Because tomorrow, and every day from here on out, we’ll be resisting, and we need allies who can fight.