My preliminary thought as a monster is made leader of one of the most influential countries in the world is that there is work to be done. Some of that work, yes, is grieving, and being afraid, and being angry, and letting yourself feel whatever you need to feel. But once you’ve felt (or while you feel), there are many concrete steps to be taken now, tomorrow, and over the next four years. Below you’ll find concrete actions of resistance we can all take. Many are collected from other writers and organizers and thinkers on the internet, some are my own thoughts. Not all of these will be appropriate, safe, or doable for everybody, but I’m offering as wide a diversity of tactics as I can pull together because it is a diversity of tactics that makes for effective resistance.
I’ve been laid up with the flu for almost two weeks now, so I probably won’t be marching tomorrow, and I’m Canadian so there are a lot of things I can’t do to effect change in the US. But one of the things I can do is write. And I wanted to do something today. As Joan Baez says, “Action is the antidote to despair.”
Get Involved in Regional Politics: Some of the most important work that can be done is electing progressives at all levels of government to, as much as possible, offset what he and his racist, misogynistic, climate-change-denying cronies will do.
Municipal politics have immense influence over our everyday lives. School boards decide on curriculum and inclusion policies for LGBTQ students. City politics determine–in part–how and to what extent laws are enforced and whether things like safe injection sites, homeless shelters, and other services for the most vulnerable can be built. Cities also have the power to do things like institute living wage policies and ban plastic bags.
State politics determine if abortion is legal and accessible and myriad other things.
This is something the Republicans have been really good at–getting conservatives in at every level, especially doing the things that we dismiss as small and inconsequential, missing the huge reverberations we feel in our lives thanks to things like which textbooks are used and how they talk about slavery and climate change. (British Columbians, reminder: There’s a provincial election coming up. Let’s get to work!)
There is plenty to despair, but there is also much work to be done.
Read, Read, Read, Then Read Some More: Read Milena Popova’s “Welcome To Fascism” Reading List. Read Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival.” Read Pookleblinky’s Twitter thread on how fascism is an exponential process. Read “50 Books for the Next Four Years.” Read “…But I’m NOT Racist: Tools for Well-Meaning Whites.”(Kindle edition is free on Amazon today.)
“Remember why you’re panicking. Write a note to yourself about what you would never do. And when you come to the line, don’t cross it.”–Exiled Russian journalist Masha Gessen on resistance
The one thing authoritarians want you to do is to accept that their conduct is normal, even when it is not. They do not want you to yearn for a freer, less oppressive and less corrupt time, and they do not want you to think it odd when, say, a government agency is purged or a bunch of protesters are arrested and vanish into the prisons without ever seeing trial. They want you to think it is normal when the President is openly selling your interests out to a foreign power, or when he is using the levers of government to materially enrich and empower his family. The presumption of normality during abnormal times is one of the most powerful weapons the authoritarian has.–Joshua Foust
Build Up Your Toolkit: Learn strategies for bystander intervention. Learn how to set good boundaries. Learn how to make your voice heard in Congress. Learn How to Make Your Voice Heard in Politics Between Elections. Learn Strategies for Talking to Fellow White People (and Other Privileged Folks). Learn how to recognize when someone is obfuscating, shifting the blame, gas-lighting, or otherwise trying to derail conversations about justice. Build your ability to be wrong, to be uncomfortable, to be called out, to avoid the impulse to constantly recenter yourself. Learn how to be your own light.
Find people you can do a reality check with. People like the new president–and Republicans (and conservatives) in general–use gaslighting liberally. They’ll enact racist policies then hew and cry and call you the racist for “bringing race into it.” They will say they care about lowering abortion rates and then enact abstinence only policies that directly raise the abortion rate. They’ll make racist claims about a whole nation of people and then deny they did it. The goal here is to a) destabilize their opponents, b) make everyone unable to distinguish fact from fiction, and c) elude accountability. Figure out who you can reality-check with who will confirm that it is not you being “too sensitive” or you “misremembering” but you responding rationally to an untenable situation.
Don’t let them divide us. They’re going to try. They’re already succeeding. It’s going to be tempting to blame those that ask you to stretch yourself, to de-center yourself, to be better. It’s going to be tempting to say we have to start somewhere–and have that start just happen to end where your oppression ends. It’s going to be tempting to blame people who remind you of your privilege, of your benefit, of your collusion with systems of power. It’s going to be tempting to dismiss calls for justice that don’t benefit us as distractions. They’re not. If we are not fighting for the most vulnerable, if we are not using our privilege, wherever it lays, for those without, we might as well pack it up and go home. If we, instead, rally around the most vulnerable, if we declare that safety does not exist for me until it exists for all, that justice without intersectionality is not justice, if we commit to acting in solidarity even when it pains us, makes us uncomfortable, asks us to give of ourselves, then we can create an unstoppable movement.
There are roles for all of us in this. Write like a motherfucker if you’re a writer. Write even if you’re not–write to congress and senate and governors and premiers and school boards. March if you can. Organize, organize, organize. Remember that marching is a tactic, not a strategy. Engage in non-violent resistance. Offer childcare so others can march/vote/organize. Let yourself be the one arrested if you have citizenship and white privilege and are able-bodied enough to survive overnight in jail. Educate your friends and family. Give money, give money, give money if you can. Pick up the emotional labour from those who are expected to do so much. Check in with your femme friends and your friends of colour and your queer, trans, and non-binary friends.
And remember that there is hope in resistance.