It’s been a tough week, but it is time to get back in the saddle.
Some principles as we go forward
1 of 3. Self-care: Plan time with family; plan a vacation; start up that hobby you’ve been putting off.
We’re looking forward to the holidays with family. I’ve already decorated a Christmas tree, and bought a quart of egg nog, which I usually stave off till after Thanksgiving. We got airline tickets to Columbia and the British Virgin Islands. I’m doing a Roman study: reading a biography of Caesar, Cicero’s In Defense of the Republic, and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall… I’m blogging about each episode of Star Trek The Original Series. This will keep me preoccupied well beyond Inauguration Day.
2 of 3. Plan your information pathways: buy a newspaper subscription
Considering the high stakes of the next few years, I’m feeling the need to keep even more informed than usual–and from diverse sources. In addition to my subscriptions to The New York Times and The Atlantic, I’m adding the following: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and National Review. I’ll be seeking out prominent black and Hispanic/Latino bloggers/writers as well. Any suggestions? It will do us all good to read serious reporting on the economy. And since conservatives are in charge of the government, and there is an open question as to how conservative their new leader actually is, it will be important to keep tabs on how the conservative intelligentsia and policy wonks respond to Trump’s presidency.
As for social media, it’s a question of how much you want to engage, and to what end. I don’t know… Don’t go down any rabbit holes that will waste your time or take your eye off the ball.
3 of 4. Keep an open mind–Talk to a Trump voter.
National elections in a country as big and diverse as ours are mysterious things. It’s almost as if a collective spirit sweeps across the land every four years. There can never be a simple, ironclad explanation for why the country picks one person over another. There’s a matrix of reasons all valid. If you really believe in democracy and the genius of our Constitutional pluralism, then you have to accept that the collective will of the voters always contains wisdom, that there are important lessons about the country that their decision is charging us to learn. If you believe that election outcomes contain wisdom only when your side wins, that’s your prerogative. But it’s better to hear the other side out, just as you’d hope they’d hear you out. This seesaw from one ideological view to the other is going to continue for the rest of our lives–as it was designed–so we better get used to it.
Talk to a Trump voter. They’re everywhere! Even in New York and New Jersey. Trump won 85% of the country’s counties! Don’t debate, don’t interrogate, but interview them. Hear them out. They are not raving, ignorant, racist Troglodytes. I bet whomever you would find would be a normal person that does not harbor extreme views. They might just put you a little more at ease.
4 of 4. Keep your powder dry.
There will be–already is–a firehose of information to react to, to protest, to celebrate. Some things might make you angry or happy, and the compulsion to lash out or taunt will be strong. Hold your fire. We will not know what anything really means, or have a clear idea of what is about to happen until after Inauguration.
If you oppose Trump, protesting and raving now, when there is no specific issue to galvanize the country around, will look too much like sour grapes to those in the middle. We need to be careful about being painted as costal, liberal elites out of touch with the rest of the country, because we will be seen as unreasonable when we have real cause to fight next year. There is still the possibility that Trump will not be as bad as we fear. Hold.
If you support Trump, he and the media narrative is going to press you into service to respond to every attack and perceived slight. Whenever a person of color gets mouthy with the administration or newspapers report on Trump’s business conflicts of interest, be wary of lending your name to Trump’s defense. You don’t know how this is going to turn out either. Hold, hold.
Let’s not fight now over nonsense and innuendo, but instead wait until there is an actual bill or executive order and then try to persuade everybody (Democrat and Republican) to get behind it or fight against it.