Trump’s election is still too new for some of us to talk about without fear and a few other rattling emotions, and this is not the time to give up. I’ve lived eight decades, through the Great Depression, World War II, the McCarthy era, the Vietnam war, atrocities of the civil rights movement, struggles for women’s rights, and an inexperienced president who was hoodwinked by misinformation and power-hungry advisors. We survived all that, and with vigilance and effort we can by golly survive Donald Trump.
He could undo some steps we’ve made in trying to develop a more democratic society. He could embarrass us before the entire world or adopt policies leading to economic disaster. He could push the button and get us all blown up. He could, but maybe he won’t.
The race was an adventure of cheering followers. He could (and did) say anything that crossed his mind without serious consequence. Now, against all odds, he is the President-elect, and like the dog that caught a car, he has to decide what to do with it. Once the seriousness of his new job dawns on him, he could undergo a dramatic change. It may take awhile, and it’s a long shot, given his personality structure, but it could happen. People have been known to sober up when faced with sudden responsibility.
Then again, he might continue his Trump-Knows-Everything attitude, and if he does, that’s where we come in. The people who put this country together slugged it out long and bitterly before coming up with constitutional solutions for avoiding disaster in case a popular election put an ego-maniac at the helm. Much of a President’s power is dependent on Congress, and Congressional Representatives are elected every two years, making them extremely sensitive to public opinion. Letters, emails, and phone calls get their attention, regardless of form letters that come in return. Believe it. Act on it.
And there’s America’s free press. Not thinly disguised opinions shamelessly pushing agendas as facts, but the real thing. For more than 200 years it has been the nation’s guardian, and it may be limping today, but it’s not dead yet. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for us all to ditch the media drivel that passes for news, stay carefully informed (emphasis on carefully) and act with intelligent discernment.
Upheaval isn’t happening only here; it’s happening all over the world. Maybe no one alive today will live to see what this transition in civilization will eventually bring, but we all have a small hand in what it will be. Hate, fear and dissension are not luxuries we can afford right now, and hand-wringing won’t help. We have to pull up our socks and muster a little consciousness. We’ve had eight years of obstruction for the sake of obstruction, and it will do no good to return tit for tat. No more shouting “You lie!” to our President from the House floor, a disgrace to us all; no more action (or non-action) for revenge; no more hate or distrust of fellow citizens who disagree with us, or look different, or have different personal practices; no more imagining that this still-new experiment in democracy will survive no matter what we do.
As citizens, we don’t have to know what to do about the perils of our world, thank goodness; we only have to know how to act with faith, hope, courage, respect and love. For now, that’s enough, and it’s vital.