He might win, you know. It might very well happen. For the first time in 16 years, and only the second time in my own whole voting career, this U.S. presidential election’s outcome does not feel like a foregone conclusion. While I encourage my fellow Americans to join me in voting for Hillary Clinton and allied downticket candidates, I must also accept the unwelcome reality that this cause has a good chance of failing to stop the swelling national desire to choose rule by an overt autocrat.
Should this happen, I’ll let myself feel very sad, disappointed, and probably more than a little scared — but I will do my best to not give into despair. For lack of any other options, I will swallow my fear and focus on the things that I can do, actively do, to refuse either cowed obedience or cynical passivity when I find myself a citizen of a nation whose chief executive swept to power on promises of hate and harm.
The specifics of these actions will have to change according to the shifting reality past that dread veil, which I won’t try to predict here. But I can, at least, try to name three general strategies, which I try to present generally enough to apply to more life-situations than mine alone.
Draw strength from friends and family. Hopelessness takes root in a vacuum. I plan to stay close to people I love and respect, both in-person and online. I can remind myself through them that the world is larger, so much larger than even the largest frightened mobs — and, more to the point, larger than me alone, because I am not alone.
Focus energy on local community. I mean “local” in both the physical and the virtual senses.
Learn who the leaders of your city, county, and state are. Consider attending municipal council meetings. Stop staring at Washington, and instead get familiar with the senators and representatives who mean to do that for you. As time and energy allow, increase your voice in their own offices, even just a little.
In the larger world, and in your internet-based communities, continue doing good in the ways you know how. This is the Keep Calm and Carry On part. I recently co-founded a charitable arts-technology nonprofit, allowing me to use my own skills to support others’ ability to make beautiful things in a sometimes ugly world. I fully intend to continue pouring myself into this effort, no matter what happens outside.
Resist. I have the least to say about this, right now. The form of resistance will vary enormously depending upon one’s identity, opportunity, and resources, as well as the shape of the thing that needs resisting against. I have no ability to foresee the specifics of this, especially not with such a destructively mercurial force poised to take charge.
I can see myself continuing to use my knowledge and my voice (assisted, without apology, by my privilege) to simply help keep the pressure on, even when it seems futile. History is larger than today, and terrible events don’t end history. Not everything is a crisis that must be resolved right now — that is the false message of the adversary. Some things require patience and fortitude to come about. If the best I can do is just help to keep pushing, that’s what I’ll do.