Wednesday, November 30, 2016

post-election special

As commenting on the recent election and forecasting its effect for the next four years seems to be obligatory these days, here are a few thoughts:

Whether you voted for him or not, his administration is going to do something you don't like -- lots and lots of somethings as far as progressives are concerned, but even for most conservatives, there will undoubtedly be things that go too far or cause unexpected difficulties in your everyday life.

The coming administration is shaping up to have a level of cronyism far beyond the norm. It's going to be even harder than usual for the grassroots to influence change at the national level. The bright spot is all those ballot initiatives. The votes on these didn't necessarily follow the "conservative" or "liberal" inclinations of the state. People pay closer attention to, and vote on more carefully and with more independent thought, issues that clearly and directly affect their everyday life, and which they feel they can directly affect.

So get involved locally. Run for office if you can stomach it. Know who your local politicians are, know the local issues, follow the news, and when things veer off in unhealthy directions put pressure on the powers that be -- from the state legislature down to community members with no elected office but with wealth or other local influence.

Form a social safety net and be a useful part of that net. Again, get to know the issues -- the practical, day-to-day issues. Learn useful skills: gardening, carpentry, computer technology, mechanical repair, first aid, the intricacies of filling out forms and negotiating the system for financial aid for college and for daily survival, for immigration, for employment. Above all, learn the second language most common in your area, and/or learn to sign. Take meals to the hungry, fix up a house, mentor a child, mentor an adult, clean a vacant lot, volunteer at a firehouse or a hospital or the local social services, at a public library or a public park. Use your skills to teach others and to help, physically and materially, wherever you can.

We're all gonna need all the help we can get.