Now that the election is over and it’s all but guaranteed that Donald Trump is going to become the next president, tens of millions of Americans are concerned about protecting the civil rights women and minorities have fought for over the past 60 years. With calls mounting to deport millions of people who have known no home other than America — and with the president-elect already stuffing his administration with white supremacists, anti-Semites, and men hellbent on reducing (or even eliminating) women’s reproductive rights — the time has come to ask: How can I resist Donald Trump’s presidency?
As it turns out, there are actually several things you can do to resist a Trump presidency. And doing them will require some effort and some sacrifice — even more than signing online petitions and sharing memes. Here are a few things you can do to resist a Trump presidency.
What Probably Won’t Help
Sharing Memes And Funnies: Sharing anti-Trump/Pence political cartoons, memes, Facebook posts, tweets, and other things on social media may make you feel better for the moment. It may even get you a few “likes” and “shares” from your like-minded friends. But that’s all it’s going to get you. You can probably count on zero hands the number of your friends who were swayed to change their political beliefs because of clever social media posts.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share them. Please, keep it up! We could all use validation in these dark days, and laughter is the best medicine.
Signing and Sharing Online Petitions: Do you know how much legal weight those petitions on Change.org and Whitehouse.gov and other petition sites carry? Exactly none. And while the Change.org petition to ask the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton may have amassed an impressive 4.5 million signatures, that 4.5 million number is literally nothing more than pixels on a screen. From a practical and legal standpoint, it makes no difference if that number is 45 or 450 million.
But again, as with sharing memes and other media, while the practical effect may be minimal, it’s good to have validation. And it’s possible, however unlikely, that some electors may be swayed by that petition and change their vote. But don’t count on it.
What Might Help
Protests: While Trump supporters like to laugh at the anti-Trump protests and point out how protests never work, there are two things to keep in mind. One is that whether or not your protest changes anything, it does have the benefit of making your voice heard. It may be ignored, but you aren’t going down silently.
For another thing, sometimes protests do actually work. King’s March on Washington. Selma, the Boston Tea Party, the Storming of the Bastille — all of those protests actually resulted in the protesters’ goals being achieved. Granted, those protests were only a small part of a larger series of events that worked to achieve those goals; King’s March on Washington, for example, was part of a larger civil rights movement that would have gone nowhere if not for the fact that King had support in the House and Senate.
But still, there’s a reason we teach schoolchildren King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: because the March on Washington was a historical protest that helped get the job done.
What Will Help
Open Up Your Checkbook: Donations to organizations that are poised to help people who will likely be marginalized by a Trump administration are on the increase, says Rolling Stone. Are you concerned that LGBTQ rights are going to be rolled back under a Trump/Pence administration? Donate to GLAAD. Concerned about women’s reproductive rights? Donate to Planned Parenthood. Concerned about your civil rights being eroded? Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Offer Up Yourself As A Safe Space: If you are concerned about violence against Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, minorities, offer to be a “safe space” for them. Kayla Santosuosso, the deputy director of the Arab Association of New York, started an effort to recruit “commute buddies” who would ride along with people who fear violence on the way to work. Hoping she might get about 50 people to sign up, she’s actually gotten about 5,000.
You can do the same in your community. Make it known that you will commute to work with anyone who fears violence. Make it known that women, Muslims, and other minorities are welcome in your place of business. Make your church, school, and place of work a space where people can express their concerns and fears without fear of judgment or retaliation.
— #BearClan (@WeAreBearClan) November 18, 2016
Nullify: This is a tactic that, as the Washington Post reports, was put to use by abolitionists during the days leading up to the [first] Civil War. Whenever an escaped slave was due to be “renditioned” back into slavery, Northern abolitionists would surround the slave to prevent him or her from being sent back into slavery.
So how can that tactic work today? I’ll let Post writer Linda Hirschman explain it better than I could.
“What would the abolitionists do [today]? They would gather in huge numbers every time federal agents came for a Hispanic honors student. They would compel those agents to use force if they wanted to proceed. They would document every moment. And they would use the media — back then it was the penny press, the Twitter of its time — to spread the images everywhere. Every vulnerable dreamer should be carrying a cellphone with a number to text if the feds come.”
And also, keep this in mind: When you sit on a jury, you have the right, protected by the Constitution, to decide the case not based on just the facts of the case, but also on the very law itself. If you believe someone is technically guilty of a crime (say, obstructing justice when Trump’s private police force comes to register Muslims), but you think the law itself is immoral, you can vote “not guilty.” The process is called jury nullifcation, and it’s been used to protect people who, for example, harbored fugitive slaves, or who “illegally” helped register blacks to vote.
The next four (or, God help us, eight) years are going to be difficult, to say the least. But the absolute worst thing you can do is to take a Trump presidency lying down. Whatever you can do, large or small, to make the Trump regime as feckless and as painless as possible, do it! If that means escorting a rape victim into an abortion clinic so she can get it done safely, recording police brutality and sharing it on social media, or sending a sizable donation to the Freedom From Religion Foundation or the Southern Poverty Law Center, do it!
The time to resist the Trump presidency is now.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]