Things to Do in Light of the Recent Election

Okay, I was poleaxed by the election. I’ve spent the last six days reading and thinking. Okay, not really. I’ve spent much of the last six days streaming 30 Rock on a constant loop so I wouldn’t have to think. But, I did a lot of reading, too. Cross my heart. This post will outline some things I’ve learned and some things I’m going to try to do. This isn’t an invitation to debate, because I don’t want to be yelled at on Facebook. If you want to have a conversation with me about anything I write here, super. I’m pretty easy to find. But if you yell at me on Facebook, I’ll just delete the comment. In return, I promise not to yell at you on Facebook either. Deal? I’ve seen this viral-video of some British guy yelling while standing in front of an infinity screen. He waves his arms a lot and has cool, hip, messy hair. He tries to look like he’s not looking at himself. He blames people like me for losing the election because of the liberal bubble. Maybe some of what he says is true—I do live in a liberal town, teach at a University (although certainly not a traditionally liberal school), and have a ton of liberal friends. But I read. A lot. I also teach critical writing and I get news from a number of sources (almost exclusively text, I watch very little cable or network news.). I’m on the side of honest debate, factual reporting, facts in general, truth, critical thought, non-reductive reasoning, social justice, climate change urgency, anti-racism, anti-misogyny—well, you get the picture. It’s not difficult to see where I stand. That’s my bubble. So be it. I don’t know if that means I helped elect Donald Trump. But that’s what the yelling-man with the cool, messy hair tells me I’ve done. I find his rant condescending. I find his reasoning reductive and abstract. Plus, he talks about being “lynched” like he’s not aware of the racial connotations, or, worse, he’s using the word “lynched” so he’ll seem edgy or cool. So, screw that guy. He pleads for people to “talk to him” but he’s too loud and obnoxious. What is needed is action. I’m late to the party. I’ve stood on the sidelines for too long. Here are some thoughts about how I’m going to get active as we run up to the inauguration of the new president.

  • I’m going to write to my congresswomen and representatives to urge them to oppose Steve Bannon taking any job in the White House. A cursory glance at his publishing record should scare any average voter, Republican or Democrat. His extremist views are abhorrent. He shouldn’t be allowed a janitorial position on the staff, let alone Chief Strategist. We need to keep this man away from our White House.
  • I’m going to subscribe to at least two newspapers, maybe three. I’m thinking Boston Globe, Washington Post, and New York Times. But if there is a notable paper that you’d suggest, I’d consider that too. It’s important to support our press in this new era of hostility toward good old-fashioned journalism.
  • I’m going to join the NH-ACLU and set up a recurring donation to the National ACLU. At a time when our civil liberties are being threatened, I want to be a part of an organization that will fight for all of our rights.
  • I am going to challenge every racist, misogynistic, or anti-LGTBQ action or word I see in the world (but not on social media, because no mind is changed by internet comment sections). I hope that I am strong enough to do this. With the immediate rise of hate-speech and hate-crime in the wake of the election, I know that I must stand up for any group that may be marginalized or feel threatened. If I can use my privilege as a shield in some way to help a victim of even a micro-aggression, I will.
  • And yup, I’m going to wear a safety pin. Put a safety pin on my office door. Put a safety pin on the front door of my home. In my car. On each jacket. On my teaching notebooks. Maybe even hang one from my glasses. It’s just a symbol, but so is the American Flag.
  • I’m going to try to extend love in all directions. That sounds hippyish and abstract, and I haven’t figured out what it means for every situation, but I know that it’s my only path. That doesn’t mean I won’t get angry. And that doesn’t mean I think a racist, misogynistic, bully for a president is “normal” in any way. But I can’t go forward from a place of hate. It has to be love. I have friends I know voted for Trump. You know who you are. I love you too. I can’t change anything but me.
  • I will not consider Trump’s administration “normal.” Period.
  • I’m going to continue to teach critical thinking and reading skills as best I can in the First Year Writing Course I teach almost every semester. Who knows if any of that stuff sticks (exhausted looking 8am students, you’d know better than me). But if I continue to demand critical thinking, reading, and writing, that is positive forward motion.
  • I’m going to continue to teach the creative process and creative writing in the Introductory and Intermediate and Advanced Fiction writing courses I teach. What is more hopeful than creating something? Every time a student writes about a person not themselves, they learn about the world through a different set of eyes. Maybe a stated goal of those classes should be “developing the empathetic palette.” I will ask them to read stories that show the world from a wide range of vantage points, in particular those of the populations of folks threatened by or fearful of a Trump presidency.
  • I will read more myself. I already choose my books from a broad spectrum, but for the upcoming year, I will read at least one extra book per month that deals with some issue or population that is in danger under a Trump Presidency.
  • I will write more about these subjects and post more on my website. For several years, my website has lacked focus. I post relatively infrequently. But now, Clarkknowles.com will have a purpose. It won’t be all posts like this. But each week, I will write and post on a subject that pertains to my country and this new president and/or his policies and how they effect the people.
  • I will join an organization on the University of New Hampshire’s campus that promotes social justice. I don’t know which one, yet. I have to do a little research.
  • I will look into how I can best help insure that the mid-term elections are more aligned to the core values to which our founding documents aspire. Conversely, I will speak out against the notion that our white-male-property-and-slave-owning founding fathers are people we should fetishize as we imagine a better tomorrow. The documents, yes, the men, no.
  • So, as we move toward the inauguration, I will begin these things. It’s the only way I can see to go forward—action, even on this small scale, is the only path away from total despair. Through action, I can envision renaissance instead of apocalypse. I hope that you’ll join me in some form of action as we work to protect those who most need our protection.

4 thoughts on “Things to Do in Light of the Recent Election

  1. Congratulations on finding your focus. I applaud you for laying out a plan of action to allow your efforts to support the initiatives and agendas to work toward a more understanding, more accepting society. I think the three papers you suggested subscriptions are full of varying views and will serve your purpose well, might I also suggest a west coast paper, maybe LA Times or Denver Post. I think you will read a different perspective and other views from that on the East Coast. I think your self dedication to individual action will be for the greater good, and will present discussion points that others will take and ponder, hopefully striving to do their part to take action in working to Keeping this country moving in a positive direction. Thank you for your words.

  2. Thanks Steven—I was thinking about the LA Times. I think they were the only paper on record as foreseeing a Trump win, so they are obviously seeing things that East coasters didn’t.

  3. So many good points here and I love that it’s on your blog again so I can find it more easily than I could on Facebook. I think your focus here is great. I liked your comment about supporting real journalism and have subscribed to The Washington Post for a year. I’m still considering what other news sources to support, but it’s a start. Thank you.

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