Like you, I couldn’t sleep much Tuesday night. My brain refused to shut down. It churned relentlessly, chewing on dark possibilities of what a President Donald J. Trump will mean. A trade war with China that craters the U.S. economy? An impulsive military strike in Syria? An economic crisis sparked by the Mexican wall? A secret Nixonian “enemies list” prosecuted by Attorney General Giuliani?
Much to worry about, yes. Hard not to be depressed and demoralized. But hold off on that Google search for the Canadian citizenship process. And don’t throw your soy caramel latte at me in disgust, but I’d like to offer a few very modest thoughts on how we might begin to beat the post-election blues:
(1) Congratulate a Trump supporter.
Yes, you heard me. It’s all over and done now, so there’s no sense wasting any more breath debating the other side on Facebook. Offer them congratulations and move on with your day.
(2) Accept defeat.
It’s one thing to avoid arguing with the other side. It’s another step altogether to make yourself accept the fact that defeat – stinging, unexpected, humiliating defeat! – actually happened to your side. Accept that there are rational reasons why Hillary Clinton lost. It’s not simply that voters on the other side have lost their ever-loving minds (no matter how strongly you believe that to be the case). The economic pain of Trump’s rural white blue-collar base is very real, for instance, and Washington’s response has been tepid, if not nonexistent.
(3) Remember the good stuff.
National politics is like the background music of our everyday lives. It’s always on, but sometimes we pay attention, sometimes we don’t. It’s not the main thing we have going on, except perhaps on Election Day. Focus on the things that bring you joy and give you strength, be it your family, your faith, your dog, your favorite running trail or your best friend.
(4) Find your cause.
Politics at its core is about making connections, about trying to nudge your community or country in a better direction. You don’t need a voting booth to make that happen. If you’ve got a passion, chances are there’s a charity that will help you channel it for the greater good. Heck, the smart ones are already pounding on your inbox door right now. The Friends of the Earth hit me with this email message even as I was typing up this piece: “Join the Resistance: Stop Donald Trump’s Attacks on the Environment. Donate now!” You get the picture.
Remember, it wasn’t going to be the end of the world no matter who won. Your mortgage and the dirty laundry didn’t go away because you’re a Trump supporter, and they didn’t get any more onerous because you opposed Trump. Our personal duties and obligations present themselves anew every day, regardless of what’s happening in Washington.
Plus, bad cases of the no-good blues don’t last forever, no matter how dark and all-encompassing it might seem at the moment. It gets better. I was encouraged, for instance, by Trump’s calm, almost modest acceptance speech. So were the jittery world financial markets, which started recovering from their steep drops as signs of a Trump victory emerged Tuesday night.
No matter how big a mistake we progressives think the rest of the electorate made Tuesday, Trump is now everyone’s president-elect. Let’s pray he surrounds himself with wise political counsel and corrals his notoriously impulsive tendencies.
We didn’t all want him to succeed on election night. But every single one of us needs for him to succeed now.
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