Well, it happened. And for many of us, it was totally blindsiding.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the implications of our election. Donald Trump’s election notwithstanding, the approach our country took to “Shaking up Washington” was to re-elect 96 percent of existing Congressional Representatives to another term in office.
This is the first time in my entire life that I have very little confidence in our government to serve all peoples. It’s woken me up from my own lack of action, and it reminds me of some of the conversations I had during my time in South Africa: for them, civil service was the heartbeat of action and progress in response to a government that planted bitter roots of division for decades. I now understand what they meant, and I understand how far we need to go.
So, here’s what I’m planning to do.
1. Get more involved in local politics. I give a lot of credit to my friend, Mark Noviski, for being an active and engaged voice in local races. Here in California, we elected a new Senator, passed a cigarette tax, legalized marijuana, and retained the death penalty. These choices all have substantial implications on our well-being, and they cannot be ignored.
How I plan to be involved is another story. In full disclosure, I’m beginning the early stages of exploring a run for public office in either 2018 or 2020. I don’t know where my skills and passion best align yet, but they align somewhere. Stay tuned. :)
2. Give. This election presents some substantial concerns when it comes to every citizen being afforded their Constitutionally-protected rights. And fortunately, the millions of Americans who refuse to tolerate these rights being infringed are galvanized by every element of hate that runs past us on social media.
Even more fortunately is that there are a slew of organizations, with years of experience and thousands of volunteers, at the ready to actionably address your concerns. I am choosing to now give to two specific organizations:
3. Stay chatty. I know that social media is often a vacuum, and words echo off similarly-painted walls so easily, but it also can be a motivator. Mark (mentioned above) inspired me with frequent postings on voter activity, and many friends participated in phone banks, get-out-the-vote movements, and activism. They broadcast these efforts openly and frequently, and in many ways, diminished any excuses I may have had to not become more engaged in the process.
Are there things you’re actively doing to stay engaged and involved? Share them with your friends and family - and most importantly, remember that others are there alongside you.