Dump the Trump Slump

I originally posted this on my Facebook page, in response to seeing despair from a lot of friends.  Maybe it can do some good here as well.

You’re exhausted by the news. You’re by turns baffled, angry, and weepy about the things that are happening. You feel helpless as you watch your country lurch down a path you never dreamed it would consider, and you grow despondent as you realize that we are only 10 days into the new administration.

In short, you’re in a “Trump Slump,” to borrow the brilliant turn of phrase coined by a friend. It’s no fun, but take heart: you are not alone. Here are some ideas on how to break out of it.

First – and this is important: accept that you can’t solve this problem alone. None of us can. You should feel no shame at all for feeling like you aren’t able to make things better for people who are being harmed, because the reality is that except for a very few people who already have power, it’s just not possible in most cases. The key is that there is tremendous power in many people doing small things. So the right question isn’t, “why can’t I fix this?” The right question is: “am I doing more than I used to?” If you are someone who used to just show up on election day, do a little more now: give your Senators and Representative a call. If you used to do that, then also show up at some protests. If you’re already an activist, spend extra time talking to your non-activist friends and helping them think through how they can be more effective. If everybody does more than they used to, big things can and will happen.

Second: pick your battles. A lot of outrageous things are happening very quickly, and it can easily become overwhelming. There are places where we can reasonably expect to have influence, mainly by calling our elected officials, and there are places where we can’t. For example, I would describe the appointment of Steve Bannon to be a principal on the National Security Council as both outrageous and something that we probably cannot expect to change. The White House has a lot of leeway in setting up those structures; Congress presumably could pass a law changing it, but the president of course would veto it, and we’d never muster a 2/3 majority to override. Instead, choose places where your voice can make a difference. I called my Senators today telling them to vote “no” on every single nominee, and to do whatever they can to slow down Senate business. I did that because (a) I think it’s the right course of action, and (b) neither of them has yet committed publicly to it, so they are probably still deciding what to do. That’s exactly when they need to hear from constituents. If you have Republican Senators, your voice is perhaps even more important, because they need to know that their constituents don’t support what is happening.

Third: do your research. This is a corollary to the second point. If we all start emailing and calling based on every half-baked thing that bounces around Facebook, we’ll exhaust ourselves without getting anything done. Look into sources – in particular, be suspicious of anything whose source you can’t identify. Just because a post says “Senator Warren said…” doesn’t mean it’s true. These things are usually pretty easy to verify, either by going directly to the claimed source or by a few Google searches. Instead of doing a lot of things, do a few carefully-chosen things that have impact.

Fourth: reach out. You don’t have to do this alone – in fact, you can’t. Talk to friends and family. Find out what they’re doing, and offer your well-researched suggestions to them in return. Join a group dedicated to taking action, or start one yourself. This guide – which you should absolutely read cover to cover – has great ideas on how a few people getting together can be very effective.

Fifth: be mindful that all the “shock events” (to use the phrase from this now-famous post) are part of a longer-term strategy that depends, in part, on panic, confusion, and chaos. They are counting on your being discombobulated by the pace of unexpected events, and they are counting on your getting exhausted and losing energy. (“Sure, they’re protesting and calling their Senators now, but give it six months and it’ll die down.”) Pace yourself, and keep your eye on the long game as well as the immediate crisis. Think ahead; put yourself in their shoes. If you were them, how would you hope this would play out, and what would your next step be? And give yourself time off when you need it – you have other stuff in your life that needs and deserves attention.

We’re all in a Trump Slump right now. Don’t lose hope, and don’t let it deter you from taking action. If millions of people do a little more than they used to, in a thoughtful and well-directed way, big change can happen. We’ve seen it before in this country, and we will see it again. Coraggio.


6 Comments . Leave a comment below.

    ” You can’t make any progress if you stop along the way to engage with every barking dog.” WINSTON CHURCHILL

    Fred Rich LaRiccia

  2. self-care

    They are counting on your being discombobulated by the pace of unexpected events, and they are counting on your getting exhausted and losing energy. (“Sure, they’re protesting and calling their Senators now, but give it six months and it’ll die down.”) Pace yourself, and keep your eye on the long game as well as the immediate crisis.

    Along these lines, do your best to take care of yourself. A bunch of sick zombies are less effective than healthy people with clear minds. Get enough sleep. Don’t give in to the temptation to overuse alcohol or other substances (especially if you are sober due to addiction). Eat normally. Regularly spend some time totally ignoring the news and doing something you love. Spend time with loved ones. Hugs – lots of hugs.

  3. "Shock event" a euphemism for a terrorist act

    We have a terrorist in the White House, now appointed to a permanent position on the NSC. What the “now-famous post” calls a “shock event” I think is more accurately described as a terrorist act.

    This is political terror. This is an act intentionally designed to cause chaos, uproar, and most of all fear. It appears to me that Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon are orchestrating a coup. They are demonstrating sheer contempt for the justice department.

    This administration is attacking the foundations of America as we know it.

    Not since the “Saturday night massacre” of the Nixon administration has America faced this kind of explicit constitutional challenge. America rose to the challenge in 1973 — the Saturday Night Massacre turned the tide towards impeachment. The question today is whether our Senators and Representatives — especially those from the GOP — will show similar courage and integrity.

    Our challenge, now, is to restore legality, due process, and sanity to the White House. The longer we wait, the harder this will be.

    • I don't think it's there yet

      But maybe by this afternoon.

      If you read Yates’ letter explaining her reasons for refusing to enforce the EO, it is pretty weak sauce. It doesn’t even conclude that it is illegal, which it might have done. It mainly says that the EO isn’t “wise or just,” which is weak because the AG isn’t supposed to make policy choices. Fired for refusal to defend illegal EO? Constitutional crisis. Fired for refusal to defend EO with which she disagrees? Not a constitutional crisis, yet.

      So, right decision, wrong reason.

      That said, it seems to have been politically effective in that it seems to have given Schumer et al. a badly needed backbone transplant on the Sessions nomination. Who knows if the transplant will take, though?

      I feel like former Sen. Reid is going to come back to broker a compromise in which the Dems agree to vote for all Trump’s nominees in return for Trump’s promise to be nice for 30 seconds.

  4. Also, constantly remind yourself...

    …(not to the exclusion of the aforementioned activism of course) that Trump’s election was a fluke. Don’t think that the new political reality is this new bloc of voters we have to cater to. For starters, there is of course the matter of the 2.8 million vote differential for Hillary, but also Comey’s ill-timed statements which polls could not and did not pick up. States like PA, MI, and WI were going for HRC according to 538.com and electoral-vote.com as late as the day immediately before Election Day. This is not a new political realignment so much as the conspiracy of a constitutional quirk and a loose-lipped FBI director.

  5. Shock Events and Trump Slump, this is a good post to read

    I don't like to talk about politics on Facebook– political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends– but…

    Posted by Heather Richardson on Sunday, January 29, 2017

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Sat 29 Apr 11:25 AM