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Get Out of Your Election Depression, and Take Action

Barbara Dunlap
Contributor
Barbara Dunlap is a Truthdig copy editor and a contributor to Truthdig's Violence Against Women series. She's an award-winning journalist with years of writing and editing experience at publications such as…
Barbara Dunlap
 

Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

Like millions of voters who opposed Donald Trump, I was completely stunned the day after the election. Usually I can find something positive to do in a negative situation, but this time I was almost too depressed to try.

Of course, I thought about moving to Canada. But then I realized that running away, or staying and bemoaning our fate, wouldn’t improve anything. I saw only one thing worth doing: to work with others to strengthen this country against the challenges ahead.

It’s not enough to say that Trump’s presidency will imperil our rights or wreak havoc on the environment. All of us who opposed him have to step up to champion what we consider important. If we’ve been active in a social or political realm, we should redouble our efforts. If we haven’t been involved enough, this is the time to begin.

Here’s a post-election guide to getting started. It lists one organization as an example for each category. Choose an area of special concern to you and your family, or step out of your comfort zone and help others by supporting a new cause. For every American who joins in this process, we come a step closer to protecting what we value.

Civil Liberties

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) works in courts and legislatures and with community groups to defend Americans’ individual liberties. The organization’s agenda includes everything from achieving full gender equality and promoting religious tolerance to improving community-police relations.

The ACLU website makes it easy for concerned people to take immediate steps on a wide range of topics. On the site, just click on “Contact,” and then, on “Take Action at our Action Center.” You can do things such as emailing the Department of Justice in support of a mandate for all police departments to report data on police shootings and other incidents.

Along with weighing in on issues, you can become an ACLU member, make a financial donation and/or get involved with your local ACLU affiliate.

Human Rights

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports on issues from torture and terrorism to children’s rights and disability rights. Its representatives meet with governments, corporations and international and regional groups to promote worldwide justice and human rights.

On the “Take Action” page of its website, HRW informs you of many human rights topics and explains how to have your say. For instance, you can sign a petition urging tobacco companies to end child labor on tobacco farms. To get more active, apply for a volunteer internship with HRW, or, if you have experience in political, economic or social affairs, join an advisory committee to help shape human rights advocacy.

Reproductive Freedom

NARAL Pro-Choice America advocates for many kinds of choice by promoting greater access to abortion, birth control, sex education and prenatal care.

The organization is seeking volunteers who will support pro-choice policies and fight back against nationwide attacks on choice. Fill in your contact information on NARAL’s Volunteer page, and you’ll receive word about how you can contribute. If you live in an area that has a NARAL affiliate, you also can participate in local events.

The Take Action page of the NARAL website lets you act right away. For example, you can urge your congressional representative to support a bill that helps keep politicians from intruding on private decisions about health care and reproduction.

Environmental Protection

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) works on several fronts, including stabilizing the climate, protecting endangered species, restoring oceans, ensuring a safe and lasting food supply and protecting people’s health

To find out what you can do, click on “How You Can Help.” One proposed step is to write your congressional representatives, urging them to take action on reducing lead exposure in drinking water. The EDF suggests a basic email you can send and allows you to personalize it as you see fit.

You also can join the EDF, make donations and/or sign up to get updates and receive action alerts.

Community Building

Everyday Democracy offers tools and resources for strengthening this country from the ground up. It helps bring diverse people together through community organizing, small-group meetings and connecting action with dialogue.

The organization addresses issues ranging from early childhood development and education to poverty, racial equality and police-community relations. It provides discussion guides, how-to handbooks, coaching and other resources for residents to adapt to their community’s needs. If a group wants to organize a large-scale program, Everyday Democracy may be able to provide additional assistance.

If real change on the local level sounds like a pipe dream, look at communities that have already made a difference. You can read about a small town in South Dakota that helped reduce racial tensions between whites and Native Americans; action teams in New York City that are increasing the flow of healthy foods into poor neighborhoods; and a city in Georgia that helped residents and local officials find common ground for solving conflicts.

Your community could be next. Just contact Everyday Democracy to get started.

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