Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Helping the most vulnerable under year one of the Trump presidency

The new President and GOP-dominated Congress will move very quickly to dismantle key government programs millions of people rely on - including yourself, your family, your neighbors, etc. - and to create a very exclusionary, anti-intellectual climate in the USA, and there is no way, politically, to stop them for at least the next two years. They have the full support a militant right-wing voting majority in the USA for their actions. They have a mandate.

I'll leave discussions and recommendations for political organizing for future elections and leave fruitless suggestions and conversations about changing the hearts and minds of the rabid, angry, bigoted majority of American voters to others. I don't meet racists halfway. I don't meet people who abuse and demean women halfway. Instead, for now, I am focused on scrounging together some protections for people and the environment for at least the next two years. Because I care about my country and its people, and because looking out for each other is, truly, the American way.

In the coming weeks, those of us who care about our country and its diverse, multicultural population will need to look around at the most vulnerable people in our lives - family, work colleagues, neighbors - and assess what they are going to need urgently, as critical government programs are slashed, funding for critical services withdrawn, various initiatives eliminated, and the general climate becomes more openly hostile and dangerous for those in society that are not white, middle-class and Christian. Educate yourself about these safety net and civil liberty options so that you can access them, and so you can refer others to them.

Health care

If you have family or friends on Obamacare, urge them to make all preventative care and treatment appointments as soon as possible, and to get all of their prescriptions filled quickly. This health care coverage is going away and there will not be a replacement for most people on Obamacare, so everyone needs to use it while they have it. If you can, drive people that need transportation to appointments, offer to visit them in their homes after medical treatments that keep them somewhat immobilized, and keep them up-to-date about final dates of coverage as the GOP moves to eliminate their health insurance coverage. What options will be after Obamacare is eliminated and millions lose their health care coverage, I cannot say, as there has been no affordable option proposed to replace it. As the date gets closer, I'm hoping others will compile lists of safety net organizations and affordable emergency health care options. For now, let's try to get everyone who has Obamacare to use it fully, to get the health care they need immediately and to get all the preventative care they can now, while they have coverage, that could prevent health and financial disaster in the coming months/years.

Planned Parenthood will now be under siege like never before, and the militant right wing voting majority in the USA wants to see it gone and all women forced to carry every pregnancy to term, regardless of the circumstances of a pregnancy or the health of the woman. For many women, Planned Parenthood is their ONLY option for gynecological services, birth control, counseling regarding adoption, and, indeed, pregnancy abortion services. Find out where all of the Planned Parenthood clinics are in your state, so you know where the nearest one is to someone that you talk to that will need their services. Consider donating to the organization (you can donate locally rather than nationally, if that makes you more comfortable). And keep up-to-date regarding local efforts to change zoning or other regulations that will result in a clinic's closure - local outcry can keep local officials from buckling under the pressure of state legislators and Congress to close Planned Parenthood clinics.

Public schools / public education

Public schools, both K-12 and universities, are the heart of our democracy and our country's long-held, long-practiced principle of equal opportunity. In addition, healthy public k-12 schools prevent crime, because they keep kids busy and give them skills needed to handle a variety of situations, let alone become employed someday. Public schools have been severely defunded already - such defunding causes schools to fail, thereby allowing Republicans to point to school failings and assert that public education should be eliminated altogether. The new president and Congress will ramp up these defunding efforts even more, and quickly, far more quickly than you can mobilize politically to stop them. Remember: this assault on public schools is what the militant right wing voting majority in the USA wants - YOU are in the minority and, therefore, you cannot stop the cuts from coming at this point and for at least the next two years. What can you do? If you can, volunteer at at least one of your local public schools, and donate any funds you can in the next 12 months to help kids in your community have school supplies, educational materials, arts programs, outdoor programs, sports activities, etc. You can donate directly to the school’s foundation, or you can do so through Donors Choose.

In addition, there will be an even greater push to remove science from schools, to lie to children and tell them evolution is not a scientific theory but a mere belief, that there is as much "scientific" proof for Biblical timelines of the Earth and universe, that climate change isn't real or that, if it is, it won't adversely affect them, and that abstinence from sex is the only education they need about human sexuality and reproductive biology. Such lies about science hold our young people back in life and in the workplace, and will further hold our country back economically. You must be on the lookout for these anti-science efforts in schools. Find out how textbooks are chosen at your local public schools and ask to see them. Ask your children what they are learning in science class, and be ready to march into a school board meeting and speak up if you think science is under assault in your local school system.

Black Lives Matter

The new president's "law and order" rhetoric, and his overwhelming support by law enforcement officials, makes it sound like it's open-season on Black Americans, especially Black American Men. The GOP-dominated Congress will be only too happy to accommodate the new president's "law and order" dreams - remember, this is also the desire of the right wing voting majority in the USA, so they feel there is a mandate for this.

Enroll in your local police and sheriff department's next citizen academy, and encourage all of your Black colleagues and friends to do so as well. Attend every public police event with these colleagues and friends and make sure local police see your face and know your name - and so that you know theirs. Force them to deal with you in a very public, non-law enforcement capacity. Assert your right to meet them, to attend their events, to assemble and to fully participate in the community. Always be respectful and peaceful, always, but assert your rights to exist, to be seen, and to be respected yourself. White people: be allies for Black Americans.

Film anything in public that you see that might be a violation of someone's rights by the police, and pass on a copy of that film to the ACLU and to national press. Share it online as soon as possible, absolutely. If you feel your life would be in danger if you do this, however, don't do it.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) promotes the civil rights of people of color and works to eliminate race-based discrimination. Find your local chapter for ways to get involved. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund fights for racial justice through litigation, advocacy and education.


People who are easily identified by a casual observer as an immigrant or child of an immigrant, based on their skin color, clothes or accent, will be especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence in Trump's America - the loudest cheers at his rallies were his anti-immigrant comments.

Get to know your neighbors, and if you discover they are immigrants, or children of immigrants, let them know you are an ally. Look for immigrant support groups, like Adelante Mujeres in Washington County, Oregon, or The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), an advocacy and organizing group focusing on achieving human, civil, and labor rights for immigrants. Sign up for their newsletters, go to ther events, and if you can, donate your time or money to them.

Contact the International Rescue Committee to ask what groups in your area support refugees and then contact those organizations and ask how you can help.

Gay rights

The new President and the GOP-dominated Congress are dedicated to eliminating all of the legal gains by people that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), including marriage rights - it's what the majority of voters in the USA have voted for, one of many anti-human rights, anti-equality issues that drove them to the polls in such numbers. Many people who are LGBTQ are terrified regarding their marriage status, their parental status, and their individual futures because of this election. PFLAG unites people who are LGBTQ with families, friends, and allies, to provide support, education and advocacy. Get on a mailing list for your local chapter or the national office at the very least; even better, join your nearest chapter for a meeting.

Other human rights concerns

Donald Trump is on the record as planning to create a militarized deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants from the USA, to ban the entry of Muslims into the USA and aggressively surveil any Muslim already here, to punish women for accessing abortion once he makes it illegal with the help of his Supreme Court appointees, to reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture, and to change our nation’s libel laws and to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The GOP-dominated Congress will support him in these endeavors, and the majority of American voters will cheer him on - it's what they want, it's what the voted for. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will do its best to challenge these actions in court, and if the ACLU can hold these actions off for two years in the courts, and a miracle can change the makeup of Congress, Trump could be stopped from these violations of human rights and cherished American beliefs. Sign up for their email newsletter at the very least, and donate if you can.

The Southern Poverty Law Center fights hate and bigotry and seeks justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality. They effectively fight hates groups, including all those alt right groups and traditional bigoted groups that proudly endorsed Donald Trump for President. Get on their mailing list at least; consider a donation as well.


Be on the lookout for bullying of, or by, your children. The new President's behavior gives children and teens in particular a green light for insulting others because of their ethnicity or religion, their physical appearance or their physical disabilities, and for insulting women, even assaulting women. Have frank, regular conversations with your children about what bullying is, what sexual assault is, what you will do to ensure they are safe, and what you will do if they engage in harassment or insulting, demeaning behavior of any kind regarding another person. And practice what you preach: if a family member, a work colleague, a neighbor, a store clerk, a bed and breakfast owner, anyone in your presence, engages in Trump-like insulting, demeaning behavior regarding another person because of their ethnicity or religion, their physical appearance or their physical disabilities, or because she's a woman, say, "I will not tolerate listening to such demeaning language." And then you leave, or you tell them to leave. Don't try to negotiate, don't try to argue, don't yell - just end the conversation and remove them, or yourself, from the situation.


Per their victory in being found not-guilty of any crimes in association with their armed, terroristic takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, militant right wing white men are planning for other armed takeovers of government-owned public lands. Federal agencies are training their staff on how to handle armed invasions and stay safe, but many nonprofits and state agencies are unprepared for such assaults. If you work or volunteer at such, ask about such preparations, and encourage a meeting with staff from federal parks, monuments, reserves and other sites to find out their plans and see how you might use such to formulate your own in the case of armed invasion by these right wing groups, now further emboldened by the militant right wing voting majority in the USA. If you are at a park of any kind and you see people with guns, call the police immediately and leave the area.

You will need to watch local city and county planning meetings and review all minutes intensely, as this will be a prime time for local officials to propose developments that threaten the environment, including clean water, and threaten public lands and tribal lands. These local officials, in partnership with mining companies, ranchers, oil companies and others, are counting on you to stay away from public meetings and to not read public meeting minutes.


USA money for international work will be severely cut in the coming months. This will create further humanitarian crises among women and children in particular. Even more people are going to die as a result. The organization that I think is most worth supporting with your dollars, if you can, to help with the refugee crisis abroad, as well as disaster relief as it arises, is CARE International.

In addition, you need to stay up-to-date on what is happening internationally. Just like all people on Earth, Americans from all walks of life are affected by the global economy and, directly or indirectly, dependent upon it. What the President and Congress do can help open markets to US businesses - or close them entirely. Watching USA-based news channels is not enough to know what's going on; listen to BBC world news on the radio or via the Internet at least twice a week. This will help you to be able to anticipate what is going to affect your employment or international travel. It will also help you to be able to talk reasonably and respectfully with immigrants, including refugees, in the USA.

I have a lot to say about new cautions for traveling and working abroad, but I'll save that for another blog.

Other resources

Jezebel has also published a list of organizations that help address women's safety and health, immigrants' rights and needs, and critical environmental issues, as well as organizations that fight against discrimination and bigotry. Bookmark these lists for future reference, and be prepared to call any of them if you think something is happening that is harming someone, even if you don't think what is happening is illegal.

The press

Let local TV stations and newspapers, national TV and radio and newspapers and appropriate nonprofits know about incidents of discrimination, bigotry, violence, harm, censorship or misinformation that you think can be traced to the agenda of Trump supporters. Document these incidents - date, time, place, and players. Write about them, blog about them. Film them whenever possible. Remember that it can take the press a long while to cover something, and they won't unless you bother them regularly to do so, and provide them with plenty of verifiable information. None of this will change the minds of Trump supporters, but it will make them think twice about abusing, demeaning or censoring others.

Hoard money

You need to save money like never before. It is now very likely that another global economic meltdown is coming, because of Trump's protectionist policies and his promise to undo important treaties and other international agreements. Your family needs at least enough money in liquid assets - CDs, savings accounts, etc. - to cover your expenses (mortgage or rent, health care insurance, car insurance, utilities, gas, pet expenses, for nine months to stay reasonably safe. Look for ways to downsize and to save. And absolutely dump Bank of America, Wells Fargo or any other big bank - switch to a credit union!

Final thoughts for this blog

I will not patronize you or downplay the stark seriousness of this situation by saying that "we all need to pull together" or "everything will be fine" or "choose hope!" Those are such insulting things to say to anyone feeling the depth of this situation right now. Such comments come from a place of privilege, from people who are either in denial about what's coming or who won't be deeply affected by such. Such comments are hurtful rather than helpful.

If you are not going to be affected by the severe funding cuts and protectionist trade policies, if your health care and family's safety and employment will all be just fine, if you won't be targeted for harassment because of your skin color or religion or sexual orientation, that's wonderful - enjoy the sense of peace. But millions are going to be at risk, millions who did not vote for the GOP. We are now in a profoundly dangerous situation, and now is the time to protect ourselves, our family, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbors that are most vulnerable. Unless and until American voters come to their senses - and I am quite certain that it's not going to happen in just two years, not even in four years - this is the new reality, not just for the coming months, but for many years.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said "Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic." We now have power without love, and it will be reckless and abusive. And "Oh, it's all going to be okay" comments are sentimental and anemic. Spare me.

I no longer believe in any innate wisdom of or goodness in humanity, let alone regarding the American people. That deeply held belief on my part, a faith I've had all my life, ended on November 9, 2016. I believe there are good people, but I am now skeptical that most people are good, and that a majority of my countrymen are sensible and, at their heart, compassionate and loving. That belief is now gone.

I will make no more efforts to change the hearts and minds of those that vote for xenophobia and racial supremacy, who want to assault the civil liberties of others, whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact is celebrated in screams and memes that shame me to the core. I do not compromise with racists nor with people that abuse and degrade women. I do not reach out to fascists. I do not seek reconciliation with people celebrating the end of civil liberties and health care access for millions. If there is anything this election taught me, other than that most humans are, in fact, not innately wise and good, is that deplorables cannot reached - not with reason, not with facts, not with appeals to humanity. You just have to hope they die off and are replaced by younger, more compassionate people.

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