9 Ways To Survive The Trump Administration
No matter who you voted for...
1. Keep Up With Current Events.
One of the most important things you can do during a new and divisive presidential administration is to be up to speed on what's happening.
This one is honestly going to take some effort, but nothing that's worth having comes easy. Want to have an opinion on the latest scandal that people are griping about? Is it even a scandal? Or is it actually disturbing? To at least know what is going on is a massive leg-up to staying relevant in the political conversation.
2. Find Reliable and Objective News Sources.
As important as staying up-to-date with current events is, it's even more important to know that your information is as objective as possible.
Objectivity means that there is as little bias (political, corporate, etc.) as feasibly possible. Eliminating bias completely is impossible, but the 2016 presidential election marked a period of informational and media distrust not seen since the yellow journalism of 100 years ago. There are many factors that lead us to where we are now, but ultimately it is up to us citizens and consumers to make sure we are getting quality information.
Three of the most objective major news outlets around are PBS News Hour, Reuters and BBC World News.
3. Study World History.
History is a fickle mistress. She is doomed to be repeated, however not usually in the overt "IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN" way people may think. History, like life itself, is nuanced.
Want to know why people keep making that Hitler comparison? Is our democracy actually in trouble? See for yourself. Does it hold up? Make up your own mind. There are plenty of ways to learn about history in an objective way. Here's a quick tip: If you hear or read a historical claim, look for it elsewhere–chances are, if multiple historians of competing biases back it up, then you can safely assume that claim is credible.
4. Piss Off Your Representatives.
One of the reasons that Donald Trump won the 2016 election is because he was a political outsider. Why is that important? What does it tell us about the constituency that is the American people?
Because electing outside of the political establishment is a symptom of grave systemic issues within it. Dark money gives corporate and special interests far too much influence in legislation, and the reality is, no politician talks about it that isn't under their thumb. But, wait, shouldn't these elected officials be representing the will of the voters, rather than the will of their major donors? Yes. They should. It actually takes a simple fix: Annoy the hell out of your representatives. Call their office and make your voice heard so that they do not vote for legislation against your interests.
5. Study the Enlightenment and 19th Century Politics.
A big part of what makes today's political climate so polarized is due a legitimate crisis in information and political image.
What is liberalism? What is conservatism? What are the modern forms of these ideologies and how did they get there? What are political spectrums are where do your opinions fall within them? Having an understanding of this rhetoric is paramount to understanding why party lines fall where they fall. It also gives insight into the political narrative of the last 200 years and why things have changed they way they have.
6. Educate Yourself In Any Way
With the onslaught of information that everyone claims is false, being able to weed through it all is super important.
There is a very dangerous symptom that's has been circulating for a few decades, which has caused some of the polarization we are in the middle of: anti-intellectualism. For much of the 20th century, science and academics were very competitive on the international stage, thanks in part to the World Wars and the Cold War. Victory was pre-conditioned upon having a scientific and technological advantage over our enemies. But especially since the end of the Cold War and the debate over climate change, science and academia became less important to national defense and more important to justifying political positions. The best way for us to reverse course is to gain skills, any skills, whether it be a trade skill or a liberal art. The process of learning is eye-opening and humbling enough, for we must face our own ignorance and accept it.
7. Question Everything You Read, ESPECIALLY If You Agree With It.
We've focused a lot on information, but there's one thing that absolutely has to be addressed. Our loss of informational objectivity is at its most disastrous when you agree with what you're reading.
When an article or news source matches your worldview, or even worse, you know that it matches your worldview, we have to be careful of being taken advantage of. If we know we are more likely to agree with something, we automatically give it more credibility because it provides positive validation to a familiar concept, one we gain a very real sense of identity from. This becomes dangerous because it makes it very easy for false stories and information to seem more realistic than they are. Moreover, it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of increased political polarization and a normalization of bipartisan extremism because the information your being given is click-bait, meant only to go viral and cause a ruckus, not to be factual or objective.
8. When Talking Politics, Avoid Using Partisan Language or Buzz Words.
Talking politics these days is quickly becoming a dangerous activity. So when faced with such extreme polarization, how do we successfully engage in civil discourse?
The key here is language: The words we use when talking about an issue can much of the time serve as an indicator for our position on it. They're called "buzz words," this is basically "soft propaganda," meant to entrench and attract more voters or interest groups to your position on a particular issue. This kind of language manipulation is Orwellian by nature, but it can't always be avoided. By using nonpartisan language you can get your real point across without anyone reacting to a position you haven't even taken yet.
9. Get Involved in Local, State and Regional Politics.
This is the single most important thing you can do. Throughout the 20th century, the federal government has commanded more and more attention from the citizenry.
Obviously, part of this is due to its expansion in power and size last century. The stealing away of political attention from local and state politics has allowed for elected officials to act against the interests of their constituents, usually due to the influence of dark money. The easiest way to circumvent this is to simply pay attention to what's going on and participate in local and state elections.
By doing this, there is automatically greater pressure on representatives to vote along their constituents' values, simply because there are so many more of them. The more honest our local and state representatives are, the more they serve their voter base. Through increased local participation and voter turnout, we can change the very nature of what it means to be a politician by voting our values into office at the ground level, rather than letting journalists and politicians themselves dictate it for us.