In nearly one month, Donald Trump will place his hand on the Bible and be sworn into the office of president of the United States. No amount of protesting can change that. No amount of anger can change that. And I will admit—I am myself angry. I am angry that the American electoral college system has elected a man known the world over for his blatant racism, proud misogyny, and unhidden xenophobia. I am not alone. I share this anger with countless Americans—more than 60 million to be exact—who are frightened for America’s future.
That majority of Americans is afraid of cuts to essential social welfare programs like social security. They are afraid of dangerous anti-abortion policies making it harder and harder for women to hold sovereignty over their own bodies. They are afraid of policies discriminating against both the LGBT community and people of color.
So, Americans are angry and fearful. But what comes next? Well, the simple answer is that we don’t know. Unpredictability has long been a theme of Trump’s brand. Whether he is firing up crowds at rallies with unscripted and unsuspected remarks or spewing out angry tweets at a moment’s notice, Donald Trump is not predictable. That unpredictable nature has not escaped him as Mr. Trump begins his transition into the White House. Already, he has flip-flopped on the Affordable Care Act, completely reorganized his transition team, and switched his chief of staff from a conservative outsider to the quintessential Republican insider, Reince Priebus.
Still more worrisome is the inability of the left to effectively organize collective action aimed at protecting, implementing, and establishing liberal policies. It is true that liberal students and young adults have been able to organize mass protests in cities across America. And nobody can deny that these protests have succeeded in drawing attention to the widespread frustration with a Trump presidency. They have inspired politicians to publicly denounce Donald Trump and his newest disaster—Steve Bannon. The problem with these protests, however, is that the attacks on Trump and the solutions they offer are based not on issues but on character. And it is that kind of character-based politics, that kind of complete dismissal of issue-based politics, that enabled Donald Trump’s ascension in the first place.
We can do something to reverse this shift in American politics—that is, the shift from issue-based politics to character-based politics. We can begin once more to act as accountable citizens to promote and defend the best interests of our national community. And if, for you, the best interest of your community is centered around one key issue, then you can make change in that issue. You can call representatives. You can can organize political groups. And you can make sure that the hate of a Donald Trump presidency is neither legitimized nor transcribed into hateful public policy.
So let this election be a turning point in American political discourse. And by unifying the left against Donald Trump’s policies, we will enter new age of political involvement in an issue-based political system.