Like most Americans, I counted down the weeks and days until Election Day. Sure, I was excited about the election of our first female president, just another barrier to be destroyed by the wave of progress our country has made in the last eight years. But selfishly, I was equally excited to be able to stop paying attention to politics. I couldn’t wait to stop obsessively checking Twitter for news and poll numbers, to stop expending emotional energy on the absurdity that spilled from the Trump campaign every day. I couldn’t wait to go back to thinking about holiday cards and arguing about college football rankings. I couldn’t wait to get back to spending my free time on frivolous things while progress rolled on all around me.
But then the unthinkable happened. And I, like many others, was rudely awakened: Progress is not, in fact, inevitable. After Obama’s election and reelection, the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, and the first female presidential nominee of a major party, I had unwittingly come to believe that progress would simply happen by inertia without me needing to do very much. Now I see how wrong I was; not only is progress completely avoidable, it can also be undone very quickly, as we can see from Trump’s staff and cabinet picks. For progress to happen and to last, all of us need to be actively working for it year-round, not just for a few months every four years.
Here is a list of things we can do for the next four years and all the years after that. As civilians, we may not be able to stop a Trump inauguration, but there’s a lot we can do to fight him and try to make life as safe and good as possible for those who stand to suffer under his administration. I hope we channel all of the grief and rage we’re feeling into action. As much as I would love to stop feeling terrible, I hope we never forget how the last few weeks have felt, as Hua Hsu wrote in his amazing New Yorker piece, so we never stop putting this kind of energy toward justice and progress. I hope that we seize this opportunity for all marginalized communities and their allies to unite. And I hope that the fruit of our grief is abundant.