I was terribly anxious before the election, fearing that Trump might somehow win. I was not expecting that result, but it happened.
First, here’s what I’m NOT going to do: (1) blame Hillary, explaining the defeat through her candidacy; (2) claim that identity politics is at fault because all politics is identity politics; (3) retreat into a cocoon by only engaging with people who share my political views. So, what am I going to do?
First, there are a number of books that I need to read. I have read Hillbilly Elegy, which was helpful, but my list of additional books contains some of those reviewed by Robert Kuttner here. First is John B. Judis’ The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics. Second are two books about the people who contributed the most to Trump’s candidacy and victory in the Electoral College: Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, and Catherine J. Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness and the Rise of Scott Walker. Third is a book edited by John Sides and Henry Farrell, The Science of Trump.
Second, I am going to talk to people who voted for Trump to learn about the issues and policies that drove them to support his candidacy. This is not going to be easy for me; so I’ll start with people with whom I already have a relationship—members of my church family. We share a religious faith, which will make the conversation less confrontational and more likely to yield some substance. If people in my church community aren’t sufficient, I’ll seek additional sources. My purpose is to learn, not to debate, and especially not to judge.
Third, I am going to become more active in advancing those progressive policies that I support. I will do this through the institutions that provide an opportunity to influence and to gain power. My political party and alliances with progressive groups that attempt to influence local politics are my avenues of choice. Hopefully, additional sources for involvement will come from these institutions and my association with people who are a part of those institutions.
Fourth, I am going to stay hopeful and optimistic about the future. There is no doubt in my mind that the Trump presidency will pose a challenge to our political institutions and the democracy that they support. I know that these institutions are resilient, and I will take whatever actions are necessary to preserve them and ensure their continued existence for future generations.