It’s no secret that 2016 has been, in many respects, a no-good-very-bad year for progress. There was Zika, Brussels, Flint, Nice, Orlando, Dallas, Berlin. We’ve lost Prince, David Bowie, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and countless other innocent lives. Just take a look at what’s happened to people over the course of 2016: even Harry Potter, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lady Liberty have taken a tumble.
The challenges that lay ahead for the next year could easily feel bleak and insurmountable. At home, we’re facing four years with a President “whose résumé of failed businesses and alleged sexual harassment is so miserable that he would have trouble finding work at a copy shop” (thanks, Vanity Fair), a cabinet that collectively has more personal wealth than one-third of the country combined, and a deeply conservative Congress looking to roll back many of the progressive victories of the last 8 years. Not to mention, we’re also facing growing instability on the world stage and serious challenges in our relationships with the E.U., Russia, China, and Turkey.
So 2017 is no time for us to back down. It’s up to all of us to look for ways to forge progress and empower activism so we can lay the groundwork for a progressive resurgence in 2017 and beyond. Here are just some ways that you can take matters into your own hands and make 2017 a better, more hopeful year:
- Get involved on the state and local level! 2017 will see gubernatorial and state legislature elections in New Jersey and Virginia and hundreds of mayoral elections across the country. Don’t forget city councils, counties, school boards, special districts and ballot measures. Local elected officials are closest to the people and are uniquely situated to drive progressive policies that affect your everyday lives.
- Show Solidarity. This year saw a revival of rhetoric that insulted and demonized many Americans, from immigrants to Muslims to LGBT people. Cue the Women’s March on Washington, which will happen on Saturday January 21st and hopes to send the message: “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” Get more info and register here. Planning on being in town on Inauguration weekend? Want to figure out how you can resist Trump? Join Generation Progress Pushback for their #ResistTrump bootcamp on January 20th. RSVP here.
- Keep Your Members of Congress on Speed Dial. You can make your voice heard by demanding that your elected officials hold Trump accountable for his radical agenda. Well-organized and vocal groups of constituents and local organizations can go a long way in influencing representatives’ actions (note: here are tips on how you can become indivisible in your opposition). You can start by calling, writing, or tweeting to your Senator to resist Trump’s cabinet picks, who need confirmation by a majority vote of the Senate. While you’re at it, also call on your members of Congress to investigate Trump’s dangerous, unprecedented, and unconstitutional conflicts of interest.
- Share your story. One of Trump and congressional Republicans’ first orders of business in 2017 is trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That would mean stripping health coverage from more than 20 million people. Are you one of the 20 million? Tell us what repealing the ACA would mean to you so the American people (read: congressional republicans) can see just how harmful repealing the law would be. Share your story here.
- See something, hear something, read something? Say something. 2017 is a crucial time to step up your social justice game. Donald Trump, who kicked off his campaign calling Mexicans rapists, will be coming to Washington with a cabinet full of white dudes with a history of racism and xenophobia. What can you do about it? Speak out when you hear racism/Islamophobia/sexism/homophobia (yes that includes confronting your family and friends.) Donate to groups doing important work (NAACP, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, etc). If you come from a privileged position, leverage that privilege and join groups like Standing Up for Racial Justice. Whatever you do, stay informed and speak out when you see injustice.
- Fact Check Everything. This was the year of the “Anti-Journalist” Journalist. As we watched the election play out, we couldn’t help but notice the alarming number of fake headlines. Alt-right and white nationalist sites made their mark, while major outlets struggled to get the true story in the right hands. Not only did propaganda often outperform real stories on social media, at times it actually led to incidents of violence (think: Pizzagate). As we enter 2017, stopping the spread of misinformation will be more critical than ever. So, take an extra second to check the sources. Read. Re-read. And read again. Vigilance is the name of the game. And info is only as good as the last article.
- Join the Resistance. There’s a lot to do and we’re a lot more powerful if we join together. We’ll be leading our #ResistTrump movement and could use some help. To join the resistance, follow us on Twitter (@CAPAction) and Facebook (@AmericanProgressAction); sign up for the Progress Report; and consider making a donation to the Trump Investigative Fund. (Kick in $40 and we’ll send you our Resist t-shirt.)