Focus. Choose. Resist. Impact.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I did not and do not support the presidency of Donald Trump. So when I say that the Trump administration, with majorities in the senate and the house, is going to be able to successfully enact a wide range of policies that bring harm to the United States and its citizens, I express that as an opinion that’s founded on opinions founded on opinions. Okay, so that’s over with.

What comes next is based off the assumption that many of the Trump administration’s policies are bad, and that those opposed to them need to adopt winning strategies in opposition. If, conversely, you believe that the issue platforms expressed on whitehouse.gov will benefit the country, perhaps you can still glean value from this analysis of how to make a difference for what you believe in from a strategic perspective.

Obstructionist politics can work to some extent – on a few carefully selected policy issues – but movements built from the ground up – like the Tea Party – are vastly more effective at advancing a comprehensive policy agenda. Newly formed organizations like Justice Democrats and Our Revolution are focused on the bigger picture of building a sustainable progressive movement in the United States.

Let’s forget third parties that campaign for the big chair but won’t put in the work at the ground level. Let’s avoid getting thrown off and distracted by the onslaught of media coverage on ‘beltway’ issues and click bait controversies. If you’re anything like me, it’s been hard to peel your eyes away what seems like story after story underscoring and validating your every fear. But we’ve got to get focused if we want to get off the sidelines. 

I want to suggest two important tasks we should all take on:

  1. Think about whether you, or anyone in your life, could make a contribution by running for public office. Consider, with clear eyes and a full heart, the grueling nature of campaigns, the fundraising you/they would have to spearhead, and everything else that comes with campaigns. And recognize those extraordinary efforts may not result in victory. If you have a person in mind, tell Justice Democrats right now.
  2. Pick one issue you care deeply about. Is it reproductive rights? Is it protecting water supplies from pollution? Is it improving your local food system? Is it conserving natural lands? Is it homelessness? Obviously there are so many critical progressive causes. Go beyond just the issues Donald Trump is addressing with this week’s round of executive orders. Take the time – days, weeks, months – you need to dip your feet in some of these topic areas. Conduct informational interviews, research, volunteer, experience the real world impacts. And once you decide on about that issue, take a deep dive into the organizations working on it – locally first – and ask tough questions about how they are going to move the needle. Honestly, a lot of them won’t have strategies to win; the sooner you know that the better so you can move on. Eventually, get involved in a deeply personal and significant way. Commit yourself to achieving victories. Make change, and take pride in any kind of tangible change you help bring to fruition. On a planet with over 7 billion people, it’s truly incredible if you, as one person, can have a measurable impact on something that matters.

If you do those two things, we’ve got a lot to look forward to. If you want someone to talk to about your personal journey, please reach out to me, or someone else, who will take the time to offer earnest and thoughtful feedback. If you want to critique my perspective, do so in the comments so we can all become the wiser.

That’s all for now.

– Nate

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