Donations are surging, petitions are circulating and raking up big numbers, news subscriptions are up, congressmen and senators phone lines are flooded and people are organizing.
One clear-cut positive to the election of Donald Trump, has been the response. There was the initial shock and disbelief, the residue of which is still present in the air, but it was immediately followed by action. The period of mourning was brief and served to wake people up, to embolden their sense of civic duty. If I count up the numbers of emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter DMs from people over the last year and a half asking me how they can get involved in the political process, the grand total would equal about 1/5th of the messages I’ve received over the last week alone. For people in their 20s and 30s, especially those on the liberal end of the spectrum, the last eight years has been a model of imperfect yet consistent progressive politics. So many left-wingers just sat back, trusted Barack Obama, and never felt the need to participate much beyond voting and sporadically sharing something on social media.
There was an informed detachment at work here, and when it comes to government, complacency is a virus.
The United States is not a direct democracy, we are a hodgepodge if there ever was one. We’re part constitutional/representative democracy, part republic, and part plutocracy—a mixtape filled with remixes, covers, mash-ups and a few original tracks. But even though we (the American public) only vote on laws and governmental appointments through the proxy of our elected officials, we are far from powerless. Donald Trump’s victory and the statement affixed to it that reverberated throughout the globe on November 8th has proved to be a fist-to-the-sky motivator.
As the Washington Post reported, non-profit donations have absolutely skyrocketed since Trump’s win. Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood told the Washington Post they received 260,000 donations since Nov.8th (72k of which were donated under Mike Pence’s name.) The Post also reported the Anti-Defamation League has received 50x the number of donations they typically receive this time of year. The ACLU, Trevor Project, Should She Run, Naral Pro-Choice America, Human Rights Campaign, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Lambda Legal, National Immigration Law Center, Sierra Club, and the International Refugee Assistance Project have all reported significant surges over the last few weeks as well.
And the response is not only monetary. Planned Parenthood Maryland reported a 2,400 percent increase in applications since the election. Kayla Santosuosso, who works as Deputy Director at the Arab American Association of New York, started a Google document called, “Yes, I’ll accompany my neighbor.” The form is “for New Yorkers who are willing to accompany their neighbors on their commute in light of recent harassment and threats toward people of color, LGBTQ folks, and Muslims.” Santosuosso initially shared the list on Facebook and said she “expected 30-40 people in my friend circles who I figured would be willing to respond to the one request I had received for accompaniment.” Since that day there have been 5,500 sign ups. There are examples like these scattered throughout the country.
Thousands have been protesting in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. Now these are liberal havens, so the reaction is no surprise, but the turnout has been significant. In speaking with a few protesters in New York, most of them were out there as a show of force, as a statement against what a Trump presidency broadly represented.
People are motivated.
I’ve had friends/acquaintances/readers message me asking what they should specifically say to their congressman or senator when they call his/her office to voice opposition to a recent appointment. I have seen office numbers circulate the digisphere with attached reports of busy signals and continued call attempts. I’ve noticed far more people reading and sharing articles on politics and government. The New York Times, Washington Post, Mother Jones, ProPublica, and The Atlantic have all reported increases in subscriptions and donations in November. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had conversations at bars over the secretary of education and the potential new head of the EPA with people who, prior to 2016, could not name any cabinet positions beyond Secretary of State.
Now much of this sudden and largely unprecedented rise in engagement is certainly reactionary activism—some aspects will peter off, but others will stick, and some are bound to grow.
This is all good news. The more engaged and informed we are, the more we can hold the government accountable. The whole government, on all sides. It takes an especially unique jolt to get a serious subsection of the American populous on their feet like this.
If the Trump presidency turns out to be as calamitous and damaging as many think it will be, the citizens of this nation will be there to raise hell about it.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.