A great many of us fear the next four or eight years of a Donald Trump Presidency, and for good reason. But this moment in our history also offers a unique clarity: we can't fantasize about Democrats protecting us from the worst that Republicans do, not merely because, well, their record there is pretty poor, but also because they can't now. Only we can protect ourselves, and the sooner we understand that, and practice that, and live that, the better. Hence I offer seven things we should avoid doing when Mr. Trump ascends to the Presidency.
1) Do not bother with media horserace coverage. If the media obsess about something, assume it's not worth your time -- or that they want to distract you from something more important. When they report on fissures within the Republican party, you should assume any such "fissures," or reports about them, are feints, designed to lull you into a false sense of security so that you don't perform your duty to your country by giving your counsel to your elected representatives. Certainly do not bother with media speculation on how much of the coming horror is Mr. Trump's fault and how much is Mr. Pence's, or that of Republicans, or Democrats. If we're all hurting, it doesn't matter -- it only matters what we do about it.
2) Do not accept the narrow choices Our Glorious Elites offer in policy debates. When they talk about government deficits, the only choice they offer is spending cuts; about Social Security, benefit cuts; about Medicare, privatization. But we know better: we can (for example) improve Social Security by lifting the cap on payroll taxes so income over $117,000 can be taxed into the system; we can improve Medicare by letting it negotiate its own drug prices and by hiring more investigators to stamp out fraud -- hell, we could improve Medicare by expanding it to include all Americans (or, if we must compromise, by allowing folks 55 and up to "buy into" Medicare). There are always good alternatives to the moronic ideas Our Glorious Elites peddle -- after all, isn't America the can-do country that always finds a way?
3) Do not support Democrats. Not just because they're weak, and not just because their weakness has enabled the coming horror, but because it's not your job, as a citizen, to "support" a politician -- it's the politician's job to support you. They're supposed to do our will no matter what party they belong to or what ideology they profess to hold, so don't concentrate on getting more politicians in office who might listen to us: just call them and email them and demonstrate in front of their offices until they have no choice but to listen to us. Now, Democrats will ask you to soft-pedal your demands, because it doesn't "help" them appeal to the "center," or something. Ignore them when they do. Seven short years ago, they held the Presidency, a 70-seat majority in the House, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and they still lectured us about "the art of the possible," rather than widening the palette of the possible, as Republicans always do, no matter their numbers in Congress. Your will is your will, your duty to express it to your representatives is inviolate, and any Democrat who insinuates otherwise deserves defeat.
4) Do not "give Donald Trump a chance." Of course we all want him to do well, despite the multitudinous indications that he won't, but "giving him a chance" is, again, beside the point of a democracy -- our duty is to express our will, and Donald Trump's duty is to execute that will. There is no "waiting and seeing" in the country we love; there is only doing, and people who tell you to "give him a chance" (or "accept the results," or "get over it") really have a different aim in mind: they want you to be silent, because they fear that if you're not silent, you'll derail their little gravy train. They're right to be afraid. And, seriously, Mr. Trump is going to be a terrible President. You wouldn't look at a pile of dung in the middle of the sidewalk and "give it a chance" to magically transform itself into meatloaf, would you?
5) When terrorists inflict a 9.11-sized (or larger!) attack upon us -- and they will, we just don't know where or when -- do not "pull for Trump" the way we all pulled for Mr. Bush. In fact, when they do attack, your solemn and immediate duty as an American citizen is to criticize Donald Trump for failing to keep us safe. And when I say "immediate" I mean "the minute of." He deserves no less, having already strutted around like he knows everything (more than "the generals," even!) while ignoring most of his early intelligence briefings. All this, after 54% of Americans voted for someone else for President! If his cock-swinging arrogance means anything, it means he gets no grading on a curve when it comes to protecting our country. And don't flinch when Our Glorious Elites then say "how dare you attack the President at a time like this!" Criticizing the President, at any time, is one of your inviolable rights as an American, so do not be silent when Our Glorious Elites bid us be silent -- be ten times as loud. For America is stronger than any one President, and criticizing a President does not injure our country. And anyone who thinks it does is a weakling. Make sure you let everyone know that, and make sure you use the word "weakling." They love calling us weaklings, so they deserve some of their own.
6) Do not take slurs on your character lying down. When they say "you hate America" or "you're a traitor" or "you're with the terrorists" or "you want Donald Trump to fail," do not be courteous in response -- be fierce, and don't be afraid to shame those who attack you. Too many liberals think shaming is something only conservatives do, but it's not -- it's something civilized people do, to anyone who's injured their community. And certainly don't worry whether you seem "too angry" or not, because slurs against your character deserve nothing but anger -- and your enemies will attack you for "being angry" even when your voice is perfectly even and low. But when they attack you, remember this: Our Glorious Elites are morally and intellectually bankrupt, and their program of austerity-for-the-people-but-gluttony-for-themselves has led to nothing but disaster all over the world, so they can't win arguments on the merits anymore -- all they can do is lie about our patriotism, our strength, our intelligence, our knowledge, and our commitment. Don't be afraid to give them hell when they do. Because hell is what they deserve.
7) Do not allow Our Glorious Elites to sow doubt inside you. You are right, and they are wrong. It's that simple! If you want our government to provide the good services we've paid for with our taxes and then get out of our way, you are right, and the people who want to cut your services and funnel your hard-earned taxpayer money to their cronies and spy on your every move are wrong. And if you have learned (either from emotionally manipulative people or from post-modern literary theorists) that there is no good and evil, unlearn it now. Our Glorious Elites are evil, and they know we know that, so they're going to try to take everything from us -- our right to dissent, our right to privacy, our right to clean air and clean water, our right to an economy that works for all of us and not just banksters, our right to protection from financial predators, our right not to get the crap kicked out of us by police, and our right to a safe and secure old age. Taking away these things is evil, and the people who would take them away are evil. So the time for navel-gazing is past. The time for civilized people to act is now.
Most of us have now twice experienced eight-year Democrat Administrations that consistently failed us. A far-right Republican Administration, one that ran roughshod over our rights and listened only to its super-rich cronies, followed the first one, and by all indications, a worse far-right Administration will follow the second. That could wind up being 32 years of America vacillating between weak Democrats and malicious Republicans, and we need to break that wheel. But we won't break that wheel by trying to help the damn Democrats. We will only break that wheel by saying no to Our Glorious Elites' attempts to keep us spectators in our democracy, in our country, and by speaking out so powerfully that politicians in both parties will have no choice but to follow us. So when your friends and relatives and neighbors ask you "what do you think will happen?" you should give one answer and one answer only: whatever we make happen. Because that is the stone-cold truth. Either we, the American people, stop Our Glorious Elites from destroying the country we love -- or no one does.