By Katie McBeth
The year 2016 has been a nightmare. Sure, we had some great movies, Beyonce’s Lemonade, and some quality online memes. But this year – in every other regard – has been atrocious. I’m talking of course about the US presidential election, which, despite some modest and important gains for progressive women across the country, resulted in the worst possible outcome for many.
Trump is the President-elect, and it feels like a bad dream. At least over half the country feels hopeless and lost in this new America; and many more are already suffering under the Trump regime. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling pretty hopeless.
However, I’ve thought of some solutions. They might not be immediate, they might take some time; but they are intended to work directly against the actions, laws, and effect of a Trump presidency. If you want to fight the good fight through direct action, I say: “Put a degree on it.”
Social Worker or Counselor
One of the most unfortunate effects of the Trump surprise election win is the massive increase in hate crimes across the country. For people of color, LGBTQIA members, disabled individuals, and women; the world is getting scarier every day.
Social workers are the commonly hidden backbone of society. They are the professionals that help those that have experienced trauma move through it and adjust back to living a normal life. They are vital to keeping the most disadvantaged people safe, healthy, and mentally secure in our terrifying world.
Yet, social workers are struggling in our current state. Mary Hylton, a professor with the University of Nevada, Reno, identified the biggest challenges for social workers today and in the future: “The biggest challenge social workers face is being under-resourced. Social workers are put in the position of tackling the outcomes of huge degrees of social and economic inequality without the resources to always do it adequately.”
Additionally, the ratio of counselor to student in many schools are seriously skewed, making it difficult for professionals to prevent incidents from happening. As one study with the 74 found, some of the largest school districts in America hire more security guards than school counselors. However, schools should focus their energy on preventing issues in the first place, and not reacting to issues after they occur.
Often times rural areas in particular are lacking in skilled social workers or counselors, and are most in need of their expertise. Becoming a social worker or counselor not only gives you the opportunity to help those affected by Trump’s presidency, but also can help prevent future occurrences of hate crimes and assaults.
Similarly, teachers can have a direct impact on the students they teach and can help mold the mind of future politicians and voting citizens. Particularly in elementary school, teachers can take the time to not only teach universal tolerance, but to teach empathy to their young students.
However, teaching is a remarkably under-appreciated job in America. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, American teachers spend more hours in the classroom than any of their international counterparts, but make only a fraction of the salary.
Unfortunately, being a teacher in America is more of a sacrifice than a career, but they are so incredibly necessary to nurturing the future of our country. With the current state of affairs, many subjects in school could be in danger: from the arts, to sexual education, and history (which is not only edited by the “winner,” but is commonly adjusted to fit the narrative of white supremacy and patriarchy). Being a teacher can – in its own way – be a strong act of protest against the systems that oppress so many people.
Teaching and counseling is one way to interact directly with those that are affected by a Trump presidency, but there are ways to directly act out against Trump’s policies, too. Becoming a politician can help shape the future of our country, and ensure a safer path for all citizens.
However, getting into politics can be a tricky business. Often times the best way to begin is through internships with nonprofit organizations or politicians, and lobbying. Simply having a degree in political management will not guarantee you a position on the Congressional floor.
Although often depicted as corrupt and unethical – can be one of the best ways to not only network with current politicians, but to build up and support the interests you care about the most. As the Washington Post explains, lobbying by corporations is on the rise, and is making for an imbalanced field of interest. Joining groups such as the ACLU, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, or local organizations can help them compete with larger corporate entities when it comes to making policy changes on both a national and local level (because local is just as important).
Once you’ve built up those connections, you can venture into running for office. Be prepared to take a few years before you succeed. Even Bernie Sanders failed to win his first couple runs for legislature and governor in his early political days. Like I said before, these plans are long term.
Our future under Trump is looking like a journalist’s dream, but the landscape of journalism is changing rapidly in our social-media-centered world. In fact, many are stating that bad journalism – or “fake news” – is responsible for Trump’s surprise win. Additionally, Trump has a dark history of suing newspapers, journalists, and writers for “hurting his image” (aka liable), and could continue to do so with his upcoming presidency. Not only is this a threat to journalism, but it’s also a direct threat to the Constitution and our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press.
In this way, journalism can be a direct act of protest against Trump. It will not only hold him accountable for his actions and flip-flopping views, but it can also be a combatant against the onslaught of fake news flooding our social media feeds. Journalism is often times a tough, and thankless job, but it is also the best way to keep the voting population informed and infuriated. You can help cultivate the fire of those that are hurt by Trump’s win, and you can help wrangle the populace to action with your words.
Journalism is powerful, and unlike many of the other careers on this list, you can even do it without a degree. Freelance writers are all around the web (like me!) and they can be both good and bad for spreading information. If you want to get involved in journalism, make a pledge to always check your sources, speak with professionals, and work on building your portfolio. Someday soon, you might be writing for the Washington Post or NY Daily News; spreading the good word and continuing to uphold the voices of the people.
None of the Above? You can still make a difference…
If you already have your degree, and are well established in a career; don’t fret! There are still ways to combat the effect of a Trump reign directly. Here are three ways to help those in need or to help organizations that are under threat stay protected.
Volunteer on your weekends with places like Planned Parenthood as a patient escort, or your local refugee organization as a ESL volunteer. They can always use the free help of people in their community, and will happily find an open position that fits your expertise.
Donate food, money, or clothing to local organizations that need the extra supplies. Mostly refugee organizations, women’s and children’s shelters, and local chapters of the ACLU or the Trevor Project need your direct support and action. Similarly, reach out to those on the front lines of protests, such as the #NoDAPL water protectors. They are always in need of your help as they continue to fight government corruption and for the purity of our water.
Call your legislative offices to voice your opposition for Trump and support for the organizations that he threatens. As representatives of the people, our legislative offices are required to listen to our views and represent the voice of the people. Also, calling is more effective when lobbying than online polls, emails, or written letters; but those can help too. Hold them accountable for the next four years and beyond.
Katie McBeth is a Freelance writer and former bookseller based out of Boise, ID. She enjoys reading teen novels, eating mac ‘n cheese, attending indie concerts in small bars, and long walks on the beach. Her love for reading is only trumped by her love for cats, of which she has three. She also has a dog, and he helps keep her grounded. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.