Next steps

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By: Amanda Carroll, Staff Writer

It happened. It actually happened. America elected Donald Trump to the Presidency.

By now, the postmortem on the 2016 election is already well underway, as is the outpouring of our collective emotions from elation to despair.

I’m not writing this to encourage a dutiful, collective moving on as a country. That would be an exercise in invalidating all that has surpassed this past year and a half. I’m not writing this to perpetuate the “what ifs” that will never come to pass. That is a futile sidetrack into finger-pointing and dwelling in the trenches of blame.

I am writing this to encourage every single person to stop for a moment and really process what happened, to take our time with this singular event in our history.

Here’s the thing: Trump is our soon-to-be POTUS and shall be for the next four years. We cannot change that. It has happened, and like it or not our democratic process ended in this result. However, there are things we can do- whichever party we side with- to engage in personal reckoning, and take action to advocate for the America that emerges from this.

It’s an uncharted future and we all have the responsibility- no, obligation- to participate in the navigation process. Here’s the initial first steps I recommend for recouping from this standstill moment:

  1. Breathe- I have already heard this a million times, but it’s truer now more than ever. Not only breath, but make sure to engage in self-care and when things are overwhelming, slow down and take things one thing at a time.
  2. Reach out- When we live in a hyper-polarized society, it is easy to cut yourself off to avoid processing the discord. Fight the instinct to do so and reach out to be a better advocate and ally for your friends and family but also those whose voices are threatened to be drowned out.
  3. Get involved- This is not a one-size-fit-all recommendation. Get involved in whatever capacity you can with the causes and groups that matter to you and be a catalyst for the world you want to live in. It may be cliche, but this quote really applies: “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
  4. Register to vote (and actually do so next election)- This is a big one. We don’t actually have the right to vote until we opt in and initiate that power. Register now through Turbovote (turbovote.org) and it’s a simple, easy process. Next step? Take a moment to google the people on your ballot to see what they’re about. POTUS is important, but so are judges, school board members, and others who make decisions every day that impact you.

At the very least, no matter how bleak it may seem, we are not powerless. Forward progress happens with participation and doesn’t always happen the first time.

I believe that this moment is not an apocalyptic breakdown nor a resounding confirmation of our country’s ideals, and see it as an opportunity for us to take up the calling of being the next in a long line of stewards of our nation.

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