Recently, a young relative of mine was dismayed at the thought of our new president. How to explain to someone so young what to do in the days ahead? It’s not easy. So, I said the simplest thing possible: It’s time for us to be the very best people we can possibly be, because when you are surrounded by the character-less, having sterling character is what matters. It’s precisely what can make a difference in the day-to-day of things.
But for us adults, there’s got to be more, right? We’ve screamed our outrage into the Twitterverse, drawn our social media lines in the sand. We’ve donated to important organizations that are doing critical work to fight for our civil liberties. The spectacularly inspiring Women’s March is over. So, what do we do now? We need a plan.
Besides calling our elected officials and making our positions clear, that plan has to be the midterms. And by that, I mean voting out of office every noodle-spined Republican who enabled this monstrously flaccid excuse of a public servant to ascend to the highest office in the country. Without a sane check in the House or the Senate, without a sober voice to counter the sheer volume of dangerous instability spewing forth from the White House, our country is at the whim of someone who demonstrates daily how unfit he is for office.
So, let’s look at the numbers. All 435 seats in the House are up for re-election, as well as 33 Senate seats (25 of which are Democrats). Yes, it’s a tough road in the Senate: One reason news reports after the election forebode brutal midterm prospects for Democrats is because a number hold seats in districts that the president carried. Elsewhere, there are gerrymandering concerns. And yet, it might seem strange, but I’m beginning to have hope. This is why: The first days of the president’s term have been a veritable dumpster fire.
Thus far, he’s picked more fights with the media, lied about the number of spectators who attended the inauguration (claiming the media doctored photos, as if the inauguration hadn’t been televised live and the world didn’t see the incoming administration walking past empty stands along the parade route), insulted hundreds of thousands of people who came out to protest (asking why didn’t they vote—chances are they did, which is why Hillary Clinton won the popular vote), visited the CIA in what was reportedly a disappointing encounter (the president used the opportunity once again to blame the media). In other words, he’s doing the people’s work—very presidential stuff happening in D.C.
This is the lamentable pattern, and, like many, I’m furiously weary of it by now. Cue the tiny violin for the poor billionaire white guy: Everything is so unfair. Anyone who counters him, his grand ego, or his administration’s minions are accused of lying. Those who dare challenge him on the veracity of anything are painted as dishonest and crooked. When all else fails, there’s interminable whining that things are just rigged.
It’s pathetic, this toddler-esque defense. It’s embarrassing, that someone so lacking in character or integrity should be leader of the free world. But beyond that, and more chillingly, this is how authoritarianism begins. Spreading falsehoods, promoting outright lies, neutering freedom of the press—what country does that sound like to you? That’s right. Russia.
So, where is the hope, you ask? Look at the overwhelming amount of evidence that’s piling up, the daily occurrences that are outrageous and alarming, that at some point will be impossible for supporters to ignore any longer. I have faith that the people who supported this Putin Puppet will see that he isn’t interested in fighting for them, that all those empty lines sputtered along the campaign trail were designed to make this about the thing he cares about above all else: himself. Signing an executive order about the Affordable Care Act on Friday won’t help anyone in the middle-class as he promised. It will, however, create chaos in the healthcare industry. Markets don’t like uncertainty. Really, no one does when it comes to their healthcare, so taking steps to whittle away a law enabling millions to have health insurance without instituting a replacement plan will force people to really see what’s going on. I have to believe that. I just have to.
For those of us who resist what this administration stands for, if we articulate our position for something better properly, if we show sterling character in the face of lies and self-aggrandizement, we’ve got a chance. But we need to identify candidates now to challenge Republicans in 2018. And if the case for these challengers is made with facts and compassion (which this administration has shown an alarming disregard for), I think we’ve got a chance of getting a good foothold in Congress, a foothold that could serve as an effective check to an executive branch that already feels dangerous. Because look at the abject lunacy so far—it’s been two days. Two days. What will happen next week? Imagine what could happen in two years.
Of course, I’m still crossing my fingers for impeachment and removal before then. But the point is, the midterms are the best shot of finding a way to resist this administration’s most dangerous actions. There are plenty of terrific folks out there who are honest, hard-working and who would be true champions for those who need it most. Our country is filled with bright, talented, loving people. So, who do we got?
We need a plan.