Do you remember what you were doing the moment you found out Donald Trump became the new president-elect? Of all my experiences in altered states, nothing felt more surreal than that moment as I refreshed the live Google page results over and over to make sure. The first news announcement I heard gave me chills as the MSNBC reporter assured this isn’t a dream, “this is us, this is our country, this is real.”
I won’t pretend that I voted or stayed tuned into the program of what each candidate promised if they won. I’m not a fan of reality TV and was generally pretty tuned out until election day. My reasons for not voting are very George Carlin-inspired, but my point is–there is so much work to do outside the ballot box. I’m not terrified of Trump being president. When I put myself in the shoes of a business person, it seems as though his strategy was to capitalize and play by people’s fears and hatred. The scary part is that it worked. His victory is more of a reflection on the public, and to that notion, I take this election as a sign and America’s cry for love, compassion and need for the rising of a conscious and proactive youth.
My heart goes out to those who experience discrimination, hate crimes, or fear for their safety and security. I want us to not only respond with love and stay united, but to get active in our local governments and communities. Here are some ways to get involved:
I’ll admit that this was a wake up call for me and I had to brush up on my knowledge of the structure and function of U.S. governments at all levels. The White House Official Site breaks down the functions of each federal branch, local and state governments, and provides additional resources on agencies, commissions and more. If you want to dive deeper about other aspects of government such as interests groups, political processes, or even quiz yourself to further retain information, I found this SparkNotes study guide to be an easily-digestible and engaging resource as well.
There’s not enough time to fully invest in all political issues and you may never find someone who agrees with every single view you have. However, now is more important than ever to know the issues you care about, the solutions available, and to surround yourself with people who will promote these ideas and spread awareness with you. The Polls listed on iSideWith.com break down the various political issues. iSideWith.com uses data, information and technology to create a sample of where America currently stands on these matters. Being able to have informed conversations with others about these issues is a great start to stimulating change and awareness.
Each state reserves the right to organize their governments according to their state constitution, so structure slightly varies. Below is a diagram of the general structure and the various roles in state and local government (click to enlarge).
You can easily find contact and additional information of elected officials on your city’s or county’s website.
Can you imagine how dope it would be to sit in a city council meeting with your friends and government officials, talking about stuff that matters? Speaking on behalf of a jaded youth, I believe this is the best way to feel like your voice really does matter and contributes to the conversation of change happening in your community. I presume these meetings are not full of fresh, young faces with something substantial to say. That alone really shakes people up. There are countless times when an older person was taken aback by my ability to articulate my thoughts. Why should that surprise people? If more of us spoke up and used our voice, it wouldn’t. We could not only be hope for the older cats, but inspiration to our peers and the youth. There is so much change needed for this country and it starts in your neighborhood! Council meetings are open to the public and published on your county’s or city’s website. (For my Las Vegas peeps you can find meeting schedules here.) Please get out there and speak your intelligent, beautiful mind!
This election has been a huge, heavy bummer to say the least. But let’s not fret and lose sight of the progress made and everything our people has fought for. We gotta stay strong and empower one another. The system is failing us and it’s time we stop relying on it to build the world we wish to see. Let’s fuck shit up the right way (: The counterculture has received its calling. Wake up + stay awake! Let’s take back the American Dream.