By now, everyone knows that the hitherto-unthinkable has occurred: Donald Trump has become the President-Elect of the United States. Barring a revolt on the part of the electoral college, he will assume office in January, and the next four years will get underway. There’s been a lot of hysteria about what his presidency could mean from both sides of the aisle, but now that a little more time has passed since the election, it’s easier to look at the situation objectively and evaluate what a Trump presidency means. What can he change? What can he not change? What effects is his presidency already having? And how do we fight back against it?
There are some things, of course, that he can’t do. He can’t declare war without the approval of Congress, for example. He can’t truly make good on his more absurd campaign promises, such as the one to build a wall on the country’s southern border. He can’t unilaterally produce legislation either, though he could issue executive orders. Granted, considering that the party he represents is in control of both parts of the senate, the “checks and balances” system may well check him far less than it is intended to. Indeed, Republican power two of the three branches of government might well present the reverse problem, that a Republican congress has free reign to enact largely whatever legislation is pleases.
There is, however, plenty that a President Trump could do. For one, he very well may shape the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades, considering that two justices, Ginsburg and Kennedy, are in their 80s. For another, he's in the perfect position to pass legislation that takes a huge step backward socially, endangering marriage equality, the right to choose, and civil rights in general. Most dangerously by far, however, is the impact his election has had on the ideology and atmosphere of our country. Hate crimes have spiked since he won the election, according to the New York times and CNN, mirroring a similar spike recorded in the UK following “Brexit.” Even Trump condemning the actions, which he has done, will likely make little difference. He espoused this rhetoric all throughout his campaign, and his success has given that rhetoric a free reign that he cannot undo.
In light of this then, what can we do? What do we do if we have no real power to impact the system, as most of us do not? There’s a few things. We can keep a close eye on legislation on the floor of Congress, and reach out to our own legislators using sites like this one. We can give to organizations like Planned Parenthood, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and others that will need our support in the upcoming years. More than anything else, though, we look out for each other. If there’s some good to take away from all of this, it’s that the majority of Americans voted against this, and that we’re still the same country of people that pushed powerfully toward equal rights for all under President Obama. We need to continue to be those people for each other, to make sure that we intervene when we see hate crimes or harassment. We need, in other words, to fight back against the ideology that has suddenly been allowed to flourish in this country, in any way we can.