THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-Donald J. Trump and Co. have occupied the Oval Office for over a third of his first 100 days or edging toward 1,000 hours, give or take a few trips to Mar A Lago. Thirty-eight days have passed since Women’s Marches were held across the planet.
To date, social media feeds are still primarily occupied by political posts, to the chagrin of those who long for the days of “cute puppies and grandmas” (this from an actual Facebook post I read a couple of weeks ago!)
Since that first Tuesday in November, many of us have experienced disappointment leading to fear and anxiety. I’ve described the slew of executive orders and statements as brush fires we’re working to extinguish all over the yard while hosing down the house to protect it from going up in flames.
So what can we do next? Can we survive this pace for another three years, ten and a half months?
This past week, I co-hosted a Huddle event, a follow up effort in coordination with The Sister March Network. I attended a Town Hall hosted by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Encino) in the Van Nuys State Building atrium. Rep. Dababneh, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) fielded questions from a standing-room only crowd of constituents. Over the weekend, I also joined a group of Santa Monica and westside residents at the first Bake & Gather event coordinated by baker/restaurateur Zoe Nathan and colleagues. Lines snaked around a park and pastries sold out for the first time within the first hour as participants jammed twenty dollar bills into jars to raise money for the ACLU and Public Counsel.
I spoke with and listened to participants at all these events. Here’s my takeaway. As much as we need to formulate concrete plans to address what’s going on in Washington, D.C., we also need to gather to heal. It’s far too easy to slip into hopelessness and despair. Knowing we are not alone goes a long way toward being able to address and even survive the days of this administration.
During the election cycle, I joined a number of private Facebook groups that either supported Hillary Clinton or opposed Trump, as much to share information and grievances as to help me to process what was happening. During the final days before the election, we questioned what would happen should these groups disband. As a reaction to the outcome, many of the groups are still active but the focus has shifted to resistance, as well as commiserating and venting.
Since the election, and certainly since January 20, we have seen the rise of many groups in response to Trump’s executive orders, cabinet picks, and presidency in general. The shift has attracted many who were previously not engaged in the process but who are fully embracing their new roles as activists. Throughout the country, hundreds of people attend town hall meetings, a far greater number than in years past. I’ve heard from friends who attended town hall meetings in red states where the constituents in attendance were plentiful, infuriated and anxious, just like us in blue states. In fact, more than a few members of Congress have refused to participate in town hall meetings because they don’t want to face the rage and questions of their constituents.
Throughout the country, people are sharing to-do lists to contact representatives and address numerous issues and pending legislation. People are continuing to gather for marches, meetings, and to plan the next steps at every turn. They are mobilizing to turn around seats in the midterm elections. Others are contemplating running for local offices.
This administration is a bit like a dysfunctional or unhappy marriage. Venting and commiserating certainly have value for getting through each day in response to all the landmines -- but taking the next step is equally, if not more, crucial. Complain, express disapproval, find like-minded people for peace of mind but also take steps to move forward.
To find a Huddle group in your neighborhood, visit www.womensmarch.com/100/action2/.
Join the next Bake & Gather March 11, 12-3 p.m. at the (Silver Lake Reservoir’s Meadow 1850 W. Silverlake Drive), hosted by Roxana Jullapat (behind the forthcoming Friends & Family,) Proof Bakery’s Na Young Ma, and Alimento’s Harriet Ha.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.