7 ways to stay hopeful in this election

Hopeless. That’s how I felt after last night’s Indiana primary results. How distraught I feel over the reality of Donald Trump having nearly sewn up the GOP nomination for president. But today’s blog theme is hope, not hopelessness.

So let’s forget  about the walls he wants to build, about the bans he wants to impose on entire groups of our fellow Americans, about the families he wants to deport and the health care he wants to repeal for millions. Let’s forget about all that.

No? You can’t forget?

No, me neither.

Let’s face it, while it’s hard to imagine, it’s likely this election is going to get a whole lot worse before Trump gets trounced in November. How will we get through the next six months of  all-Trump-all-the-time news coverage?

Here’s how I’m going to try to remain hopeful this election cycle, and not get mired in the mud.

1. Get involved.

Volunteer for a campaign. I was feeling pretty dejected until I signed up to phone bank and knock on doors in the weeks leading up to our state caucuses. Through this work, I met an amazing multi-generational group of people working for our common values. They were energetic and overwhelmingly positive, which went a long way toward countering all the negative I’ve been reading in the news. It lifted my spirits to work alongside them.

Attend an organizing meeting. I’ve also been going to our local democratic legislative district meetings where I’m learning about more ways to get involved in local events and campaigns for candidates and issues I care about. I’ve thrown my hat in to become the Precinct Committee Officer for my neighborhood. If elected I’ll be representing and supporting my Democratic neighbors, informing them about the upcoming November election and helping get out the vote.

Do these things really make a difference, a friend recently asked me? Yes, I truly believe they do. While it’s unlikely I will change anyone’s mind (I don’t even try to), I know my efforts leading up to the caucus were effective in educating at least a few voters about the process, and a few more about the importance of voting. Without my call or knock on the door, they wouldn’t have known where, when or how to caucus and their vote would have gone uncounted. It’s a small difference, but it’s a difference and I choose to celebrate it. It makes me feel better to be out doing something proactive, rather than just sitting at home on my couch talking back at the bad news on TV. I’ve done plenty of that.

2. Clean up your social media. Do you have friends who post political rants on Facebook? If the negativity gets to be overwhelming, consider temporarily unfollowing them until the most heated campaign rhetoric passes. It’s OK, they won’t know. Facebook does not alert them. I have very rarely unfollowed someone because I’ve gotten pretty good at blurring my eyes over toxic messages as I scroll. Admittedly, they sometimes suck me in, which comes to…

3. Do not respond to a political post by a beloved family member unless it can be done respectfully and you can be absolutely certain both sides can handle it. If the original post wasn’t respectful — meaning it was malicious, used name calling, propaganda or a far-right news source, think twice. You may be going down a road with no off ramp.

4. Never, I mean NEVER feed the trolls on social media.

5. Go dark at least once a week. Turn off the news, log off social media. Go do something else. I like to walk in nature, write poetry or read a novel.

6. Serve others. Volunteer at a food bank or a shelter or other marginalized community. Help educate the next generation by volunteering at a school, mentoring a child, or signing up to tutor at the library.

6. Surround yourself with supportive people. I have family who support Donald Trump and other candidates I oppose. They are an important part of my life and will remain that way. It helps to connect on-line and in person with like-minded folks. It helps me remember I’m not alone and there are plenty of others who share my values.

7. Perform a random act of kindness. Buy someone coffee, bring up a neighbor’s newspaper from the driveway, or send a friendly note to someone. You might get more feels than they do. Love trumps hate.

Note: Post is in response to the WordPress Daily writing prompt: Hope.

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