Meryl Streep has spoken: Donald Trump must be held accountable for his speech and his actions. But it's one thing to issue that order to, for example, a congresswoman or a journalist, and another for people who aren't even vaguely involved in politics. How can you hold President Trump accountable in your daily life, when your daily life has so very little to do with him?
Sometimes the president has to attack a person or a group, whether verbally or with actual force — think Japan after it bombed Pearl Harbor, or Russia when it became clear that it had hacked the DNC servers with the intention of influencing the election. Trump's insults, however, haven't come after someone attacked the country, but instead when someone went after him. There's nothing to say that these attacks of his will stop anytime soon, and people are unlikely to stop criticizing him as he begins his term as the American president.
The thing about holding Trump accountable is that there are a lot of ways to do it, and they can range from little things to grand gestures. Donald Trump has attacked a lot of people, both in groups and individually, so you've got a lot of material to work with. The important thing is that you do something.
Trump probably isn't going to change, so the country is going to have to make the changes around him. Without further ado, here are five ways to hold him accountable for his dangerous words.
1. Call Everyone Out
One of the most dangerous results of Trump's entry into politics has been the normalization of racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric, among other things. People are feeling more empowered to voice these ideas because Trump himself has said plenty of bigoted things. If the president says stuff like that, it's okay, right? You know it's not, though. And since there's still no Thought Police in the U.S., you're going to have to stand up directly in the face of any comment like that when you hear it.
This could mean confronting the person saying it, either by outright disagreeing or by simply prodding them to explore that belief further. It's unlikely that a person expressing a racist belief will call himself a racist, so you need to make the point more subtly. If you see posts on social media, respond to them, but take the time necessary to think out a measured response instead of getting directly into a virtual shouting match. The main point is that when someone says something bigoted and it's fueled by something Trump has said — whether it's about a disabled person, a woman, an immigrant, or anyone else — it can't be allowed to stand unchallenged.
2. Make A Habit Of Contacting Your Government Representatives
When Trump says or does or proposes something reprehensible, email your representative in the House or call your senator. Remember, they're officially working for you. But even better than calling your federal representatives is getting in touch with the men and women who represent you on the state or local level. They have a lot fewer constituents to tend to, so they have to listen more closely in order to be elected and reelected.
If you're worried about something going on at the national level, check in and see what your city is or isn't doing to correct it. If there's work still to be done, petition your local government to do it, or start the project yourself. Trump's policies are likely to negatively affect many of the country's most vulnerable populations, but there's a good chance that towns, cities, and states can help to stand in the way of that — especially if they know that the people living there want it.
3. Publicly Stand Up For Marginalized Groups
Trump's candidacy was defined by things like his explosive remarks about Mexican immigrants, his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the country, and of course his flat-out denial of all sexual abuse allegations against him — even after the pussy-grabbing video and dozens of women coming out to share their stories. Now immigrants, American Muslims, sexual abuse survivors, and so many others have all gotten the message loud and clear that their experiences don't matter to enough of the country for Trump not to have been elected.
Now, more than ever, it's important to publicly stand with the people who Trump has actively marginalized, and let people know it. These people must be made to feel safe in their homes, and part of that is knowing that they'll have friends to support them. If you're part of one marginalized group, support the others too. Even if you're not, then make an effort to be an ally.
4. Watch Out For And Combat Abuse
Hate crimes aimed at Muslims in particular have unfortunately become much more common since Trump began his run, and this has got to stop. Women wearing hijabs are particularly easy targets because the hijab is such a visual symbol of a religious belief. There's a great cartoon of how to help if you see a hate crime happening, specifically aimed at helping to protect Muslim women. Basically, it says to pay no attention to the abuser and to just strike up a conversation with the victim, thereby creating a safe space. This applies whether it's a Muslim women, a member of the LGBTQ community, an atheist, or anyone else who could possibly be subject to abuse fueled in part by something the President said.
Hopefully, you won't see hate crimes ever, and certainly not in your day to day life — but you never know. In this case, it's definitely best to be prepared.
5. Support Good Journalism
Donald Trump hates the media — and that's exactly why it needs your support. There's a decent chance that he will try to attack the free press during his presidency, but a free press is exactly the public accountability that the country needs to protect itself against someone with all the characteristics of a tyrant. Authoritarian rulers don't like the media being able to disparage them, but this is exactly what democracies thrive on.
If you can afford it, subscribe to your local paper or a bigger national paper. You'll be supporting the kind of investigative journalism that Trump hates, and the kind of investigative journalism that has gotten us everything from the revelation that Trump may not have paid income tax for almost two decades to the infamous "pussy" video. Those things may not have stopped him from getting elected, but those are exactly the sort of things that the country needs to know. Journalists are the ones who dig them out, and if you support them, you're absolutely doing your part to hold Trump accountable.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you'll no doubt think of your own ways when the situations arise. If you've been paying attention to Trump's cabinet picks and Twitter feed, then you're already on your guard. As the Trump administration begins, now it's time to really start the work.