From Joining Protests to Running for Office, Here’s How You Took Action After the Election

“I will never take democracy for granted again.”

Mother Jones illustration

On the one-year anniversary of the election, we asked Mother Jones readers what the election inspired them to do—or not do. From marching in protests, voting in local elections, and even running for office, here’s a selection of what we heard. We’ve lightly edited the responses for length and clarity. 

Pam Monroe, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I was distraught and in a very dark place, wasn’t sure I could continue in my career as a university professor teaching public policy. I worked very hard to CHOOSE light and peace and joy. I couldn’t change anything on a large scale, but a friend advised me to identify a group I thought would be hurt by Trump and find a way to serve that group. I volunteered for the first time with refugees living in my community and now am deeply involved with helping a family of Sudanese refugees, a husband and wife, their young child, and now a baby on the way! It has given me such joy and agency to help this family, and I’ve learned so much from their humility, strength, and resilience. I can’t change Trump but I can serve the people right in front of me and that’s what I’ve done. It has helped heal my heart.

Katy Kreller, Meridian, Idaho

I got tired of complaining and wanted to DO something. So, operating from the principle that all politics is local, a friend and I started a Facebook group called “Idaho Daily Action.” Now, Idaho is one of the most conservative states in the country, per capita. But there’s a small clutch of progressives in and around some of the larger cities. We hoped to mobilize these people to help influence our elected leaders and keep them honest. So each week, we publish a list of one simple thing our roughly 500 members can do each day to support the ideals of health, safety, peace, understanding, access, and democratic government. We haven’t missed a day since January 29. We’ve advocated for everything from donations in Mike Pence’s name to the local PP chapter to buying a meal at a local restaurant owned by immigrants. We make a lot of calls to our small Congressional delegation on topics from health care to gun control. We hope to create positive change through local action.

Ian Rose, Beaverton, OR

I was a contract web developer, a good but not terribly inspiring job, but if that election had gone the other way, I’d almost certainly still be doing it. After Trump won, I started cold-calling resistance organizations until one gave me a job. Not even paid, just something to do and break through the paralysis. Now I work for that organization full-time, and we just contributed to the big wins in Virginia and Washington state.

Samantha Llanos, Queens, NY

First, I cried for a few days (weeks), then realized the only way to feel better would be to take action. I donated to various organizations like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and the like. I subscribed to the New Yorker, Washington Post, and the New York Times. I vote in every local election and I joined a local feminist group where we work to make our community a better place by running voter registration drives, hosting events for refugees, and fundraisers for the LGBTQ community and victims of Hurricane Maria. I’m hoping to start a progressive political organization on my college campus soon in hopes of getting more people my age actively engaged in politics!

Jim Almy, Sagle, Idaho

In late 2011, I retired as a Patrol Sergeant from a major city police department in the Dallas – Ft. Worth metropolitan area. I never considered myself politically active in any particular way. The emergence of “Trumpism” in general, and the election of Donald Trump in particular, drastically changed all that. While I may have been inwardly sympathetic to some of the few protests I witnessed from the opposite side of the (mostly figurative) barricades during my time as an officer, I would never have imagined myself participating in one. Since that gut-wrenching election day, however, I have participated in three protests and/or rallies that were either in opposition to Trump or his policies, actions, and/or statements. I also attended my first Congressional Town Hall meeting. I had never written or telephoned my Congressman or Senators prior to the election of Trump, and I have now done both many times and will continue to do so many more times until this abomination of an administration is behind us.  

Trump and his movement are a clear and present danger to our form of democracy, our ideals, and possibly even our existence as a nation. My consistent outspokenness regarding that conviction has cost me numerous casual friends and acquaintances, mostly former coworkers, but I’m fine with that. It’s shameful to me that such a wide swath of my former profession, law enforcement, is so adamantly supportive of such a despicable and immoral person as Trump.

That is how my political engagement has changed since last November 9th. I feel that my resistance to this misadministration is feeble compared to what so many others have done and are continuing to do. I would like to do more, and I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing until Trump and his sinister movement are merely a regrettable period of our history.

Nicole G, Montreal, QC (originally Dayton, MD)

I have to admit, I haven’t done anything of importance. I’ve spent a fair amount of time explaining how the US government and elections work to Russian (where I was living at the time of the election) and Canadian (where I’ve largely lived since late 2013) friends; I’ve managed not to kill any family members (headlocks have occurred though); I’ve shared maybe more US politics-centered news articles on social media. But, it comes down to the fact that as an American living abroad I’ve done almost nothing besides share information and try to explain things to non-Americans.

Dotty Carmon, Cincinnati, Ohio

At age 65 I finally took an interest in what our government was doing. I’m not proud of just being a minimally informed voter till that time. But since the election, I started reading at least one newspaper a day, subscribed to 2 news magazines (including MJ), got involved with the local March for Science, got signatures for a ballot issue to end gerrymandering in my state, attend a women’s political group once a month, and contact my MOC almost every day. My next plan is to work on the “get out the vote” issue by joining an organization that gets people registered and to the polls.

Traci Kitchen, Worthington, Ohio

The very next day after the election, I took sidewalk chalk when I walked my dog through the neighborhood. I knew some of my neighbors were as shocked, stunned and saddened at the outcome as I was. I drew a pink heart on each of their driveways. I wanted to draw a giant sad face on my driveway, but I drew a big peace sign instead.

Two days later, I made my first protest sign and attended a march on the Ohio State campus. Since then, I have made countless signs and marched countless times. I will never take our democracy for granted again.

Gwendolyn Holbrow, Framingham, MA

After the 2017 election, I was so disgusted with the Democratic Party that the next day I unenrolled as a Democrat. I canceled my New York Times subscription of many years standing, as I felt they had been dismissive and disrespectful of Bernie Sanders, were in the tank for Hilary Clinton, yet still gave Trump excessive and uncritical coverage. I spent a few weeks avoiding the news, reglazing broken window panes, and knitting for the first time in decades, as I tried to make sense of this Brave New World and recover my equilibrium.

I donated to the ACLU. I went to the Women’s March in DC. In January, I decided to run for local office and pulled papers for Selectman against two incumbents and another challenger for two seats. I re-enrolled as a Democrat. I joined my Town Democratic Committee. I participated in progressive candidate training, and I joined Our Revolution and was endorsed by them in my race. I joined an anti-racism organization, and started attending Black Lives Matter vigils and immigrants’ rights protests.

Since all the national Democratic wins of yesterday’s election, and the local sweep of more progressive and diverse candidates over the same old establishment Dems, I’m feeling much better than I did a year ago, but I am still disgusted with the Democratic party. We deserve basic protections for all, such as health care, good public education, food and housing security, a higher minimum wage, voting rights and action on climate change, that are normal in other wealthy countries. Not to mention gun control and the need to rein in corporate power and the 1%. I don’t understand how anyone can sit by and watch the world go down the tubes without feeling some responsibility to do something about it!

Jonathan Sangster, Chicago, Illinois

1. Monthly donation to ACLU.
2. Monthly donation to PP.
3. Stop cutting my hair. For the next 4 years. It’s a type of personal political protest about the visibility and representation of black people in this country.

Marie Prins, Colborne, Ontario

What did I do as a sleepless American living in Ontario, Canada the day after Trump’s election? I took the step I should have taken years ago—I downloaded the Canadian citizenship applications for my husband and myself, filled them out, sent them in, and became Canadian citizens on August 4, 2017. After so many years of sitting on the fence, I knew in my heart which country I wanted to live in for the rest of my life and it wasn’t the United States. While our whole families still and will always live in the US, our hearts are here and we’re very proud to carry Canadian passports when we travel. Thanks Trump, you made a big difference in our life.

Bridget McGinn, Bend, OR

After the election I started donating to organizations including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I subscribed to MS. Magazine and the Washington Post. I attended an Emerge training for women interested in learning more about running for office. At that training I connected with a young woman who decided to run for a local board position and I volunteered on her campaign, taking her head shots and designing her campaign materials. I cried when she and two other women from our training won their races. Inspired, I am now committed to volunteering my services to other women running for office.

Most importantly, I am now seeing a counselor to help me address the impact that being sexually molested at the age of 11 has had on my life. When Trump was elected, it hit me very hard and took me back to a place that was a sort of mental hell. I never want to feel that powerless again. I am working very hard on “reclaiming my time” and power, and I am determined to continue to work toward electing progressive, ethical leaders.

It is empowering to put into words all of the actions I have taken in the past year when honestly it feels like I have spent a great deal of time huddled under the covers with my dog next to me keeping me sane. After writing this I’m damn proud of the actions I have taken despite experiencing serious emotional distress. Some days are better than others, but in general I am getting stronger every day.

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