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Surviving Hurricane Donald
A few words of advice for the week and months ahead
This weekend, the kids and I rode out Hurricane Hilary here in Southern California. We were prepared for the worst, and fortunately the effects on our location were much less than predicted, though just as bad in other parts of the state.
Getting through it was a slog. The preparation required for our house and our family was an enormous amount of effort for me as a single mom with two young kids, and the waiting it out, wondering if we’d lose power or what we’d do if it was out for days, was stressful in and of itself. And that’s without the earthquake that struck mid-storm.
Fortunately, we’re fine, but this week, we’re facing down another kind of hurricane: a GOP debate in which Donald Trump will be the absent elephant in the room around which everything will be revolving, and Trump’s booking the following day in Fulton County on a multitude of crimes, the result of which will be a mug shot of a former president for the first time in history. All eyes will be on him, as he likes it.
It’s important to consider how to get through this moment without losing focus on the threat to our democracy that looms ever larger when we just keep focusing on Trump and his people. Here’s my advice.
Donald is going to do what he’s going to do.
Much like a hurricane, one thing about narcissists is that you can rely on them to always be unpredictable. In their quest for attention, what they do tomorrow is likely to be more outrageous than what they did yesterday, because they’re constantly trying to find new means of acquiring narcissistic supply.
So how do we cope with it, let alone in a week where all eyes are on him? We prepare for the worst.
Much as I did over this past weekend, we should batten down the hatches and expect him to engender outrage, incite violence, and interfere with his investigations and the jury pool. Consequences for this behavior are coming should he do this, in the form of potential pretrial detention and earlier trial dates; this too we have no control over, as it lies in the hands of the judges overseeing his multiple prosecutions.
But if we expect the worst, we’ll be less susceptible to the outrage machine of non-stop media coverage, and instead remain calm, strategize for the survival of democracy, and ride it out.
The GOP has made its bed.
As with my neighbors who refused to abide by local do-not-drive orders during the hurricane here this weekend, we all have to live with the consequences of our choices. If a flash flood happens while we’re out in our cars, and we lose our vehicles or worse, we can’t say we weren’t warned to stay home.
Similarly, the GOP has gone all in on Trump, and even with the few candidates who have not, all the discussion on the campaign trail is still about him. The party is on their way to epic losses in 2024– which is not to say that we on the left can become complacent; far from it– and we have to let them live with that consequence.
Focusing on their internal disputes isn’t relevant any longer. We need to stay focused on our own choices for our own survival instead.
Filter out the noise.
Whenever we’re facing down things that scare us with an unpredictable outcome, our fight/flight response is triggered. This leads us to shut down, struggle to engage our rational brains instead of our primitive ones, and to fail to act with strategic aplomb.
So how to we cope with a political hurricane? My best advice is to hunker down and take care of yourself. Turn off the tv. Read a book. Engage only when you feel up for it. Nourish yourself well.
This weekend, instead of panicking, the kids and I chose to use our weekend inside during the hurricane to snuggle up, watch a Dancing with the Stars marathon, and play Yatzee. We checked in with the weather news a few times throughout the day, but mostly we just focused on spending quality time with each other.
This is a good recipe for surviving any kind of storm. We need fortitude for the days and weeks ahead, and if we burn ourselves out on Donald’s mad responses to every moment of personal consequence, we’ll have nothing left for the marathon of 2024 political organizing that awaits us.
Preparation for 2024 begins now.
Instead of allowing Trump’s behavior to trigger our fight/flight response, or paying attention to the ongoing slow-roll destruction of the GOP, we can prepare now for 2024 to ensure the survival of democracy. Just as I brought in my deck furniture and stocked the fridge in anticipation of this past weekend’s hurricane, we need anticipatory strategies for the survival of our political home to get ready for 2024.
Democracy is truly on the line in 2024, and we have to start by understanding what we’re dealing with.
I wouldn’t listen to someone who told me to prepare for a hurricane by listening to Animal Planet instead of the Weather Channel. Similarly, third party candidates and those seeking to make a name for themselves by claiming Biden should be primaried must be ignored. The idea that we should give quarter to political quacks when Biden has a historic record and will be the nominee, and when our survival as a nation is on the line, is crazy talk.
We all need to get on board with his re-election campaign, even if there are ways in which we still want to push his administration to do better in the second term.
As well, we all individually have to do our part. My house will not be protected in a hurricane by my neighbor’s preparation. I have to do my own work, and collectively we can then support each other in times of crisis through mutual aid. The same is true of democracy.
To that end: Have you looked up your local primary date? Do you know who is running for your school board, for your House seat, whether any of your local officials are running for reelection and who they are? Have you strategized for how you’re going to participate personally in deep canvassing strategies? Have you figured out how you’re going to volunteer for campaigns and issues that you care about? Have you made an election preparation plan? Are you ready?
Start now, because these choices will determine whether we make it through this latest round of Hurricane Donald or not.
My best advice is to prepare for the worst, strategize for your participation in the 2024 cycle as if your life depends on it (because for many of us, it does), filter out the noise, and get to work on uplifting candidates and causes you care about.
The storm is looming, and whether we survive it is up to us.