Actions I have taken to prepare for the Trump administration

It’s been about 116 hours since I realized that Trump won the United States presidential election. I’ve spent that time having sober discussions with friends and loved ones, reading the news, reading opinion pieces, reading history, making spreadsheets, and double-checking my thought process.

This morning the news broke that Trump made the first post-election announcement confirming he will make mass deportations, outlining exactly which people he will deport and saying that he will make a “determination” about which other people he will deport after that. No one can dismiss this as “election talk” or campaign promises he will renege on when he gets into often.

Just in case you aren’t already deeply frightened by this news: Historically mass deportations are a very strong predictor of mass deaths: mass deportations are difficult to execute because other countries don’t want your refugees, so you put them in camps, which get full, and then you start killing the people in the camps. Mass deportations also require a volunteer paramilitary force that very quickly erodes the rule of law and human rights.

At this point I feel an obligation to let people I care about know what actions I am taking to prepare for the Trump administration. I’m not here to convince anyone, I’m just giving you this information and you can make your own decisions based on how much you trust my judgement. But first here is some relevant information about me that many of my friends don’t know.

I spent about seven years feeling suicidally depressed and anxious, due to side effects of undiagnosed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. During that time, I developed a set of checks and tests for my decision-making process to avoid making bad decisions out of anxiety or fear. I was pretty successful in this process: I did not commit suicide, I successfully co-founded and grew a non-profit, I worked full-time, I kept strong relationships with friends and family, and I made good financial decisions – all while a voice was telling me that death was the sensible, reasonable, obvious solution. (I haven’t been suicidal or depressed for about three years now.)

I am using these same checks and tests right now, so I don’t think I’m being alarmist or acting unreasonably. I also don’t have a history of overreacting to elections: e.g., I have never in my life joked even once about moving to Canada if $POLITICIAN won. That is, I don’t have a history of “crying wolf” about election results.

Without further ado, here are the things I have already done:

  • Asked my loved ones to install Signal (and all of them did)
  • Started collecting information on my emigration options from friends
  • Made a spreadsheet listing signs helping me decide whether the fascist regime is coming or not, with weights (UPDATED TO ADD: I’ve now published the spreadsheet)
  • Made an agreement with a loved one about exactly what signs will mean it’s time to leave the U.S.
  • Made an appointment to talk to my immigration (emigration?) lawyer this week
  • Called my loved ones and made sure they either had passports or promised to get them this week (and offered them money to expedite)
  • Checked to see how long it will take to cash out my 401(k) (it’s already in money market funds or I would have moved it to that too)
  • Advised a loved one to go ahead with that house sale they were planning for later in 2017
  • Made lists of the most influential progressive people I know and thought about ways to connect them with each other to take action
  • Started designing an Ally Skills Workshop targeted at privileged folks (mostly white people) talking to “reachable” Trump supporters

While putting together this list, I was also struck by how many things I did months or years ago that people are recommending today. I’ve been acting as though my phone conversations were recorded by the NSA for a couple of years now. I’ve been using Signal for several months. I think twice about what I write in email. I set up a recurring donation to the ACLU in July 2016, and one for Planned Parenthood in July 2014. I donated to political campaigns 4 times as much during this election cycle as any previous one, and volunteered as well for the first time.

My basic feeling at this point is that, yes, what I’m doing is going to be costly if my beliefs about the future are too pessimistic. But I’ll be thrilled if, e.g., I spend $20,000 getting ready for a fascist government and it turns out I was wrong. Hurray! I will be thrilled to come back to this post and edit it and say, “Hahaha! Remember when we were all worried about mass deportations in the U.S.? Boy I feel stupid for falling for that!” I want that to happen. I just don’t see any clear path to that future at this point.

What I do during the next week depends on the political news. I have given up trying to predict what happens. As many people have pointed out, one of the techniques used by fascist regimes is to overwhelm people’s mental processing capacity with contradictory, confusing, and frightening information to stop people from effectively resisting or escaping. So many of my friends have stopped watching the news since the election because it makes them feel too horrible. THIS IS INTENTIONAL. Please stay aware and safe. I love you.

I’ll end this post with a plea to read the sections on mass deportations in Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” Especially compare the actions of Denmark versus Romania and the enormous difference even a small amount of principled resistance made in saving lives. This is the most memorable passage from the book for me (emphasis mine):

Politically and psychologically, the most interesting aspect of this incident is perhaps the role played by the German authorities in Denmark, their obvious sabotage of orders from Berlin. It is the only case we know of in which the Nazis met with open native resistance, and the result seems to have been that those exposed to it changed their minds. They themselves apparently no longer looked upon the extermination of a whole people as a matter of course. They had met resistances based on principle, and their “toughness” had melted like butter in the sun, they had even been able to show a few timid beginnings of genuine courage. That the ideal of “toughness,” except, perhaps, for a few half-demented brutes, was nothing but a myth of self-deception, concealing a ruthless desire for conformity at any price, was clearly revealed at the Nuremberg Trials, where the defendants accused and betrayed each other and assured the world that they “had always been against it” or claimed, as Eichmann was to do, that their best qualities had been “abused” by their superiors.

I challenge you: be the principled resistor that makes the “ruthless toughness” of the Trump regime melt like butter in the sun.

11 thoughts on “Actions I have taken to prepare for the Trump administration

  1. Could you clarify why you would leave the country? I can’t tell if you think it’s because you would be in personal danger (which I consider unlikely for either of us) or you just don’t want to live in a fascist country. If we’re worried about other people in the country, it seems like this is the place to be, to better help them. You don’t think so?

    1. I do think I could be in personal danger. I’ve spoken out against members of Trump’s cabinet and their cronies, and there are other reasons I won’t list here that put me farther up a theoretical enemies list than most people. A common early stage of fascism is random-ish violence in the streets by volunteer gangs of thugs – I don’t think dying that way will help anyone. I’m a feminist activist and writer during the reign of the most sexist cabinet in decades. Finally, the kind of work I do to help can be done remotely – I can write, teach, and speak about ally skills online. I don’t know that I’ll have to leave, but I think it’s reasonable to be ready to leave in a hurry.

      For other folks, I’d recommend thinking harder about the history of fascist regimes before assuming you’d be safe even if you’re rich, white, and natural-born citizens. If you have money now, be aware that it could be seized or runaway inflation could devalue it.

  2. Hello. I’d like to copy some of your text for a facebook post, for which I’d include attribution and a link. I can’t spot the licensing of your blog content. Would that be OK? This is too all important for me not to post something to my friends and family, but I don’t have time to write much of my own words before work this morning. Thank you.

      1. There’s a standard way of doing this called quoting where you put my text in double quotes, say where you got it from and link to it, and then say your words.

        Also you are wasting your time talking to Alison Bate. Go find someone who is reachable and talk to them.

        1. Understood, thanks for clarifying your position about copying. I wanted to ask in case your blog content was Creative Commons or something and I’d just failed to spot it. I’ll happily go back to edit “my” post to quote & attribute as you instruct.

          I understand your thoughts about Alison’s comments. She was a good friend, years ago, and I’m prepared to engage with her not just because of our valued historical friendship, but also because I’m inspired to start writing now precisely because of my guilt over not engaging with these issues during the election, because I’m in a safe blue State and reading the coverage just made me feel ill. Now I feel guilty for my squeamishness. For not having done my part to address the unchecked social normalisation. Given that motivation, it seems counter-productive to not engage with people like Alison. She isn’t going to be turned in the course of a single afternoon. Maybe not ever. But maybe as a result of seeing our debate, other people like my rural nieces and nephews might see it and will at least know that there is more than one point of view than the monoculture they are embedded in. So I have to try to engage constructively, as well as I’m able to muster.

          Best regards.

  3. I’d suggest that if you end up coming back to this post and seeing that the worst didn’t happen then perhaps that’s data that your actions helped it not happen rather than you having been a sucker for thinking it.

  4. Sounds like a very pragmatic and solid approach! Any chance you’d be willing to share the weighted spreadsheet? (Totally understand if you’d rather not.) Also have you written about your Ehlers-Danlos at all – and if so would you mind linking to it? It’s something that I’ve been discussing with my doctor as a possible diagnosis but hadn’t come across anxiety/depression as part of the syndrome in all the literature I’ve been reading through. Thanks!

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