how to respond?

I offer this flowchart in case it can help anyone to think about how to respond to the devastating results of the election. I am sure it is incomplete. Also, it doesn’t present stark alternatives: options can be combined. In fact, I suspect we need people working on each and every one of these boxes, and an individual can address more than one. However, we cannot all do everything all the time, and I’m using this flowchart to think about how to allocate my own time and attention. (Click to expand.)

For a revised version (March 22, 2017) please see how to respond, revisited.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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  • Chris Beem

    Very interesting, Peter. Smart and helpful. Here’s a point I think worth considering: Immigration, tax policy, trade: these are issues where Trump could make changes that might hurt many people. Climate change, OTOH, is an issue where his decisions could well destroy the planet. Time is not running out–it has run out. We don’t have four more years left to wait. Therefore, I would suggest that anyone who is worried about repairing the civic fabric or reforming politics has misplaced priorities.

    • Ana Lecticas

      Respectfully disagree. Different people bring different skills and can concentrate in different ways. Also – tactics and issue goals can and should work in tandem.

    • Jessica Peacock

      As a climate advocate I respect where you’re coming from; however I think there can be considerable overlap between these strategies, and I would disagree that anyone NOT focused on climate change has misplaced priorities. If the safety and survival of one’s self or family is in jeopardy, they can hardly be expected to work toward something which does not immediately threaten them. As a person with social, if not financial, privilege, I have chosen to contribute where I can to the non-climate issues I care about, but I actively advocate for climate change solutions. I can do so because I am not in immediate danger, and am therefore free to address the larger danger that inevitably threatens all of us.

      Also, I am working with an organization that I believe bridges some of these gaps… by working to build bipartisan support for climate action (which requires active engagement of folks with diverse backgrounds and opinions), and by coming with a platform of respect and appreciation, we are able to make forward progress while at the same time building common ground. There are some for whom this will not be the most important or critical task right now (indeed I would argue that asking many people to show appreciation right now is disrespectful in its own right), but I am privileged for the opportunity. I think what’s important is that people who ARE in a position of privilege USE it to further causes that are for the greater good if we can.

  • Martha Elizabeth Ture

    My priority is saving the planet. This means climate change is my priority. We are not addressing it with the level of attention that is required. The longer this is so, the faster we get to the tipping point. I fear that we have no pathways to success now.

  • Harry Boyte

    It’s a good political strategy exercise to do, Peter. I’d suggest though that we need to challenge the tendency on the left these days to think in Manichean binaries, and develop a broad, cross partisan citizen politics that is for democracy, reconceptualized as a way of life built through public work (which involves both a strong focus on meaningful work with living wages, the focus of Mike Gecan’s call the other day in the New York Times; and also what can be best called “citizen professionalism,” which involves civic organizing, savvy cross partisan political work in and across institutional environments to strengthen democratic practices and catalyze efforts at community empowerment. Here’s the link to Gecan’s piece

    On civic organizing on a large scale — Charles Wilkinson’s great study Blood Struggle – The Rise of Modern Indian Nations, recounts in detail the movement of the Indian tribes from “termination” legislation in the 1950s to significant strides toward self-determination through the steady shift to multiple cross partisan strategies and institutional power building.

    And Katherine Charron’s Freedom Teacher – The Life of Septima Clark, is a wonderful account of Clark’s forty years as a teacher in segregated South Carolina and the lessons of civic agency and civic organizing she learned, all feeding into the citizenship schools.

    There are similar examples today, like strong civic leadership from Ed Ehlinger the Minnesota COmmissioner of Health who has supported highly sophisticated civic organizing by Jeanne Ayers, a former student of mine who is assistant commissioner of health for Minnesota who understands herself as a “citizen public health professional” and “citizen nurse.” The MN Health efforts have pioneered in cross partisan collaborations, and have addressed structural racism, developed innovative strategies for addressing social determinants of health and health equity through community empowerment, and created the trail blazing report, Advancing Health Equity, with involvement of more than 1000 people in conversations across the state. Here’s a description in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice this year

    Ehlinger is now the president of the President of State and Terratorial Health Officials.

    So we have strong examples of citizen professional and a reemergent focus on “meaningful work” (I would add, from a public work perspective, work with public meaning and visibility) as a different axis than simply protest and resistance or even than repairing civic relations — more, a long march of democracy and civic agency through the institutional fabric!

    • Anna H. (Anima Mundi)

      I agree completely with the Manichean binaries statement.