When Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower in New York City on June 16th, 2015 to announce his candidacy for president, he began what he would call a “movement.” He shared his vision for the country, which he epitomized with the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Yes, we’ve all seen the hats.
Originally coined by 1980 presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, the slogan is a vague and catchy motto that took America by storm in the 2016 presidential election. Though Trump never truly explained what he would do to make America great, he rode his rallying cry all the way into the Oval Office.
In lieu of real answers, I turned to the one man who seems to understand American politics better than anyone. Enter: Jon Stewart. Oh, how we miss you.
A few weeks ago, Stewart crashed The Late Show (again), putting on a skit with his close friend, and another idol of mine, Stephen Colbert. Stewart revealed that he had possession of Trump’s never-before-seen Executive Orders, and he shared them in his customarily silly and melodramatic style.
Also in typical Stewart fashion, he took what began as a string of mockery, and ended with a powerful and thoughtful commentary on the state of our nation, while facetiously speaking on behalf of Trump himself.
“We have never faced this before: purposeful, vindictive chaos,” said Stewart. “But perhaps therein lies the saving grace of my, Donald J. Trump’s, presidency. No one action will be adequate. All actions will be necessary. And if we do not allow Donald Trump to exhaust our fight, and somehow come through this presidency calamity-less and constitutionally, partially in-tact, then I, Donald J. Trump, will have demonstrated the greatness of America, just not the way I thought I was gonna.”
Amen to that. Mr. Stewart, you are absolutely right.
Take a look at the past three weeks. Yes, they have been exhausting. Terrifying at times. But we have so many reasons to be hopeful. We have seen marches and rallies of historic proportions. Immediately after the travel ban was announced, countless protesters flooded airports across the country to voice their support for those affected by Trump’s awful decree. After only three weeks in office, President Trump has revitalized the American spirit.
And it’s not just rallies. While the White House declares war on the press, the American public has strengthened its support for newspapers and news organizations of every digital medium. With the help of the #PressOn hashtag on social media, newspaper subscriptions have skyrocketed. The New York Times gained 41,000 subscribers alone in the week following the election. Now more than ever, with lies and alternative facts polluting our national discourse, Americans are supporting the essential work of journalists and reporters. Without journalism, there is no America.
The action and passion of the American people is amazing. But as Stewart said, “The presidency is supposed to age the president, not the public.” Given that we are only three weeks into the Trump administration, how can we keep this up? Four years is a long time…
Most importantly, we must never give up or grow complacent. Trump and his cronies are well-aware that the public is tired. It is intentional. By bombarding the country with Executive Orders, policy promises, and a never-ending string of quasi-legal and frustrating statements and actions, the administration wants us to give up. They want us to get lost in all the headlines and punditry, and lose stamina and hope. It is imperative that we do not let that happen.
Another way to remain vigilant is to prioritize. We cannot all solve every problem. I applaud the fight our country has shown thus far, but if we want to keep this up, we need to strategize. Start by choosing one issue that is important to you. Whether it is criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, health care, or anything else, pick an issue and devote time to it. Donate to organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union or the International Refugee Assistance Project. Whether you give your time, your voice, or your money, it is exceptionally crucial that we all take part in this fight, in whatever ways we can.
Additionally, if you do not already subscribe to a news service, consider doing so. Support your local newspaper. Sign up for an online subscription to the Times, Boston Globe, or the Washington Post. If you do not have time to read the news, listen to a political podcast, like Pod Save America. By whatever method you prefer, stay informed. Support real journalism. We need it. Badly.
We may have a while to go with President Donald Trump. It has not yet even been a month. But in just three weeks, I have seen more activism, love, and passion from my fellow Americans than ever before in my lifetime. It is inspiring, uplifting, and most of all, necessary. If we continue to protest, speak out, donate, and participate in civil society and local government, we WILL make America even more great than it already is.
Just perhaps not the way Mr. Trump envisioned. And doesn’t that make it even sweeter?