Opinion | RBG’s legacy is not one of hopelessness — we must now act

The first couple weeks of quarantine were very difficult for me (as they were for many others). President Trump, his cronies, and his cult following (100 million strong!) were happy to pretend the pandemic simply didn’t exist because it wasn’t convenient for them. The government — one of the richest and most powerful in the world! — would not be able to take care of its people like so many other developed nations have been able to, so instead they decided to act like it didn’t exist. People would die, and Trump could blame the Democrats.

And then, I figured at this time, he would be re-elected.

I still think he might be. I also think he might not be, and then he would rile up his base and make some serious calls for some serious violence.

I was hopeless for our future. That hope has since come and go, but news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death felt like a physical blow. I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t even want to be an American anymore.

There is no point in using logic with a Trump supporter. He really, truly could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose an ounce — not a single ounce — of support. He lies so brazenly, so consistently, that after this hypothetical shooting, he would simply say he never shot anyone, and if he did, it was in self-defense, and they were a thug anyway, and do you all remember Benghazi and how Joe Biden is a child sniffer, and then nothing would change. Only the place where we draw the line for basic human decency would move, as we have let it throughout his entire presidency.

There is no point in arguing about hypocrisy. Bob Woodward could have announced Trump knowingly let hundreds of thousands of people die back in the spring, and not a goddamn thing would have changed. Trump’s support has remained constant throughout his tenure. If you hate him, you hate him. If you love him, you love him. If you’re willing to put up with him, you’re willing to put up with him. That’s it.

So what now? Now that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed on, and every single possible nominee on Trump’s shortlist would happily take away women’s rights to our own bodies in the name of saving unborn children — while, mind you, they happily let people die of COVID because they fear a socialism they couldn’t properly define with a gun to their heads — what are we to do?

Act. Stop just talking and act.

How, you ask? Here are some ideas:

  • Donate. It is hard to donate in times of such economic devastation, but anything we can give helps. It’s best to donate strategically. Focus on senate elections in Colorado (Cory Gardner’s seat is iffy), Arizona (Mark Kelly is coming for Martha McSally), and North Carolina (Thom Tillis is having a tough race as well). If Kelly defeats McSally in Arizona, he gets into the Senate in November rather than January. This is a big deal.
  • Volunteer to be a poll worker. The application is wildly easy.
  • Protest. Join a protest. Support protests. Reframing protests as violent riots is proof that they’re working.
  • Vote. Vote. Vote. Make sure you are registered to vote — things change. Make plans and contingency plans and contingency plans for your contingency plans to get to the polls. We are not a healthy democracy at present.
  • Register others to vote. Make sure everyone has the ability to vote.
  • Bombard certain GOP senators with calls and letters and petitions. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney look ready to break rank. Cory Gardner faces a tough race in Colorado, still a mostly blue state. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan) are on the way out and are strict GOP institutionalists. Yes, it’s so annoying to make calls and write letters. But there are plenty of apps that pre-write these things for you. Take advantage!
  • Stop arguing, using logic, or appealing to a supporter’s compassion. Fox News has taught them that just because they only consume the news or believe the reality that is comfortable for them, the rest of us live that way too. Since it is easier for them to believe the pandemic isn’t real, it just isn’t. They assume the world at large views facts the same way they do. Don’t argue with this. A brick wall makes a more interesting debate opponent.
  • Stop compromising. Stop appeasement. I don’t love comparing Trump to Hitler because I don’t like to give that orange buffoon so much power, but the comparison is good for one thing — the Democrats are Neville Chamberlain, and Trump and his brood took Sudetenland forever ago.
  • Practice self-care. If you are not healthy, you can’t help others. For me, this means marathoning Schitt’s Creek and Living Single until I have both shows entirely memorized and reading romance novels about human women being saved by savage humanoid alien warriors who treat their women like the goddesses they are. No, I do not own any cats.
  • Read the news and stay informed — but, for the love of god, try not to go down rabbit holes. It is not good for you. That is the biggest positive habit I have developed during quarantine, and it’s the only way I’ve held on to my sanity. It simply hurts too much.

I spent Friday night and all of Saturday angry, hopeless, and just about refusing to move forward in any productive fashion. But that’s not RBG’s legacy. And if we are to honor her, we can feel our feelings — Lord knows I did — but then we must act.

Please, for the love of God and country — act.

Caitlin Cohen

Caitlin Cohen graduated from Boston University with a degree in History. She has written for DeadState for three and a half years. She technically speaks French. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and has big plans to one day get a dog.