I haven't had a chance to make the rounds of journals and blogs and LJ in more than the most cursory fashion this week, but in the few places I've looked, I've been pleased to see left-leaning friends come out of this election actively looking for ways to get more involved, to be more politically active.
I'll have more to say about all this later, but for now here are a couple of quick suggestions:
One area of concern for leftists and libertarians alike is the potential for further erosion of rights in the US. Regardless of your political beliefs, if Ashcroft worries you, here's the first thing I recommend doing, because it's very quick and easy to do (if you can afford it financially): join the ACLU. You might also consider joining the EFF while you're at it. Both organizations do excellent work.
. . . I feel obliged to mention that the work they do isn't always completely in accordance with liberal beliefs; the ACLU in particular has at times in its history championed freedom of speech in ways that some on the left have found uncomfortable. If you're at all concerned about this, I strongly urge you to visit your local library and request a book by interlibrary loan: Defending My Enemy, by Aryeh Neier. It's the most compelling and inspiring defense of freedom of speech I've ever encountered. In fact, if any of y'all small press folks are looking for a good out-of-print book to reprint, you might be interested in this one.
If you find yourself bewildered about why anyone would vote for Bush, I highly recommend seeking out some intelligent people who did vote for him and listening to what they have to say. I don't mean "glance at their arguments and then yell at the person"; I mean listen. Start with the assumption that the person is not stupid, evil, or insane; try to understand their premises and how those premises might lead them to their conclusions.
. . . Actually, I don't recommend doing this just yet, if you're still outraged and distraught about the election; wait until you're a little further along in the grieving process, until you're in a frame of mind where you can really hear what they have to say. You don't have to agree with them, and you probably won't—but it seems to me that it's a good idea to understand what the arguments are. Note, btw, that Bush voters are no more monolithic than any group; demanding that one of them explain themselves to you so you can understand all of them would be like demanding that someone of a different race from you explain "their people's experience" to you. And a lot of the right-leaning political blogs have been as vitriolic lately as a lot of the left-leaning ones have. But there are people out there who will be happy to discuss things calmly and rationally if you're willing to talk to them calmly and rationally.
- Don't get complacent. It will be easy, in the days and weeks ahead, to let the energy dissipate, or to spend it in railing against society. Take your energy, your anger, your frustration, your concern, and channel it, and keep it going. (But also don't let the anger consume you. Long-term rage can be awfully hard on a person.) Join organizations; educate yourselves; participate in protests; make allies; work for change. Figure out what's most important to you, and then figure out what you can do to help in that area, and then do it. Go forth and Do Good.