Help me feel patriotic in the face of four years of Trump
September 16, 2016 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I have largely NOPE’d out of election coverage since the trend lines at 538 started moving the wrong way. I’m looking for media -of any sort- that can help provide some uplift about the country during this time and (potentially) during the next four years. Speeches, books, essays, poetry, music, TV, whatever. These could have a grimness to them, but should not be a pure critique. They should be about the country and its people enduring and recovering. Thanks!
posted by Going To Maine to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
OK, firstly, it's not time to give up yet. However, I strongly sympathize with your not wanting to deal with this. Maybe give yourself a little time and then consider doing something constructive; it will make you feel less guilty later :) If you can't, though, for whatever reason, then I don't think you should feel guilty; we all just do the best we can. If you're doing the best you can (and just keeping self and family together is pretty challenging sometimes), then that's all you can do.

I believe we can't ever really recover unless we treat the several groups people who are really in opposition as rational neighbors - we don't have to pander to them, or give them a pass on terribleness, but the terrible or angry parts don't represent most of them.

3 ways to deal with friends with differing political views

Centrist leadership alone will not bridge the political divide we've built (Boston Globe)

How we frame climate change may help bridge the political divide (about a study from Florida State Universit researchers)
posted by amtho at 11:32 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just understand that, if Trump is elected (and honestly I don't think he will be, 538 still shows a hard road to 270 electoral votes for him, and a 60%+ chance of a Clinton victory), we will fight. It's going to be hard, and it's probably not going to be entirely successful, but there will still be good people in this country who are willing to do the hard work to keep the country running and protest his policies at every turn. Just like we did during the Bush administration.

Also, why "deal with" this when it hasn't happened yet? If Trump wins (and again, that's a big if) we will all have to figure out what happens next and how we will organize the fight I referred to above. But there's really no reason to worry or dwell on it now. We have to take this as it comes. I share your fear that something terrible is about to happen despite the rational math that implies it won't, but there's really no reason to catastrophize at this point. It won't actually accomplish anything.

If you're looking for media inspiration, though, I feel like right now might be a great time to read some histories of anti-Nazi/fascist resistance. A quick google search turned up this history of the French Resistance.
posted by Sara C. at 11:39 AM on September 16, 2016 [13 favorites]

This stage of polling results was fully predicted by political operatives - some of whom you can listen to on the Keepin' It 1600 podcast. These are former high ranking Obama campaign and administration folks who do a fantastic job of entertaining and informing, but also contextualizing recent events and polling.

Jon Favreau (former head Obama speechwriter), in particular, has a really high minded view of what America and the political process should be, while also being able to operate/commentate in the day to day muck.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:50 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I reread Hugh Howey's Wool. I can't begin to explain why without major spoilers, but it was very cathartic.
posted by teremala at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your answers so far! At the risk of thread-sitting, please try to keep actual discussion of the election to a minimum - I mean, there are threads for that, and I’d like to not NOPE out of my own Ask…
posted by Going To Maine at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

More than anything, the one book I wish the "OMG TRUMP IS GOING TO DESTROY THE US" folks would read is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People -- especially the chapter on Being Proactive. Sound unrelated? It's totally related. It's all about Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control, and how to not let outside events get you down. Another good one is Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Similar ideas. Even if you're in a shitty situation, you get to decide how you're going to respond to that situation.

I don't like Trump either, but man oh man there's so much hand-wringing about his possible (not probable) election. If he gets elected, there's a 20% chance he'll be as shitty as many think. There's a 20% chance he'll be as good as some believe. But there's a 60% chance we'll get the same government we've had for the past sixteen years since Bill Clinton left office.
posted by jdroth at 1:11 PM on September 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

I watched the Movie "Wag the Dog" recently & it actually cheered me up about the election. I think the fact that all this BS has gone on & has been going on for so many 100's of years and still the USA & the rest of the world keep plodding forward & making social changes for the better despite it all. Go read a bunch of history books, not the whitewashed ones, the true ones that get down into the nitty gritty (I don't know a lot about US politics to offer suggestions but have read some ones about UK & Australian politics so assume US based ones exist) and realise that this bs has been going on for forever, it's just the 24 hour news cycle that means you know about it now & you can't escape it.

So go read some political history & you'll realize despite all the bs, shitty rulers & terrible policy decisions the US & most other western countries keep slowly making progress, the good guys keep slowly winning & that's what is great about the US & other countries that progress still keeps being made, not easily but it happens, you just can't take it for granted. Like the great philospher Dory said you have to "Keep on Swimming." Stop swimming & the current will carry you. Go out & vote , vote hard & vote often & the US will keep on swimming forward.

Oh & for my unofficial not very educated take on what the hell is happening right now in politics go read about extinction burst in relation to behavior & psychology.
posted by wwax at 1:44 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Washington Posts's "Presidential" podcast has helped me keep in perspective that our nation has been through much, much worse. Assassinations and civil wars and people owning people. In that context, Trump's a blip. Also, listening to Hamilton. The flawed story of our flawed nation told in a new way, owned in a new way, seen through a non-White lens. "It's Quiet Uptown" wrecks me every time, though, so there's a hard limit on how many times I can listen.
posted by rikschell at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really love this audio piece from On the Media: "Looking Backward On The Presidency Of Donald Trump". It's adapted from an article in the Atlantic (linked from the page I link to), but I really recommend listening to it. It's interesting, good, and a little bit of fantasy that keeps me from wanting to crawl under the bed.
posted by Betelgeuse at 2:11 PM on September 16, 2016

I firmly believe the best antidote to despair is DOING something about the thing that is making you feel despair. This is why I've actually made a career as an activist of sorts! Though even doing a few small things can help a lot. Right now, you can make calls even if you don't live in swing state, and if you do, you can start volunteering in an office. (I actually hate making calls alone, so a friend and I are going to host a calling party in her house!)

If - still a really big if! - Trump gets elected, I would say getting involved some way in fighting his policies (such as they are) will be the best way to feel better yourself and connected to a community. I think it was Hannah Arendt who talked about how many Germans went into internal exile during the Nazi years - they just checked out. It seems like a sensible strategy (and if you're dealing with the Gestapo, it probably is), but it increases that sense of isolation and despair.

As for how to feel patriotic: I wasn't raised to be particularly patriotic (my parents were leftists who were horrified when I showed up with an American flag "support the troops" button during the first Gulf War), but I have become very patriotic in my own way. The US is, if nothing else, extremely diverse and complicated. It's easy to look at one group of people and despair, but they are only one part of the story. Our history has been full of oppression, but also the fight against that oppression. When I was in college and in my early 20s, I spent a lot of time reading and learning about the history of those fights, and it personally really helped me to feel a sense of belonging in this country. Some of the books I read during this time that helped were Howard Zinn's memoir, Audre Lorde's memoir, The Sixties by Todd Gitlin, and Taylor Branch's books about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those worked for me because I'm an activist at heart, so connecting with the rich history of activists who have come before me was very helpful. For you it might be something else - music, the history of your region, whatever. But just something that makes you feel connected to the country in a positive way, and hopeful.

I think the other thing that's helping me get through this terrible election is, again, the realization that this country is diverse and complicated, and Trump's supporters don't even come close to being the whole picture. I mean, the biggest cultural phenomenons of the last year have been: 1. a rap musical about the founding fathers with a cast almost entirely made up of people of color, written by the descendent of someone from Puerto Rico and Mexican immigrants, and 2. a musically and politically ambitious album by a black woman who used to be a teen pop star and now performs at the Super Bowl dressed like a member of the Black Panthers and supports Black Lives Matter.

And that brings me to the other thing that makes me feel more OK: Trump's supporters get all the attention because they are horrifying and it's a presidential race, but I really believe that when we look back at 2016, that's not what we will talk about. We'll talk about Black Lives Matter, which has done a staggeringly good job of changing the conversation around race and violence in this country, and started to win policy victories. We'll talk about movements like Native Americans committing direct action to stop fossil fuel projects. We'll talk about how feminists have changed the culture more in the past three years than they had been able to since the 70s.

There is so much good stuff happening in the country right now and getting involved with it or even just giving it lots of attention and support is going to make you much happier than giving into despair.
posted by lunasol at 3:05 PM on September 16, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm not American so it's an outsider's perspective, but if I was trying to tell someone why I thought America was great, or talking about things that somehow make me patriotic/proud of a place I'm not even from, I'd be throwing up Woody's This Land is Your Land, then Wilco and Bragg doing Hesitating Beauty (mostly for the third verse) and maybe California Stars or Christ for President, switch focus to Richman's tribute to the greatest band of all time (hey, they're American and where else could they have sprung from but NYC), which leads you to this song of survival, which (OK, obvious suggestion) gives you surviving family violence and political corruption, and who endured more than Jeff and Cyrus?
posted by Pink Frost at 6:07 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like the History Guys podcast, with their 18th, 19th, and 20th century perspectives which puts even stressful possible situations like a Trump presidency in context for me. Maybe some their episodes about the presidency might help:

The more things change

The history of presidential transition

faith & the presidency

The uses & abuses of executive power
posted by anitanita at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've said this here before, but Lincoln loved this country and its founding ideals. He believed in it fiercely. And Lincoln was a patriot in the face of chattel slavery. He hated slavery, but he believed in the ideals on which the nation was founded (as penned by a slaveholder). As a result of his determination to fight for justice, we got three of our greatest amendments (13-15).

Same goes with Martin Luther King, who was Lincoln's rhetorical heir. King faced brutal oppression under Jim Crow. But he was a patriot who believed in the ideals on which the Republic was founded. And he fought to see those ideals realized. This resulted in the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

Eleanor Roosevelt also saw the effects of Jim Crow and grinding poverty around the country during the Great Depression. Yet she believed in America and loved it deeply. Her love of country is evident all over her writings.

All of these great Americans loved America, in spite of seeing a much more immoral America than that which we see today. Who am I not to love America and fight for its betterment as well?

Anyway, that's the way I think about this in the first person.

I'd read some Lincoln, or MLK. I always walk away from them with a greater love for America and a greater determination to make it greater.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:22 AM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

One more example: Obama. His two biggest influences are Lincoln and MLK. And Obama also is deeply patriotic. And it's not because he's naive. He sees all the problems we see, and more.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:36 AM on September 17, 2016

Mod note: Several comments deleted. Folks, please stick to the actual request. OP is looking for speeches, books, essays, poetry, music, TV, etc. about the country and its people enduring and recovering.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:52 PM on September 17, 2016

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