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What Can We Really Do About Trump? And What Is Trump Doing To Us?

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What Can We Really Do About Trump? And What Is Trump Doing To Us?

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump shows off the size of his hands as Fox News Channel moderators Brett Baier (L) and Megyn Kelly (R) look on at the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


Many of us feel like we’re in an unfamiliar and disorienting situation. We’ve never imagined, much less experienced anything remotely like the behavior and attitude of Donald Trump. In this new reality, we live in a state where our leader—the most powerful person in the world—lies consistently, is completely unreliable and cannot be trusted.

Initially, it seemed like Trump’s presidency would be a bad, but short and unfinished joke. He couldn’t possibly last. He would be dispensed with, either by his own self-destruction or his impeachment. But most of us have recognized by now that won’t likely happen. The most conservative Congress in the last 100 years wants to impose draconian changes on our society directly inspired by Ayn Rand. For now it appears that Republicans have decided keeping Trump in place is the best strategy for achieving their goals. What’s more, even if Trump’s presidency ended today, Mike Pence could be even worse, as Al Franken notes.

Trump’s incompetence and GOP infighting have prevented conservatives from wreaking large-scale devastation so far. But that could quickly change.

So what is to be done? We at AlterNet have concluded that a vibrant, effective political opposition requires that we grapple with what is needed, both strategically and emotionally, without illusion. It is important to make use of our anger and constantly push back. But we also need to be realistic about what works and has a decent chance of success. At the same time, we must be aware of the toll Trump may be taking on our psyches and our souls.

To that end, AlterNet is developing multiple new initiatives we hope together will provide a source of needed information for the future. One effort, the Trump Trauma Project, is launching today. More about that in a moment.

Part of the reality we face is that under the radar of many Americans, the most conservative political operators have captured huge swaths of the country for the right wing. Thanks to gerrymandering, wide-scale voter suppression, a conservative Supreme Court, and an attack style of governing that opposes anything remotely Democratic or liberal, conservatives have amassed immense power. It will be very difficult in the near future to slow down the right-wing juggernaut and win back Congress, let alone imagine anything close to the pendulum swinging back to more liberal and humane days.

In fact, that famous mythical political pendulum may not swing back this way at all. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Unfortunately, as Jeremy Sherman notes, “Maybe in the very long run, it’s bending, but the time bomb of human nature may not give us that long. At present, the arc bends toward authoritarianism. Our proud sense that it can’t happen here has been proven wrong. Authoritarianism can happen anywhere people are part of the equation.”

That means we have to adapt to these strange, new circumstances. “The election of Donald Trump has forced the American people to learn new skills,” Chauncey DeVega notes. “They now must grapple with life under a plutocratic authoritarian who has little to no respect for democracy and the rule of law. Such a situation was not supposed to be possible in America; this political dystopia is real.”

It’s true that getting involved, fighting back, organizing and working hard to throw out Trump and the worst of the right wing are essential for our lives and our emotional well-being. But achieving those goals will be difficult, so it’s important to consider our situation in both the short and long term. We have to be hard-nosed about what can be won now, and realistic about what it will take. We also must be cognizant that joining groups and getting organized, while fantastic for some, is not always easy for others, especially those who are introverts or simply unenthusiastic about participating in groups. We all have to find our best way to resist.

Impact on Our Mental Health

There is a lot of evidence that Trump is having a deleterious impact on the mental health of many of us, causing new trauma, exacerbating existing trauma, and for many, simply taking away the joy and optimism that was part of their daily lives.

Therapists report patients experiencing panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and alcohol and drug abuse. Trump has been a human trigger for many women, as well as men, who have suffered sexual abuse. There is enormous fear on the part of immigrants. The racism and xenophobia that drive Trump’s vision and the goals of the GOP have exacerbated fear and unease in communities of color. The tragic killings of African Americans by cops who are rarely punished is a consistent reality. Finally, there is huge anxiety felt by many millions who are justifiably afraid they will not have access to the health care they need, or the resources to age with dignity.

We have experienced political trauma before. When George W. Bush was handed the presidency by the Supreme Court, to many, it felt like a coup. Then there was the disastrous invasion of Iraq based upon false pretenses. But as one therapist explained to me, Trump is different. “Bush made people angry, but most of us didn’t think he was genuinely crazy. It’s hard for many not to worry that Trump is.”

That is part of what triggers trauma and makes life uncomfortably unpredictable. Trump’s attitude echoes difficulties from childhood, chaotic family lives, cruel and arbitrary behaviors, and the aura of violence and contempt with which many are familiar.

We also need to be aware that life under Trump for privileged, educated, middle- and upper-middle-class people is different than it is for the many millions whose lives are a daily struggle. It’s true that pain is pain. People of every class can suffer trauma. But for the most vulnerable, life will only get worse as the Trump administration plows forward, while the top 20 percent will not be materially affected.

Trump Trauma Project

Today is the official launch date of AlterNet’s Trump Trauma Project. The kickoff piece, written by project co-director Kali Holloway, focuses on what Trump trauma is, how it manifests and some of the ways we can start combating it. Going forward, we will be weaving together articles about effective organizing, critical media analysis and the psychological effects of our ongoing political nightmare, as a way of better seeing—and seeing a way out of—the mess we’re in.

Furthermore, we are at work on an ebook, aimed to be ready in October, that will encompass some of the best wisdom and advice about how to maintain our mental health in the time of Trump. The book will collect new works and build upon many articles AlterNet has already published on staying sane, addressing trauma and being effective resisters of Trump. We have established a new vertical: Trump Trauma Project. Check out the articles already produced.

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.


This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.



  1. Dominick Vila July 18, 2017

    What can we do Simple, stop buying. Ours is a consumer oriented economy. It grows, new jobs are created, and companies profit, when consumer confidence and spending are high. Delay buying a house, a car, new appliances, or anything other than essential items and Trump’s bragging about his imaginary business acumen and accomplishments will become hot air. In fact, considering his deregulation and business tax breaks proposals, his policies will result in extensive damage to the environment, rising deficit spending, widespread corruption similar to what was taking place in 2007, and more accumulation of debt.

    1. Jim Samaras July 18, 2017

      Good Lord man! Why would you want to cut off your nose to spite your face? Cripple the economy for all just to show how you can stomp your feet? This article shows a sad state of affairs

      1. Dominick Vila July 18, 2017

        No, this article shows that Trump is claiming accomplishments he has not contributed to.

        1. Jim Samaras July 18, 2017

          Trump is causing a snowflake meltdown is what it says. Time to man up, come together and see if his policies work. Will all of them work? No, but this resistance thing is not good for the republic and in the end is fruitless.

          1. 1standlastword July 18, 2017

            Jim what you say is exactly what the progressive liberals said when Obama was POTUS and back then not you nor anyone of the Trump persuasion would have “cooperation”. The truth is America is in a political distopia and with Trump America will go deeper into political darkness doom and gloom and when your kind finally realize the effect of Trump Trama there will be a Democrat in the WH and this &hit starts over again. I don’t see a way out

          2. Jim Samaras July 18, 2017

            What you say is absolutely true 1st! We did fight Obamas’ socialistic ideology at every turn. Of course we thought we were right just as you and the left feel you’re right today. One problem we have is that the lefts’ ideology permeates the sponge like minds of millennials in our colleges today. The fact that students are all for socialism yet can’t define what it actually is and haven’t been taught it’s evils with examples like Venezuela is reprehensible hence the rise of Bernie Sanders.

            I do believe the solution was born with the election of Trump however as he will not be a puppet of Soros, Rothchilds or any other puppet masters including the corporate lawyers and lobbyists. Now you may disagree with that last statement but I believe it to be true. If he shows any deviation of that I will be the first conservative/independent on here saying you were right all along!

          3. 1standlastword July 18, 2017

            “I do believe the solution was born with the election of Trump ….”
            Jim…if you were an employee, contractor, ex-wife or relative of Donald “The Conman” Trump you’d want to see his policies burned up in an incinerator immediately.

            I’m not for a Russo-American contract. Are you!? Haven’t you read anything about the character of pooting!?

            Stinks to hell….

          4. Jim Samaras July 18, 2017

            I’m not certain that to be true with employees, ex wives or relatives as I’ve never heard anything negative come from their mouths. The ex wives are taken care of like any responsible man would do when a relationship ends. The contractors took a chance and lost due to our bankruptcy laws and as I feel for them their eyes should have been wide open when the agreement was signed.

            Funny how Obama, Clinton or Kerry didn’t think there was anything wrong with getting into bed with Putin but now that Trump thinks he could be an ally under certain circumstances now it’s treasonous huh?

          5. 1standlastword July 19, 2017

            Jim… I respect your opinions you are entitled to them the problem is you don’t sound well read up on Trump and Putin. In fact you don’t seem to understand the underlying nature of the differences and motivations between a Trump Russo-American foreign policy and that of prototypical political contracts which were the aims of those conventional agents you mention by name. I’m afraid you’re still too biased

          6. Jim Samaras July 19, 2017

            Thank you….The only thing I really DO understand is that any Trump Russo-American policy will be in the favor of America and it’s people. I trust Trumps judgement on that! I cannot say the same about the aforementioned characters when The Clinton Foundation is getting donations from Russian backed companies and slick Willie is getting a half million dollars for an hour long speech. Does that really make any sense to you? What could he possibly have to say worth that? There are reasons I’m biased against anybody, both sides, who have been in that political arena too long. How is it these people come into office a common person and 10 years later are multi millionaires? Just listen to Maxine Waters for five minutes and answer that question please

          7. 1standlastword July 19, 2017

            Good points!

          8. Jim Samaras July 18, 2017


      2. TZToronto July 18, 2017

        It’s not a matter of consumers crippling the American economy. Donald Trump will do that without any help from the people. One need only look at the real meaning behind Trump’s statements to realize that Make America Great Again is code for enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor. Nothing he favors will result in a booming American economy since the rest of the world will function nicely without one-sided American trade policies. While the rest of the world cooperates on trade, isolationist America will be left on the sidelines with rising prices and diminished opportunities. . . . And that’s only the economy. When half of Florida is under water, Trump will still be calling climate change a Chinese hoax.

        1. Jim Samaras July 18, 2017

          I don’t know all those codes the left has broken such as the one you mention and racist dog whistles. Many things he favors such as a simplified tax structure, infrastructure program and fair trade to name a few would boost the economy. It’ll take awhile longer with all the obstructionism going on but will get done. America will never be left on the sidelines and the sky will not fall. Climate change is the latest Y2K.

          1. 788eddie July 19, 2017

            GOP tax reform will benefit the already wealthy. Why should everyone support that?

            Taking back tax breaks the very wealthy already enjoy will benefit a whole lot more Americans, and will not hurt the wealthy; they will stay wealthy. The increased revenue can be used to benefit everyone.

          2. Jim Samaras July 19, 2017

            If a flat tax bracket is enacted yes, perhaps it may benefit the very wealthy but they will still be paying 80% of the total revenue taken in. It will also however help those making under 150,000 where 10,000 may make a difference to where they can create jobs by starting a business and hiring people who need jobs getting them off of the dole and becoming productive citizens therefore increasing the revenue you speak of and making them feel better about themselves. Why is it the left always demonizes the wealthy when in fact they produce things that add to the economy.

          3. 788eddie July 19, 2017

            Your response is very misleading, Jim. You make it sound as if the wealthy pay an 80% tax rate, whereas, with today’s tax breaks, many of the very wealthy actually pay far less than the average middle-class taxpayer.

            A flat tax would continue the bias toward those at the upper end. A graduated, progressive tax rate, where the very wealthy pay at a significantly higher rate would be fairest. After all, he system and country that they are in allowed them to gain their wealth, and continues to help shelter and protect their wealth.

            As for the misleading “job-creator” right-wing scam, I am a job creator; I have five guys come to my home every week to handle the landscaping of my property. That’s job creation for you. As is the food that I have delivered to my house. And the mechanics who work on my cars, etc, etc.

            And as for the left deamonizizing the wealthy, they don’t have to; many of the wealthy are already doing a fine job of that by being continually greedy.

            As a former prime minister of England once commented, “It’s only fair that those with the broadest shoulders carry more of the load.

          4. Jim Samaras July 19, 2017

            What I said eddie was that the very wealthy pay 80% of the total tax revenue gathered by the government. While they may pay a smaller rate in percentage due to tax shelters and such the check that is written by the wealthy often is 10 times more than the average worker even makes in a year. A higher “rate” would only take away incentive to invest in factory’s, jobs or services in their field. Why take the risk if a large percentage is taken away in taxes? Why not sit on the money with no risk? I agree the percentages should be made more equal which the Trump plan would try to do.

            We are all job creators when we spend but that’s not “creating” a job eddie that’s patronizing an existing business. Job creation would be for you to invest your money into a dream of your choice that would require you to hire individuals to help you run that business where you’d pay employment tax, FICA, SS and such for each employee therefore creating a bigger pool of tax revenue for both the state and federal government.

            In many instances I’m sure greed drives the wealthy but fear is the other driver in human nature. We need the greed of the wealthy to create what I’ve described above. We don’t want fear to enter the equation though. Fear of government taking more of the profits therefore increasing the risk (of which is always abundant) demotivates investment as I described above.

            “It’s only fair that those with the broadest shoulders carry more of the load.” They do in reality. A guy that makes a million dollars may pay 200,000 in tax where as a guy making 100,000 pays 20,000. Everything is relative eddie

    2. Deborahjisaacson July 18, 2017

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  2. Bill Smith 999935 July 18, 2017

    I felt a lot worse about Obama.

  3. Debra Oliver July 19, 2017

    I highly recommend everyone read David Korten’s book: Change the Story, Change the Future. It will help make clear so many points of confusion. It gives a road map on how we can all move forward together!

  4. 788eddie July 19, 2017

    It’s not just Donald J. Trump; everyone can now very clearly see that conservatives cannot govern!

    They have the majority of both houses in Congress, the executive branch, and a decidedly conservative Supreme Court, and, after more than half a year, have done squat!

    1. InformedVoter July 19, 2017

      Sorry eddie, but you would like to believe that President Trump has done nothing, but the truth is that he’s just about wiped out obozo’s “legacy”. Things lie the travel ban, the saving of factory jobs, the SCOTUS appointment. Yup, the FAKE MSM likes to keep lying to you saying he’s done nothing, but he’s delivered more campaign promises in 7 months than obozo did in 8 years!
      So keep up the “getting nothing accomplished Mr Trump and keep destroying what’s left of the Dem party.

      1. 788eddie July 19, 2017

        Dear (mis)informed,

        Like I said; they’ve done squat!

        Those “saved jobs” you mentioned still went to Mexico. And, yes, McConnell, not Trump, managed to engineer the stealing of a Supreme Court seat from President Obama (once again showing the total lack of honor of the current GOP leadership).

        Still no major legislation. Nada! Zilch!

        So much for The Mango Mussolini’s braggadocio of everything he was going to get done on he first day; in the first month; in the first hundred days, etc.

        Useless, absolutely useless!

        And now everyone sees it!

        1. InformedVoter July 20, 2017

          Poor Eddie, you continue to believe the FAKE MSM lies, just like you believed that HilLIARy was ahead in the polls.

          FYI, President Trump accomplished more in his first 4 months than obozo did in his first 4 months! YUP! It’s true!

          As to manifesting yourself as low information, you’re right up there with AaronOfP, BillP, Eleanore and the admitted racist and bigot dpaano.
          Then there’s Hellpy, who keeps changing his name. His accuracy rate is below 20% – less than one in five posts is accurate! He’s probably your poster child!

          1. 788eddie July 20, 2017

            Poor (mis)informed, get your ass out of the Fox hole. Your false facts make you the laughing stock of online commentary.

            As the late Robin Williams once commented, “Reality; what a concept!”

          2. InformedVoter July 20, 2017

            Poor Eddie, I bet you still believe the pols that HilLIARy will win the election! My accuracy rate is north of 95%. I suspect yours is south of 40%

            You low information lefties hate the truth because it makes you look so ignorant of the facts.

          3. 788eddie July 21, 2017

            Keep posting, (mis)informed.

            You’re a great source of ridicule for everyone else.

          4. InformedVoter July 22, 2017

            So eddie, who do you think HilLIARy will name to replace Justice Scalia?

          5. 788eddie July 23, 2017

            She won’t replace anybody; she did not get elected. . . and Justice Scalia has already been replaced.

            Please try to keep up (mis)informed.

          6. InformedVoter July 23, 2017

            Wow, eddie, don’t tell me you’re finally going to admit and accept that President Trump received a MANDATE from the voters and that the FAKE MSM polls were lying to you! I’m impressed you finally saw the truth!

          7. 788eddie July 24, 2017

            Are you referring to our minority president?

            (Mis)informed, I’d like to have a battle of wits with you, but I see you’re only half prepared.

          8. InformedVoter July 24, 2017

            NOPE, I’m referring to our president who received a MANDATE from the voters. And if the election were to be held today, President Trump would win by a larger margin and even win the popular (legal) vote too.

          9. 788eddie July 25, 2017

            Reality – what a concept!

          10. InformedVoter July 25, 2017

            Poor Eddie, you can’t handle the truth and you certainly can’t handle reality!

  5. Richard Prescott July 19, 2017

    What we are coming to realize is that both Trump and the Russians targeted the weak areas, worked very hard to disseminate a variety of bad information. That FaceBook and social media sites were used royally has brought the misuse of cyberspace into the fore.
    We have seen that the more outrageous a statement is the more likely someone will believe it without checking.
    It did not used to be this way.
    Still, as I type this, there are people who still believe way too many of the lies and fabrications presented last year. They still use them as justification for voting for Trump and the GOP. They just didn’t have the wool pulled over their eyes, that wool was tied off at the neck.
    The GOP was skeptical of Trump being able to win the GOP primary, but as it became more and more apparent he might they saw their opening. Or was it that they were informed of something and saw an opening to gain majority of all? I know that is a loaded question, but considering all the bull that was spread all over it is not out of line with any of that.
    However, despite all the negative presented in the article, I feel that more and more people are waking up to the real deal. The only way we can really know this is happening is the 2018 elections. To that end I hope non-GOP candidates fight back, fight hard and counter all the GOP spread lies.
    Jobs have NOT come back.
    The Paris Accord withdrawal may not happen.
    Repeal and replace the ACA just failed for the fourth time (Congress once, twice now for the Senate, and the repeal now was squashed even before McConnell could call for a vote).
    Our standing in the world has diminished, even worse than when the “Ugly American” was a best seller.
    As these facts sink in, his support, and the support for the GOP diminish.

  6. The lucky one July 23, 2017

    “In this new reality, we live in a state where our leader—the most powerful person in the world—lies consistently, is completely unreliable and cannot be trusted.”

    True, but not really a new reality except by degree. None of our presidents in my lifetime (66) could be trusted.


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