It can be disorienting to come face to face with authoritarianism, especially in a nation founded to resist tyranny. Our natural impulses to claim that things are normal, that everything is fine, come into play. Nobody wants to admit that our leaders are neofascists bent on destroying all that makes America great.
And yet, this is what we find in the early days of the Trump administration. Lying as state policy is one tool in the authoritarian's quiver, demonizing all followers of entire religions is another. The reason Steve Bannon refers to members of the media as the "opposition party" is because he wishes to advance his ideas using brute force since this is his only tool of persuasion. He can't win on the merits or with facts, so he deploys Trump as a useful idiot instead.
This state of affairs will never end. Trump will not suddenly become presidential. His administration aims to divide and harm, leaving the country at the end as a pale husk of its former self. The only appropriate response is resistance -- today, tomorrow, and as long as Trump remains in office.
Here are three strategies for defeating the hatred and fear and deceit that now emanate from the White House.
1. Remember that there is good in the world. This may seem counterintuitive to put at the top of the list, given the great moral stakes posed by the Trump administration. It feels like there is no time for such flim-flam. But giving in to that impulse, that everything is dark and sinister and deadly, allows Trump and his acolytes to control the narrative. Take some time, each and every day, to breathe deeply and remember just how beautiful the world is. If you can authentically draw upon faith traditions in this pursuit, do so. The point is to remember the goodness surrounding us, as a way to replenish your spiritual reserves. In addition to improving your mental health doing so will lead to more effective resistance.
2. Separate the wheat from the chaff. With a president who thinks in 140 character sound bites, there will always be lots of drivel always spewing forth. Only a subset of that will lead to action. Don't be baited. Look for the actual policy changes, and study those announcements to separate the bluster from the reality. Then decide where to focus...
3. Know you can't do everything. Divide and conquer. Pick one or two issues to focus on, and trust the passion of others to keep the pressure up regarding other outrages. Right now I am supporting a filibuster of any Supreme Court nominee Trump selects, not because of the merits of any given nominee but because this is a stolen seat. Meanwhile I am watching to see what comes of the voting procedures "commission" that Trump has proclaimed -- knowing that anything coming out of the White House on this front will be a sham, the stuff of third world countries and kangaroo courts. If that commission is empaneled I will watch it closely, and align with groups seeking to protect democracy for all. On those days I will really need to follow my own advice in # 1 above.