From now until at least the midterm elections in November, we’ll be featuring essays from powerful cultural voices alongside one simple thing, chosen by the author, that you can do to take action against the paralyzing apoplexy of the daily news. Maybe it’ll be an organization that deserves your donation; maybe it’ll be an issue that deserves greater awareness. Whatever it is, our aim is to remind you, and ourselves, of the big and small things we can do to work toward justice and change.

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A Falling Tide
by Ben Greenman

I commit to take action in November in part because Donald Trump has consistently been derisive toward institutions entrusted with finding and communicating the truth (the press, but also independent investigators, and the courts, and science) and dismissive of anyone who challenges his limited worldview (African-Americans, but also immigrants, women, and people suffering in foreign countries). Undoing the damage that he has done will take a while, and it’s time we got started.

But that’s not the only reason. It’s not even the main reason. Trump’s most poisonous aspect is the way he’s dragged the national conversation down to his level. His campaign was built on lies, but it was also built on shouting and pointing, insulting and impugning. And that virus has spread. Even his opponents now regularly resort to overheated rhetoric, name-calling, poorly sourced anecdotes that serve to support insupportable conclusions, irresponsible speculation, and personal attacks. It’s understandable that, when faced with Trump’s toxic practices, people would want to respond in kind. But just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide eventually leaves us all high and dry.

And so I’m committing to take action because Trump has to be sent back to where he came from, and sent back by a coalition of reasonable voices, of nuance, of intelligence, of sensitivity, of tact, and of texts. He has spent most of his career as a builder. We need to imitate him in that one respect only, and to build up and away from him. But we need to reach the heights differently. We need the elevation without the escalation.

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Take action today:

Commit to vote in November.

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Ben Greenman is the author or co-author of over a dozen books, including most recently, with Questlove, Creative Quest.