It’s done. Donald Trump is our president now. In the most extreme scenario we’ll have to live with this fact for eight years.

Trump Trump sure is good at some things. Credit: Lennart Gäbel

How should one feel about it? What framework of views and activities should one employ to deal with it? It’s clear that there are different opinions about Trump on both ends of the spectrum. There is no universal formula about how to feel about it. Some people are terrified and some are happy.

I am one of those folks who is “socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” In the past two months, after Trump’s victory, I went back and forth between “I think it’s going to be alright” and “holy shit, we are all doomed!” On the one hand, I believe in our republic. I think it’s a great system for governing hundreds of millions of people (certainly, the best one in the world for that type of task) with a lot of checks in place. If one person can take it down for good in 4-8 years then something is clearly wrong and we should really reevaluate the way we approach government (if we have anyone left to do that). On the other hand, there are a lot of possibilities for short-term damage.

Quantifying Problems

There are four major high-level things (on top of many smaller ones) that worry me the most about Trump and his team:

  • Based on what I’ve read, Trump sees every interaction as a zero-sum game: everyone is an enemy and no good can come out of being diplomatic. It may be true in certain short-term cases. In the long-term, when one is looking to create wealth and prosperity, it doesn’t work. Wealth can’t be created in a zero-sum game. It can only be taken away from the “weaker ones.”
  • Trump never expresses his true intent. He already managed to con his own supporters after being elected. Again, it may be is a great tactic for zero-sum games when being cunning, vague, and misleading pays off but it just doesn’t work for long-term goals. It’s bad for the culture, it’s bad for international relationships, it’s bad for sustainable growth.
  • I don’t think Trump understands or recognizes the struggles that the minorities have to deal with as part of their battle with majority rules. I certainly don’t understand those struggles in a lot of cases but I do my best to recognize them. A socially liberal government is a relatively new human invention that addresses minority rights and aims to protect them from majority rules (when they are damaging). I fear that under Trump our government will make several steps back in being socially liberal.
  • I think that parts of Trump’s team, especially his cabinet picks, are incompetent in the sense that they don’t have the right domain expertise. That could lead to some dangerous policies and decisions. You don’t hire an exterminator to do entomologist’s job.

What Can We Do?

How can we address those potential dangers? I think there are several things that we can all do:

  • Learn and educate. Educate and learn. Learn about how our government works, learn about science, learn about psychology, learn about biases. Then find ways to educate those in the dark. As cliche as it sounds: “be the light you wish to see.”
  • Connect with those who support Trump and those who are scared of him. Try to understand both sides. You don’t have to agree with the opposite side but it will ultimately broaden your perspective.
  • Get involved with your local government: know who your representatives are and don’t hesitate to contact them about the issues that concern you. Keep our republic strong! I myself want to get better at this over the next few months.
  • Focus on long-term goals. Don’t let the problems of today define your vision of the future. Long-term goals are good for humanity and for the soul.

Even after this unexpected turn of events I remain positive about the future of our country and Earth. We’ve come victorious in way more disastrous situations in the past—just open any history book to a random page. Keep working hard, be kind and respectful, apply pressure on our government, and don’t lose hope. We’ll come out victorious yet again.