We know that America is already great because America is good.
But it seems likely that we’ll need a lot of reminders in the coming years.
No matter how strong our anger at the wildly unqualified person who will be leading the country now, we have to ensure that we have something to prevent us from losing our minds by 2020.
So welcome to a new column, America is Good, where I give you some things to hold onto.
In this edition, I try desperately to find something good about November 2016 as we approach its end.
1. It goes without saying that I am starting with Joe Biden memes.
The Biden-Obama relationship is one for the ages, and I think Joe Biden will go down as one of the most supportive, adorable, and meme-able veeps in history.
Sometimes, they don’t even need made-up captions to be great.
— President Obama (@POTUS) November 20, 2016
Trump/Pence just can’t compete.
2. Trump hates the musical Hamilton, so you should love it.
No matter what the President-elect says, I think a positive story about an immigrant who succeeded in transforming our country’s narrative is important.
While Alexander Hamilton was not a perfect man, and while he definitely wasn’t the same kind of disenfranchised immigrant we focus on today, his ascension into American history is important. Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rest of the Hamilton cast are amazing people, and they will help ground you when things get tough.
— Hamilton (@HamiltonMusical) November 19, 2016
Listen to the musical here, and keep your eyes peeled for updates to Miranda’s mix-tape—especially the song, Immigrants (We Get the Job Done), which features Riz MC, K’NAAN, Snow Tha Product, and Residente.
Today and for the next four years, we have to look to certain role models in our community and realize that they’re amazing, but we can always do even better. Think: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Keith Ellison, Tammy Duckworth, Michelle Obama.
There are people in America who still understand what public service means and we should have faith in them—but never stop pushing them to do even more.
4. Keep all the comedians on your Facebook timeline.
I’m not one of those people who thinks the jokes will write themselves now that Trump’s been elected, but I do believe, as Stephen Colbert does, that “You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”
So hold comedians like Seth Myers, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and, of course, Samantha Bee close during the coming weeks. There will be a real temptation to cynicism in this bullshit, dumpster fire of a year, and comedy might just be the best antidote we have. Let it help you to face reality and laugh in its face—but never normalize it.
5. Read your favorite novels over again.
When everything feels wrong, it can be good to find comfort in the familiar words and rediscover why you fell in love with them. Remind yourself that beauty still exists.
I have been rereading Harry Potter to really get my fix of “good trumps evil” messages. (You can always read some great HP fanfiction, too.) Think of your favorite good guy and go hang out with him—or her—for a while.
You should also read something sad. Sad books or poetry can be cathartic, allowing you to let out your emotions instead of bottling them up or taking out your anger on friends or family. I recently reread A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which is one of the most depressing novels of the last two years—and probably ever.
We wanted our candidate to win, we wanted love to win, we wanted an inclusive vision of America to triumph. And it’s okay to feel the pain of that loss. It’s a necessary first step of turning our grief into action.
As we move through the stages of grief, we have to remember to find something to smile about for ten minutes each day. Whether it’s your family, your friends, Joe Biden memes, your love of musical theater, Saturday Night Live, or Sherlock—or all of the above—find something that lets you fall in love with humanity again.
When your grief passes, it will help you be ready to fight against those who wish to corrupt us with hate or fear.
Varsha is a historian with a day job. Her typical night includes binge-watching classic TV shows and romantic comedies, talking about that article you don’t plan on reading but really should on the balcony with her roommates, or rereading her favorite books for the umpteenth time. She suffers through the Bay Area public transportation system because she knows there’s a glass of Lagavulin waiting for her at home.