By NASWCA Executive Director Janlee Wong
Almost two-and-one-half months into the Trump administration, we still are blitzed every day with some form of Trump or Trump-related news, most of which is antithetical to what social workers believe. Most of this 24/7 blitz still seems to be generated through Tweets or the sudden decisions of a chief executive who really doesn’t know how to govern.
For many, this is demoralizing and exhausting. It has caused many to dread each day expecting something worse than the day before. While for some, particularly the millions of white males who voted for the President, the constant stream of diatribe continues their disaffection with their situation in life and society. Only now, they can’t blame former President Obama (although they still do).
How can we survive the next 1,386 days?
Let’s cut that number by almost 60 percent to about 580 days or November 6, 2018, the date of the next congressional elections. You can make a concerted effort to contribute to or work on key swing congressional elections throughout the country. Whether you drive to the Central Valley or the Inland Empire, Nevada or Colorado, Utah or Arizona, you can find an election to work on. Don’t have time? You can contribute $25 to $2,500 online. Either way, you’re helping by fighting back and changing the power balance that the GOP-led Congress has. NASW, PACE or other groups’ political action efforts can help guide you.
Worried about your clients, the community or our country? Remember how resilient our clients and communities are. For immigrants and refugees, their journey here alone tells you they know how to survive and triumph. As professional social workers, we can aid and abet that process by doing what we do best. We can be resourceful, creative, supportive and caring. We can organize and mobilize. Nothing can erase the long journey of social change from the 19th century with little or no social or health programs to today.
Worried about your job and your future? While many social workers seek out and find long careers in the same job, most have several social work jobs in their lifetime. If the current administration is successful in cutting social and health programs, it also intends to increase military and defense spending. That increase will create social work jobs to help with our active duty and retired service members. The huge need for veterans’ and elderly care will only continue to increase. And unanticipated crises such as the opioid epidemic will create new opportunities for social workers.
Turn it off. Take a break. Practice self-care. Because social workers are trained to see a society-wide picture, to identify and treat multiple problems and to connect policy to practice and vice versa, we are susceptible to overload and burnout if too many issues come up, especially every day. If you must see the news every day, look for the wins or possible wins too. Many things that the current administration is trying are and will get reversed in some form or fashion.
NASW is your professional organization and with your support will help you survive this dystopian era. We have developed and issued alerts, policy positions and statements and organized on the state and federal level. We continue to provide ethical support and consultation when we’re asked to do unethical things. We are active legislatively and politically. Tell us your concerns and we’ll work together to survive and continue toward a fair and just society.