As the dust settles on Donald Trump’s ascendancy, the country is taking stock of what most would consider a dramatic 2016 U.S. presidential election. Or, as John Oliver referred to it as on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, “I thought I wanted it to be over, but now that it’s over I wish it was still going because it turns out the ending is even worse twenty-fucking-sixteen.” Trump will deliver the next State of the Union address, and it is critical for viewers to remember that this is not the status quo.
“It is gonna be too easy for things to start feeling normal, especially if you are not somebody who is directly impacted by his actions,” Oliver said. “Keep reminding yourself, ‘This is not normal.’ Write it on a post-it note, and stick it on the refrigerator. Hire a skywriter once a month. Tattoo it on your ass.”
Oliver laid out how best to cope with the coming four years. Beyond election campaigning, citizens can donate to groups supporting those under threat from a Trump presidency. Readers worried about the president-elect’s desire to overturn Roe v. Wade can donate to Planned Parenthood, for example, while readers concerned about Trump’s numerous anti-Latino comments, in particular where he said that a judge’s Mexican heritage presented a conflict of interest, can donate to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Oliver reminded viewers that they can donate to these groups in the name of Trump-supporting relatives.
“We’re going to have to actively stand up for one another, and it can’t be just sounding off on the internet, or sharing think pieces or videos like this one that echo around your bubble,” Oliver said. “I’m talking about actual sacrifice to support people who are now under threat.”
Although many factors led to Trump’s ride, Oliver examined the role the media played in its scrutiny of the campaign. Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, said afterwards that “we probably did put on too many of his campaign rallies in those early months unedited.”
“It turns out hindsight, much like the year we’re all now desperately looking forward to, is 2020,” Oliver said. Regardless, Oliver urged viewers to support the free press, in particular because Trump has expressed interest in opening up non-existent libel laws.
Trump’s presidency is a great unknown at this point, due to numerous contradictory statements both before and after the election, but Oliver told viewers that it’s important to not accept anything about the next four years as business as usual. “Either we just elected a president who didn’t mean a single word he said, or we elected one who did, and it’s impossible to know which one,” Oliver said.
Last Week Tonight airs Sundays on HBO.