At a small Mennonite church in Harrisburg, Virginia, a pastor was moved to “say something positive” in response to the last election. With the help of others in his church, he produced a simple hand-painted sign to put on the front lawn. “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor,” it said, in English, Spanish and Arabic.

Within days, others started asking for their own sign. A local printer offered to print 1,000 of them at cost. Soon, a website called “Welcome your neighbors” was cobbled together to make the design available, for free, to anyone who wanted to print their own. And the sign began to spread to Pennsylvania, Detroit, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Canada. Now, it is popping up in yards across the country.

This small grassroots action is one of thousands that are appearing in every state, all in response to the angry and divisive language of the last campaign, and the new president. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets, in small towns and large cities. But beyond the glare of the national media, many more are working in their communities and churches, speaking out in town halls, and making good use of their front lawns.

The part of the country that believes America is already great, even if imperfect, is on the move.

While most elections come to a close on the day after the vote, when people return to their everyday lives, the bitterness and shock of this last election hasn’t faded. There wasn’t even the normal honeymoon period, when the winners imagine impossible achievements and the losers talk about bipartisanship through gritted teeth.

Instead, the time since the election has amplified questions about what kind of country we’ve become, and where we’re headed. Non-stop accusations have filled the air, from all sides, oftentimes colliding with each other in flight, like trapped birds in a small house. The country is experiencing a high level of stress.

One group, though, is taking it all in stride. They are the people who tend to see the glass half full, rather than half empty. Who see today’s problems as the beginnings of tomorrow’s solutions. They are the determined optimists, the incessantly hopeful, the infectiously cheery types and the comedians.

It’s no accident that some of the country’s most prominent anti-Trump television comedians, like Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Trevor Noah — all alums of Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” — are enjoying a resurgence. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has now topped the ratings for late night television for seven weeks, largely because of his scathing opening monologues on Trump.

Americans are finding both refuge and inspiration in the national living rooms of comedy.

Some people confuse optimists with impractical people who blind themselves to all the bad things in the world. That’s not generally true. Optimists simply understand that if you focus only on the darkness you never find your way to the light. They also take some comfort in knowing that when the pendulum swings too far in one direction it will inevitably swing back, especially with a little help.

You can usually spot an optimist, by the way, when you overhear an exchange that goes something like this: “Great day, isn’t it?” says the optimist. “Sure, but it’ll probably rain tomorrow,” responds the pessimist.

So, how are most optimists responding to the Trump presidency? Positively, of course. They see Trump as a unifying force that is galvanizing the country into action. A wakeup call for people who may have gotten a little bit too complacent about how hard it is to move a society toward its better self, or forgotten that you need to bring everyone along.

On issue after issue, they see Trump’s agenda moving Americans in the opposite direction to whatever he supports. A majority of Americans now favor the Affordable Care Act, or what Republicans once scornfully dubbed Obamacare. New majorities believe that climate change is a serious, man-made threat. Public support for further expanding the military, banning Muslims and building a wall along our southern border is dropping.

Polling now shows Trump with only 35 percent support among the public, a number not equaled by any incoming president in polling history. More worrisome for the Trump team is a survey released this week that showed a majority of Americans now believe that Trump colluded with the Russians on this election. A similar majority also thinks that if that collusion is proven, Trump should resign. Russia, it seems, may have inadvertently planted a ticking time bomb under this administration.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the Trump mystique as the great negotiator also took a big hit with the recent health care debacle, after he met with or talked to 120 Republicans and actually lost votes. And it won’t get any easier going forward, with deep Republican divisions over deficit spending for tax breaks, military expansion, infrastructure investments and $18 billion dollars of taxpayer money on a wall that can’t be built and won’t work.

So take heart, friends. In less than three months, the Trump administration has dug itself into a deeper hole than even the wildest optimist could have imagined.

Alan Caron, a Waterville native, is the owner of Caron Communications and the author of “Maine’s Next Economy” and “Reinventing Maine Government.” He can be reached at: [email protected]

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