Written by Phillip Morris
I am thankful for the election of the 45th President of the United States (Trump’s name is also his brand, so it’s better to not use it if you don’t want to inadvertently support him). He is forcing everyone to evaluate what they stand for, and this has led to some honest conversations with people who no longer feel comfortable with their political party. It would be great if everyone across the board took the time to re-examine their core beliefs.
Mine pushed me to register as a Democrat so I could vote for Bernie. If I had to be categorized I’d be in the Bernie or Bust camp.
A bust is definitely what the US is going through at the moment, but I think that’s better than going along with the status quo. I suspect that had Hillary gotten elected voters would have blindly trusted her and allowed voter turnout to return to being shamefully low. Hillary’s political career shows, for better or worse, that she has been willing to follow the will of the masses. She’s gone from describing black men as “super-predators” to working for the first “black” president. She has transitioned from ardently describing marriage as being between one man and one woman to being a favorite of the LGBT community.
My issue with her and most other politicians is that when the public isn’t up in arms about a particular topic they’ll support the policies that favor their donors, even to the detriment of their constituents and what’s right.
I am not a fan of democracy, but I accept that it’s the best method we have for balancing an efficiently functioning government with a relatively high level of freedom for the average person. That being said, the democratic system has consistently failed to protect significant portions of the population since its inception. Genocide, slavery, concentrations camps, racism, sexism, and pretty much everything else democratic politicians point to as issues in other countries have legally taken place in democratic systems. It’s a constant fight to keep anyone one of those injustices from coming back full force. Nothing 45 has done is really new, because nothing he does is his own idea. Hating immigrants, minorities, the LGBT, or anyone different is standard fare for conservatives. What is new, is having someone so dumb in charge that he doesn’t see the point of subtlety. A traditional politician, like Hillary, would know to hide their, true agenda behind policies that at least seem legitimate at first glance. But a traditional politician is not what we got, so everyone that would like to keep this from happening again should give up their ideological shields and start having honest conversations with each other on what they want for society and how best to achieve it.
My issue with the extreme ideologies I’ve seen develop is that most of the population will never be able to buy into their core beliefs, yet the true believers take their political vision as the absolute truth; making everything else not worth entertaining, even in a no-stakes debate. This is not an approach that can stand against the pressures of having to live in a pluralist society. If freedom of speech and freedom of thought are fundamental rights then you must be willing to at least hear out the opposition. This is not to say that every view is equally valid. Falsehoods, propaganda, and over exaggerations only cloud legitimate streams of information, but if working from the same vetted information someone comes to a different conclusion the proper response should be to figure out why that’s the case.
The reasons why 45 is in office include: racism, classism, sexism, frustration with politicians, Russia, and plain ignorance. Still, these are not really answers in themselves, no one is born hateful and bigoted, so again we should ask why. I’ve found that 45 made things simple in a world many found was getting too complicated, too fast. For every problem he was able to give an answer any primary schooler could follow, which usually involved pointing the finger. Simplicity and laying the blame at someone else’s feet are very attractive to people too tired for critical thinking, which is an inevitable state when they’re working 60-hour weeks, between two jobs, and still can’t get ahead. They know it can’t be their fault because they’re working as hard as they can. And it can’t be the system’s fault because that would mean all their efforts up to this point have been wasted. The easier answer to accept is that someone isn’t playing fair, be it Mexico, China, or everyone on welfare that isn’t them.
Despite the results of recent elections, I don’t think the world is going backward. I think people just needed a rude awakening to how things actually work. The biggest revelation being that straight up lying is a totally legal way to run a political campaign; that Cambridge Analytica will still exist after all is said and done will be a testament to this fact. We have gone through this relatively brief period where the truth didn’t matter and I hope we will be better for it. The world hasn’t ended yet, so every election still represents a chance to get things right. What is “right” will always be a subject of debate, but at the very least we should insist that every argument put forward by our potential politicians be based on reasonably objective facts. In such a world traditional conservatives would need to give so much they might as well stay out of the conversation, but the liberals will need to give up some points too.
Society is a construct that we can and should always debate on how to make better, but facts shouldn’t have to compete with pleasant-sounding lies. At the end of the day, I don’t care what someone believes as long as they’ve actually thought things through using facts. When faced with an undeniable truth the “isms” and phobias that drive extreme ideologies will fade away as long as the conversation takes place without patronization. A hero worth looking up to in this regard is the black preacher and activist Wade Watts, who was so steadfast in facing the KKK with humor and love, that the grand duke had to give up his hateful beliefs.
The equivalent of 45 is present in every society, shaming their potential voters won’t keep them from getting elected, honest conversations might.