Friday, August 05, 2016

Political Monsters

Donald Trump is awful, just awful.

He “speaks his mind” and gives voice to the repressed hate and fear too many of us contain.

He uses disdain for political correctness as an excuse for a lack of empathy and straight up cruelty.

Name-calling, ridicule, saying what suits his purpose rather than what may be true: his ultimate interest is not in the welfare of our nation but for his own ego. He lashes out to satisfy this ego without concern for the collateral damage (and I don’t give a shit what you think his “true” motives are).

He’s on us.

He is a product of a political system that we the people have allowed to become entertainment.

He is what we asked for, what we demanded. We stitched him together out of the putrid remains of our ideals. He is our Frankenstein’s monster.

We talk endlessly of the failures of our politicians but very rarely of our own.

They pander and we consume. Our political system is rife with a cynicism that produces politicians who say what they must in order to placate – and we punish them if they don’t. The misrepresentations that garnered public support for the Iraq war are exactly a result of this. The Neo-cons who envisioned that war saw it as the path to establishing democracy in the Middle-East, growing our own Western-style government in the region and ensuring a long-term ally for ourselves… But of course they knew that the American people couldn’t digest such a nuanced argument. Our anti-intellectual culture has made a real public discourse impossible. So the war was never vetted on its actual goals and the American people followed where the sound bites led – and we’re still following.

Trump should have been dismissed even before he called John McCain a Loser. The Republican establishment enabled him out of fear. No principled ideology gave them the courage to stand up and resist. Instead they busied themselves with turning Hillary Clinton into a super villain (rather than the very real human that she is). The possibility of a debate based on policies and leadership is well beyond of reach. (The Democrats are little better by the way.)

Whatever happens with this election – we the people need to take a hard look at our duty as citizens and the principles we say we believe in. They can’t just be sound bites and we can’t just be passive viewers of the reality show that is politics. At the minimum we must take up the burden of critical thinking and through our votes demand that our leaders do likewise. We must turn our attentions to the ideas of the candidate as opposed to the entertainment value they possess (and whether or not we like them). We must be more critical, yet more forgiving. We must elect people rather than personalities. The alternative is an ever more surreal future populated by an increasing number of demagogues the likes of Trump.

Patriotism means that we are willing to do the work of being a citizen.

Trump and his ilk will not go away just because they lose. We the people are the only ones who can change the future course of our nation.