Whoever wins the election, I predict America will remain 1) a deeply flawed country and 2) a thoroughly amazing country. I hope that isn’t a controversial statement, although this duality seems to confuse people during every election cycle.
Or maybe that’s incorrect, and if we elect one of the two choices we’ve been stuck with, the possibility of an imminent spontaneous apocalypse becomes real. I haven’t even heard people threaten to “move to France” if so-an-so gets elected, this time around it’s a metaphorical hop straight to Nazi Germany or Armageddon.
This possibility seems about as likely as Christopher Walken’s character from The Dead Zone thwarting the prospective event using his psychic powers. (Martin Sheen’s character does resemble the president we fear Trump will be), but, hey, I am no Nate Silver.
What’s more alarming to me than the state of our electoral system (which I’ve never felt much attachment to) is what this process has demonstrated about the intellectual and spiritual character of our country. And I’m not talking about the apparently newfound awareness to some people that America is populated by a sizeable segment of ignorant, easily lied-to racist cowards, willing to support a candidate with a well honed marketing scheme and a successful reality TV show.
That, if anything, is important information: it’s helpful to know what you believe in and what you stand against, and it’s worthwhile to know what size and form the “enemy” takes.
Far more annoying is the moral battleground that has been casually created along newly drawn political lines, mostly fought in places like Facebook and Slate. I can’t remember an election that generated the amount of disdain and preemptive outrage cast upon people with different political choices. For my part, I think standing on either side of the political/moral divide would make me part of the problem.
How many thinkpieces do media outlets publish each day detailing Trump’s venom, his lies and fraudulence? What is it actually accomplishing? Apparently if you support Hillary, it’s also quite bad because by some accounts this is a woman so corrupt it might be literally eating away her bones.
If you’re inclined to vote for Stein or Richardson, you are “childish” and not a worthy participant in the political process. If you voted for Nader in 2000, you are responsible for Bush getting elected! (And if that’s your takeaway — rather than realizing that an election can be so easily manipulated when the votes are close that it makes voting a futile gesture to begin with— then you missed the point).
And if I tell you there is zero chance I vote at all this year, I can hear some readers attributing the decline of the middle class to my political apathy.
Have you even talked to a Trump supporter? Do you think being a Trump supporter makes you a bad person?
I’ve talked to Trump supporters, people who live in places where they fear Mexicans. People who fear Isis, fear Isis coming into the US through Mexico. Stone cold morons. Fearful, closed-off idiots. But bad people? I’m not sure. They think Trump is the sort of successful no nonsense businessman this country needs, and trust me neither you nor a thousand more pieces in Slate is going to convince them otherwise.
The public persona of someone who seemed to me comically phony even as a child growing up in NYC in the 80s, best memorialized in the SNL sketch where he plays Three-card Monte with Ivana as part of their divorce negotiations…this is the same guy who millions of people in our country support to be the next President!
Of people I consider actual friends, I can only count one open Trump supporter, and after stating my disagreement about his candidate of choice, I advised him to keep his political opinions to himself for the sake of relations with his business clientele. Yes, the insidiously prejudiced underpinning of his support made me uncomfortable (hey, he’s even a little bit anti-Semitic), but I’d rather maintain a friendship with certain people even when I think have blind-spots in their righteous disposition.
The best person I ever met was a Dutch/German fellow who traveled around the world and found me during his North American leg, traversing the US, Canada and Mexico in a nondescript blue van with a mattress on the floor and a map of the world taped to the wall.
He loved India and told me there was cheap vegetarian food on every corner.
When he was jailed in Mexico for possession of a few herb seeds, he didn’t get stressed but looked at it as a chance to catch up on his reading. He told me about Rainbow Gathering and about all the “young hippie girls looking for free love.” Riding up Amsterdam Ave. and 103rd street, he waved at the cops with a joint tucked in his hand and thus taught me how to hide in plain sight.
He had a military father he didn’t like, and he said he was in the process of writing a several-hundred page manifesto that combined Marxist philosophy with his own political ideas. After that, he said he wanted to get into politics, start somewhere on the ground level and get inside the system. He said that’s the only way to change the system.
That made sense to me, and I’m still looking for that guy.
Or as another wise friend of mine, the reggae artist Judah Eskender Tafari, explained it, “All governments were created by God.”
I don’t think you have to believe in God to enjoy the metaphor.
So maybe Trump is Lucifer, and maybe this is the “end of days” and the West shall perish.
Or maybe this all corresponds more closely to the Rasta belief that “half the story has never been told,” meaning half the answer to life’s mystery can only be found within your own heart, and perhaps the time we spend frantically posting politically outraged links on Facebook could be better spent looking within to untangle the conflict.
Or at least half of the time.