Well, as someone who has flip flopped across the aisle over the past 18 months multiple times, it’s with cautious optimism that I write this today. I will admit, yesterday I was pro-Hillary. It was climate change that pushed me back towards her, as I am fearful that Trump will push us past the tipping point.
But, to be frank, I never trusted that Hillary would do what she said. Admittedly, I have found Trump’s stance on issues like abortion and the environment abhorrent. I am not a Neanderthal. I do not believe everything I read and I think people would consider me relatively open-minded and informed when it comes to public, hot-button topics.
But, havind said that, to me, Hillary represented in many ways the worst of our current socio-economic-political climate: empty promises, deceitful manipulation of public opinion, and a continuation of the quasi-secretive pact between the corporate and political elite. Michale Moore (yes, I am citing him), summed it up best when he said the following (thanks for the share Maria):
Let’s face it: Our biggest problem here isn’t Trump — it’s Hillary. She is hugely unpopular — nearly 70% of all voters think she is untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected. That’s why she fights against gays getting married one moment, and the next she’s officiating a gay marriage. Young women are among her biggest detractors, which has to hurt considering it’s the sacrifices and the battles that Hillary and other women of her generation endured so that this younger generation would never have to be told by the Barbara Bushes of the world that they should just shut up and go bake some cookies. But the kids don’t like her, and not a day goes by that a millennial doesn’t tell me they aren’t voting for her. No Democrat, and certainly no independent, is waking up on November 8th excited to run out and vote for Hillary the way they did the day Obama became president or when Bernie was on the primary ballot. The enthusiasm just isn’t there. And because this election is going to come down to just one thing — who drags the most people out of the house and gets them to the polls — Trump right now is in the catbird seat.
For my money, this post best captures my personal sentiment regarding who Hillary is and what she represents, for better or worse. I can’t say I’m particularly happy that Trump won, but, at the same time, I’m not particularly sad Hillary lost either. Does that make me reprehensible, uninformed, ignorant? Only time will tell.
I wrote two posts a few weeks ago (here’s a link to the beefier one) that outlined how I felt about the election situation, about what I saw as the challenges and opportunities each candidate faced, and what I viewed as the larger problems our society faced collectively beyond this single election. Not many people engaged with it, likely because of how facebook determines who sees what, but also because it was a controversial stance, to be ‘pro-Trump’ publicly.
But, I was grateful I took the time to write the post because one person took the time to engage with me. Of all people, Petros Kusmu wrote me and we ended up having a great conversation about the issue. Now, Petros is someone I look up to, respect, and admire. He has obtained levels of success, recognition and accomplishment that I can only aspire to. And he held a viewpoint counter to mine, one that I had held just weeks before. I respected him for his views, but also for the way he engaged me. He was polite, respectful, he asked me questions, and got to the bottom of how I was feeling in a way that I wasn’t yet able to. Again, I’m a liberal progressive who was waving the Bernie standard as loudly and proudly as anyone. And Petros, both unsurprisingly and to his credit, was able to listen and summarize my rambling, oftentimes contradictory opinions on the matter and pull it all into one word: change.
I think we all want change. Since 9/11, the North American political climate has been heated, to put it lightly. Things got worse, then they got a little better, and now things seem to be worse again. This isn’t something I blame Obama for, he didn’t have the support of the Senate. His track record as a politican will forever be qualified in my eyes by the fact that #1) he inherited a mess, and #2) everything he tried to do seemed to get stymied and roadblocked by a Republican senate. Admitteldy, I’m largely uninformed on on the specifics of these matters, but that is what appeared to happen, and to my knowledge, it’s something that’s done often in politics.
Now, for my money, Donald has the potential to be an agent of change, a reformer. He has the Senate and The House and thus should be able to shift policy in a way that Barry was denied through his two terms in office. He is the opposite of a career politician, and in many ways, to me, is the spiritual successor to Bernie in more ways than meets the eye. And what did Bernie represent? Change.
So it was this spontaneous discourse with someone more informed than I that brought some faith into my mind, that people with differing opinions can find a way to meet in the middle, to listen, to be receptive of each others’ message. It was Petros’ willingness to reach out, to listen, to share, that rekindled my passion for public discussion and debate. And it’s this faith and passion that today gives me reason to feel optimistic for our collective future. It’s my hope that Trump, yes Trump, can embody and personify the human qualities that allow opponents to become teammates, that allow antagonists to hash out their differences and work towards the common good, and to allow the country of America to begin the process of internal reconciliation.
Now, I understand full and well that this is an outside chance. Trump is arguably the most divisive and brash, the most misogynistic and abrasive president-elect that we’ve ever known. Why I have any faith at all is a testament to the human spirit itself.
But the human spirit persists, it’s the defining characteristic of our very nature: hope and faith in the face of overwhelming adversity. We have always forged ahead, grim-faced and valiant, fighting and scratching out our collective existence over the hundreds of thousands of years that have brought our species to where we are in the here and now. And it’s with this same hope and faith that I find myself looking out the window today. Yes, I am terrified that Trump will back out of the Paris Agreement, adopt a pro-life stance, turn back legislation of the last eight years, build a Wall, and continue to make a mockery of himself. Yes, I too think it incredibly unusual to make remarks about your daughter being date-worthy. I get it!
But, I have a secret belief that some of what he has said, like all politicians do, is said for the benefit of their constituents, to gain votes and ultimately office; ironically akin to the way a politician needs to have a “public position” and a “private position” on contentious matters as Hillary herself has publicly acknowledged. I’m hopeful that, as an outsider, as someone who holds no allegiance to the U.S. political system (if you’re in the know, you know that he’s been donating to the Democrat party for years), that he can get in there and be an agent of change, shake up the snow globe so to speak. That he can reboot the North American economy, that he holds true to his anti-war agenda, and that he can bring about electoral reform. At this moment, I’m hopeful.
I think right now, we’re all hopeful this is the case; that the resulting world we find ourself in one, two, four years from now is not worse than the one we reside currently. Because times are hard. Between racial tensions and policing in the U.S., continued economic uncertainty, record temperatures for the past 14 years, and the growing unrest in the Middle East, there aren’t too many people I know who can look at the status-quo and honestly say “all things considered, we aren’t doing too bad right now”.
So let us continue on. Let us embody the faith and open-mindedness that I and many others are hoping Mr. Trump will find and display while in office. Let us put pressure on our politicians to hold true to their promises (I know of at least one major campaign promise Justin has yet to fulfill since obtaining office). Let us continue to engage the opposite side of the aisle, to challenge ourselves on an individual and collective basis to do more and waste less, to work together and not against each other, to listen and consider another’s perspective. Let us combine our collective voice and will to convince Trump that some of the most egregious, controversial issues he campaigned behind, whether it be abortion or environmentalism, are missteps that must be avoided for the larger public good. Let us hope that with a majority in the Senate and Congress, that positive change is not just possible, but plausible.
Let’s… let’s.. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Let’s Make America Great Again!