At This Point There Is No Point
I recall an argument I had with a family member leading up to the 2016 election. They claimed Donald Trump cared more about military veterans than Hillary Clinton.
I responded with Trump’s infamous dig on John McCain: “I like people who weren’t captured.” How do you reconcile a statement like that with showing any kind of support for people in combat roles? He’s clearly stating that he thinks less of POW’s.
They responded, “Hillary said the same thing.”
This was news to me. “When? What did she say exactly?”
“Well, she didn’t actually say it, but still…”
It’s that “but still” that powers Trump’s base as the limitless excuse machine that drags 2017 in a death spiral toward cultural rock bottom. The equivocation of two narratives, one tangible & factual, and the other constructed from whatever opinion his supporters have decided to process as patriotic truth inside their own heads.
This thought process was articulated best in 2012 when Clint Eastwood took the stage at the Republican National Convention to berate an empty chair in which sat an imaginary Obama. Obama wasn’t actually there. He couldn’t actually respond. “The Man With No Name” was talking to air. But still, kick his ass, Clint!
In this new post-truth era, Obama is a socialist Kenyan. Hillary hates veterans. Protesters are paid by George Soros. In empty chairs sit imaginary monsters who say things and do things with no basis in reality other than to serve as a stop-gap solution to coming to terms with the biggest cultural & political crisis of our age.
Every time I attempt to engage in a rational, thoughtful debate regarding Donald Trump’s behavior I seem to hit this same wall. Whatever he’s doing is okay because at some point a Democrat probably did something just as bad. This is followed by a citation of some event or incident in which Obama or Hillary or whoever may have signed some piece of legislation or made some off-the-cuff remark that is assigned with nefarious intent and then exaggerated to the magnitude of Trump behavior.
Remember Obamacare? Obama didn’t push healthcare reform to help provide medical services to more people, he did it to attack our freedom because he hates white Christian conservatives. Did he say that? Did he express that? Is there a tweet you can find and provide a link to? Of course not. He didn’t actually say that, but still…
Once you’ve established such a premise as factual, Trump can attack individual citizens on Twitter or push policies he’s clearly articulated are intended to negatively impact groups of Americans and while it may be concerning to everyone paying attention, but still… Obama did the same exact thing!
Maybe this is what we deserve. A kind of cancer on truth and reality that grew from the indifference and rationalization of massive moral failures like Iraq and Sandy Hook. Or maybe it’s a byproduct of a baby boomer generation who (like the “snowflakes” they’ve christened) have always been pandered to, patted on the head and told they’re always right now faced with a crisis of relevance.
Truth is now optional. Until that changes, right and wrong will be perpetually zero-sum.