What Goes Up Must Come Down:
An Advocate’s Guide to Surviving the Trump Presidency
My dad identifies as an independent voter. He is educated, politically well-informed, and formulates measured and comprehensive opinions. I grew up believing that everything he said was fact — I still believe that most of what comes out of his encyclopedia of a brain is — I mean, the man owns three pairs of reading glasses. But, when Trump was elected, he absolutely — ABSOLUTELY — refused to accept that it was a reality. Since Trump’s campaign became more tangible, he has officially replaced president Trump’s name with “he who shall not be named”.
This post is not meant to be a platform on which I share my political views, but I feel like to provide context, it is important for the reader to know that I did not vote for Trump, nor would I now in hindsight. I do not approve of the sexist, racially charged, and frankly unpresidential things he has and, unfortunately, continues to tweet about and justify. But in coming to Berkeley, of all places, and enrolling myself in a curriculum about countercultures and opposition, I have become more aware of the other side, of its goals and policies, and of the fact that the political significance of the platform has not decreased as a result of the chaos. It became harder for me to tell if my dad’s Trump allergy was due to his ripening age and grumpiness, or if he had
Each “side”, liberal and conservative, unabashedly insists that it is correct and should be abided by. They are blinded by their opposition and have forgotten the methodology and rationale behind their opposition. Each side has developed an obsession with persuading or discrediting the values of the other side as if the goal is total agreement. Lately, we have failed to recognize that total agreement does not equate to utopia, or if it does, utopia simply does not exist. We have forgotten that the goal to optimize gratification would create an, albeit agreeable, extremely static society. We would cease to be individuals. We would cease to have unique thought. We would cease intellectual, and emotional progression and advancement. Instead of peace and harmony, it would offer indifference and monotony.
The same phenomenon emerged in the sixties. When oppositional and alternative beat cultures emerged, it set fire to conservative views and threw people like President Reagan into a frenzy. The “sixties”, in reference to the era and not the decade, came to a close at different times for different cohorts and advocacy groups, but the close was an effect of the same cause: compromise and resolution. Countercultures were never meant to last the test of time because for each political, social, and economic ideology, there will always be an equal and opposing view.
Countercultures and opposition, despite the connotation of its name, bring unity to a society because they demand that we introduce ourselves to a model of intellectual expansion and greater understanding rather than optimization of comfort. Opposition proves that we have individual messages and something important to say and the fact that countercultures continue to emerge proves that opposition should not be ignored. Instead of silencing each other when we cannot agree, we should be interested in the origin of disagreement. This is a kind of idealistic growth-mindset that of course many, perhaps the majority, will not adopt because if the Trump election has taught us anything, listening is much harder than talking. However, the mere presence of an oppositional, or even alternative culture is absolutely essential to the propagation of an advancing society.
“ONE OF THE EXPEDIENTS OF PARTY TO ACQUIRE INFLUENCE…IS TO MISREPRESENT THE OPINIONS AND AIMS OF OTHER[S].” -George Washington
The political climate at any point in time can be related to a pendulum. The left and right trajectories correlate to their respective political parties, and the middle represents a well-balanced society. The partisan political climate that subsumes the Trump presidency represents a dual pendulum system of which each pendulum is at the height of two opposite swing trajectories. I have faith that the system will correct itself before long and that the strong oppositional cultures are not dissimilar to those that were present in the sixties. Like they did in the sixties, the two sides will soon listen to each other and meet in the middle.
My dad among many others will imminently face this reality, but in the meantime, they must continue their opposition. Anger or giving up are not solutions to this miscommunication, but compromise, and open-minds are.