Every time I see Donald Trump on TV or in photos, I throw up a little in my mouth. To me he is a caricature, an unfunny cartoon. How can anyone take seriously a man who looks (and talks) like that?
And yet, millions of people do. “He speaks his mind” is commonly identified as part of his appeal. Seriously? The way I hear him, he does nothing but spout unfiltered (and largely incoherent) BS because that’s what he thinks his audience du jour wants to hear. He is a joke. And yet he is a freakish happenstance away from being my country’s president, the so-called “leader of the Free World”. How can right-thinking people (who I’d like to think are in the majority, although I am often sadly disappointed at how horrible and ignorant many Americans are) allow this to happen?
I know I’ve written about Trump before [“OK Politics”, 6/30/15; “A Broken System”, 12/30/15], as much as it pains me to give him even a minute of my precious time, but how could I not? He’s everywhere, force-fed to us by an incredulous media that continues to promote the Frankenstein monster they’ve essentially created, giving him free promotion and publicity while he continually denigrates the media for being liars (pot calling the kettle black?). How can we possibly put up with five more months of this?
Clearly, the populace is disgruntled, to say the least, with the current state of our government, on the left and on the right, and understandably so. But why is a horror show like Trump, his head about as empty as the petty, pinch-mouthed pumpkin he is, catching on with a greater number of people than curmudgeonly (but somehow lovable) Bernie Sanders? It’s that word “socialism,” I’m afraid.
Why are people so scared of Bernie Sanders’ brand of “socialism” anyway? When Bernie was on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday, he spoke about how he’s not in favor of tearing down capitalism, because there’s a lot of good that capitalism has done for this country and the world. But there are certain things in life – like healthcare, like education, like a roof over one’s head and food in one’s family’s mouths – that should not be about the profit margin but should always be AVAILABLE to everyone and also PAID FOR by everyone. I do not have any qualms with my tax dollars being used to help children and families live a healthy existence and raise themselves out of poverty and ignorance by getting a good and useful education in a nation that loudly touts itself as the greatest in the world. What’s wrong with taking care of each other? Sure, you can take care of yourself first, make certain your personal needs are met and your own children are secure, but once you’ve done that, you take care of others: kids, animals, the elderly, people less fortunate. It just so happens that many – if not most – of the people who have not only ENOUGH to satisfy their own needs but many multiples MORE than enough are the ones least likely to want to contribute to taking care of their fellow human beings.
With the general election still months away, and the pomp and ridiculousness of the party conventions yet to come, many decisions have clearly already been made about who Americans will vote for come November. One point of agreement seems to be that our political system is broken, and Hillary Clinton is (and has been) part of (and a product of) it for a long time. But I have no problem voting for her – and in all likelihood I will – even though at heart I’m more aligned with Bernie Sanders’ goals and ideals for our country. Hillary is smart, and experienced, and determined, and she’s on the correct side of the ideological aisle. And she’s also a woman, which is a big plus, as far as I am concerned – maybe her biggest plus – unlike the backwards-thinking idiots Hillary quotes in a New York Magazine article as saying, “I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president,” [Rebecca Traister, “Hillary Clinton vs. Herself,” New York Magazine, 5/30/16, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/05/hillary-clinton-candidacy.html]. (Still? Really? In 2016?? I’m flabbergasted.) In fact, I believe she’s the best possible choice in the current climate to be our (long overdue) first woman president: Tangentially part of the “old boy” network and in many ways status quo, a rule follower rather than a breaker, she also doesn’t raise the same kind of concerns about female “weaknesses” (the biological curses of periods and hormones and the primacy of child care and your-place-is-in-the-kitchen bullshit) because she’s of “a certain age” and past all that distraction. Every time I see that iconic photo of young Hillary, with her dark hair and serious glasses, in college or possibly law school busily organizing a human rights protest or doing some regime-shaking research, it makes me say, “THAT’S the Hillary I want to vote for, that enthusiastic, idealistic young woman in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s who believed anything was possible for a woman if she worked hard enough and said enough of the right words. You go, Young Hillary! I’m voting for you NOW, 40 years later!”
And once we elect Hillary, if we can manage to elect a cooperative Congress over the next couple of mid-term cycles, with Hillary in office and a liberal-leaning Congress (with Bernie as our catalyst and spiritual leader), we might be able to bring about some of the progressive changes that are so desperately needed in this country, including fixing the broken government itself. A revolution from within, if you will. Let’s do it!
Along those lines, I recently read a thought-provoking Washington Post article [Stephen Prothero, “Why conservatives start culture wars and liberals win them,” Washington Post, 1/29/16, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-conservatives-start-culture-wars-and-liberals-win-them/2016/01/29/f89d0b2c-b658-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html?tid=a_inl%5D that actually gave me some hope:
“As I investigated America’s culture wars from Jefferson to Obama, I found that they follow a predictable pattern. They tend to start on the right, with conservatives anxious about some cultural change. Yet conservatives almost always lose, because they lash themselves to lost causes. That’s how this latest round in our culture wars is likely to conclude, too. If you fear (as I do) what a President Trump might do, remember that the promise to build a Mexico-financed border wall or to ban Muslims from entering the country are as lost as causes can be.”
The article ends with a statement that I firmly believe to be true, but which also encapsulates what drives the conservative wing crazy: “But no matter how this presidential election turns out, the arc of American history should continue to bend toward tolerance and inclusion” (emphasis mine). That’s exactly what conservatives DO NOT want! They’d like nothing more than for us as a country to become more insular and exclusive, and to march in lock-step with strict (and, in my mind, wildly misinterpreted) tenets of Christianity or else you’re their enemy and must be quashed. The LAST thing they want is for America to “continue to bend toward tolerance and inclusion”. That’s the ultimate lost cause because, at heart, there are many more ways in which humans are alike than different: We love our families, we want to be free of oppression and strife and, most of all, we want to be happy and safe.