16

Oct 16

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE “UNITED” PART

The following video may be upsetting to some (all) people. This is a caricature* of a Donald Trump supporter:


There are many things wrong with America. There will always be many things wrong with America. A society governed by the law of averages will always produce cracks through which Wrongs will flow. To get a handle of what this means, play a game called Democracy 3. I keep giving my people nice things and they keep assassinating me.

An ideal government will consider the needs of its people and enact policy that will best provide for those needs. The needs of the people are varied and many, and often change from year to year. The people elect officials who most closely embodies those needs. This is what I mean when I say we are governed by the law of averages. A candidate is elected 60/40, and a best case scenario would result in policy benefiting as many people as possible.

That’s the ideal system; we do not have it and are not even close. A third dimension of governance is money. Whoever has the most dollars wins. Suppose an elected official wins via 60% of the electorate and fails to implement a majority of their campaign promises. With little exception, the official was offered incentive not to. This angers the people, who then vote the official out.

A successful politician will balance the needs of the people against the need for money. Running a political campaign requires a lot of cash. To wit, nobody thought Bernie Sanders would go anywhere without at least a few corporate sponsors on his race suit.

We The People don’t have a lot of money. Our political capital is The Vote. We study the candidates available to us, discuss issues facing The People, and decide who is worthy of our vote. The law of averages takes care of the rest, and we give the elected official a set amount of time to champion The People’s needs. If they don’t, The People roll the dice on someone else.

Over the past few decades, the electorate has become suspicious of the voting system. Anecdotal evidence of trucks of paper votes disappearing, electronic voting machines casting a vote opposite of your choice, voter suppression and discrimination, invalidated votes, and voter purges have understandably shaken the public’s confidence of our voting system.

When The People feel their voice is not being heard or even shrugged off entirely, they shut themselves out of the political process and start talking amongst themselves.

Enter The Donald.

We saw Diet Donald already: The Tea Party. They made some noise but never gained significant ground to rattle government in a manner pleasing to them. But The Donald is Strong and Loud. He got people’s attention, and he has staying power.

When he entered the race, I thought it was a joke, a big publicity stunt for whatever business venture he was to launch next. Surely a man with no political experience would be put to rest by lifelong politicians, right? Exactly the opposite. He didn’t play by any modern political playbook and easily defeated a large field of nominee hopefuls. Jeb Bush’s “please clap” remark was the death of the Republican race. The size of Trump’s and others’ manhood became a topic of presidential debate. I can’t believe I just wrote that. It’s a topic of puerile schoolyard banter, not public policy.

The Donald gave voice to millions of disenfranchised voters. His supporters said, “Holy crap, he says what I say to my drinking buddies!” I don’t believe media pundits who say The Donald is unhinged and says whatever is top of mind. This is a calculated attempt by Trump at bringing a fringe society who would not otherwise vote to the polling station. This fringe doesn’t have to believe everything he says. Quite the opposite. Only one topic needs to resonate: bring Law and Order™ to people darker than beige; kick out every illegal immigrant; jail political opponents; institute religious testing for those not of Anglo-Christian faith; grab women by the pussy; institute torture; turn unfriendly nations into parking lots; let our allies fend for themselves; the list continues and can include anything that restricts, suppresses, or dismisses the rights of others.

The Donald is not a person who introduced these ideas into American society; he is a representative of the ideologues and is the man who has given light to these views on a national scale. They previously existed in dark corners of the internet and basements of That Guy You Don’t Talk To. At minimum, a third of the country is going to vote for Trump. He has decidedly shown that we are not, in fact, The United States of America. There are those among us who would wish ill will to a shockingly large number of people and Donald Trump has given them agency.

What horrifies me most is Donald Trump has given legitimacy to questionable and offensive rhetoric. He has mocked the disabled, objectified women, criticized female journalists, banned news organizations from his rallies, threatened to loosen libel law, threatened to withdraw from NATO, asked the Russian government to hack us, asked the Second Amendment “people” to do something about Hillary… the list goes on. In any other election cycle, he’d be tarred and feathered. But not this one. I fear we’ve hit a turning point in American politics: this won’t be the first Trump, but one of many more Trumps, dialing up the rhetoric further, and one of these cycles, Mini Trump is going to win.

I’ve avoided making comparisons of Trump’s rise to that evil guy with the toothbrush mustache. But if you want to understand Trump’s rise in near documentary quality, a German film has you covered: Look Who’s Back. Highly recommended viewing in this election cycle.

America has a lot of problems, but the foremost issue of our time is the ideological divide of our people. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is under assault; we are now the land of the free if you are of a certain social class and home of the brave if the powers that be decide you are worthy of defending. We are no longer The United States of America. We are The United Pockets of America, where certain geographic areas lean one way, other areas lean the opposite, and there is no reconciliation between the two. In a land of opportunity, both say no to the other. I cannot offer a solution other than to listen to each other. When both sides shut each other out, neither win.

I wrote this article for one reason. I keep hearing people ask:

“How did it get this way?”

*A caricature, while usually larger than life and outrageous, is still based on real life.

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