Well we have our two nominees for president. I think there has never been an election that had two candidates that reflect the times better than Clinton and Trump. We have an establishment candidate on the democratic side who led us through a “coronation” of sorts. And we have a reality star, drawing endless parallels to “Idiocracy”, that reflects the frustration of the populist wave that has been sweeping our country for the past 8 years. Since 2008, the veil of politicians and their cozy relations to the people that blockade our progression has been lifted. After no one was taken to task over derailing our economy, the rich got richer and the very same people who got us into a “lost decade” were tasked to pull us out of it. Politicians on both sides are guilty of spurring poor legislation, pay-day loan schemes, and an unfaltering level of student debt. Everyone from Paul Ryan to Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been exposed for who they are. An awakening is happening: where talking points, straw man arguments, partisan strategies, wedge issue placement, and all around bullshit have become unacceptable.
As an example of impeccable timing, Donald Trump runs for president as the whole country screams, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” At first, his remarks about Mexicans and the wall they’ll build for us stood as amusement. A feeling that reality television invaded our political dialogue for a quick visit became evident. Then the magic happened. We watched Trump, in what I consider the most entertaining election campaign of all time, eviscerate his competition with schoolyard quips, and name calling. At first, this strategy seemed unsustainable. But with huge help from the media blindly dispensing free air time that translated to positive coverage, Trump was able to be the last scam standing.
For the democrats, we watched a historical effort from Senator Bernie Sanders with his brand of left-leaning populism. As his support grew, income inequality and long held myths of capitalism were brought to the attention of the masses. All of a sudden, with an entire generation of young disappointed Americans behind him, Sanders’ socialist ideas were given a seat at the grown up table at Christmas. This campaign pulled Hillary to the left and made people question the long game of this widening class divide. Even the side that was running a successful establishment candidate was showing cracks, with unemployed debt-ridden college kids ready to burst through. But, as expected, Hillary prevailed and made history as the first female major party candidate for president.
So now we’re here…
Even before the party conventions have gathered, we’ve been offered a sneak peek into the general election. It’s obvious that Clinton’s camp is a well oiled political machine with hundreds under her employ. It’s also obvious that Trump has like five guys, none of which actually advise him. So we have one candidate with well staged speeches versus a guy who tweets impulsively. The fact that Twitter has turned into Trumps personal Associated Press wire has to mean the days are numbered for that social medium. But beyond the easy to spot stark differences between these candidates, I’ve been noticing a dark force foreshadowing violent times ahead.
Some weeks back, a Trump rally was met by protesters in what seems to be the new norm. The crowd outside quickly got out of control and many fights broke out. In a sad sight, one female Trump supporter was cornered. Protesters started throwing eggs that cracked upon impact and slowly gave way to gravity down her face. She tried to be defiant, smiling through it. Then more eggs. Then food that doesn’t crack and ooze. Then no more smiling. Fear. She was being pelted with objects as news cameras surrounded her… not to protect her, but to capture the “news.” My heart sunk watching this display. No one was right. This was not political discourse. What have we done?
Trump has made a habit of throwing rallies in locations that have a high minority population, Hispanic and the like, baiting a violent outcome. He’s successful almost everywhere he goes.
He is touching nerves that connect to race, immigration, and social responsibility. He’s garnered support from racists with xenophobia while pretending he is not using dog whistles to point out the “thugs” that disrupt his rallies. I think this is a dangerous experiment, and none of us are wearing protective gear. To see Americans fighting each other in violent scenes culminating all the bad parts of humans is truly saddening.
After the largest mass shooting on American soil, Trump congratulated himself on his view of Muslims and insinuated that our president was complicit in such terrorist attacks. This is different. This election is between a status quo establishment hawk and a madman that is still shocked he made it this far. It’s hard to imagine what a debate between these two candidates would look like.
As we look ahead to election day, I think we have to make a choice on how we, as the people, behave during this election. We can be civil or we can be animals. We can take our choices for what they are or become part of the problem in the choices we have. We can fall victim to “false facts” and galvanize this divide, or we can keep a strong contact with reality.
My hope is peace. My hope is that we don’t allow ourselves to be a part of the demagoguery that is ever present in Trump’s news cycle. My hope is that we don’t engage people from our home towns in bitter Facebook posts. Don’t let the system whose been playing us this whole time play us again. Let’s all be the adults in the room and navigate this shit-show with composure and intelligent thought. No memes. No fake graphs with fake statistics. No noise. Just truth. If that’s what we’re left to work with, I have hope for all of us. That way, in four years, we can elect a true revolutionary that will change the system the way we all want it to be changed.
We just need to survive this election cycle in one peace.