Thoughts in the Time of Trump

Before the presidential election a few months ago I mused about whether it is more upsetting to live in a country where Donald Trump was president or in a country where people would elect a Donald Trump to office. I have decided that it is the latter. The election of Donald Trump reveals that my fellow citizens are not only desperate, racist, and selfish, but they are incredibly ignorant of how things work in America. I am not talking about the 1% who have a rational interest in Trump because he will protect and advance their interests. The ideological conservatives who argue that government needs to be as small as it can be, that government should be run like a business, and that it needs to be fiscally responsible so as not to inflate the national debt, do not understand the purpose of government. The middle and lower class who believe Trump will work in their interests do not understand that Trump works mostly in the interest of himself and those like him. The interests of the middle and lower classes will be way down the list in his imperial presidency. When push comes to shove he will throw them under the bus like in the health care bill. Those who claim they are self made and resent assistance given to the “undeserving” or “lazy” poor are not only selfish, they usually do not understand or acknowledge how much help they may have received along the way to their so called self sufficiency. They also do┬ánot understand how late capitalism with its automation and concentration of wealth has produced and continues to produce poverty until it reaches their doorstep. When it does they still worship those who are strangling them, blame immigrants or non-whites, resent those who are doing better than they, and refuse to unite across racial lines with those who are in similar straits

Even the racists will find that America cannot run (and never has) without people of other races. Farmers fear that their Mexican farm workforce will be diminished by immigration policies; medical facilities would be hamstrung without foreign doctors; entertainment or sports would be far different without people of different races, and the list goes on and on. America’s diversity is its strength not its weakness. The religious zealots who espouse their own self-serving brand of Christianity want to impose it on the government. They are no better than the Taliban and want nothing more than a Christian sharia. It is fine to hold your own religious beliefs, but to impose them on others or the government, especially in such a multi-religious place as the U.S. is directly counter to the reason this nation was formed and the Constitution. This is ignorance unbound.

Our failing educational system has left them not only ignorant, but willfully ignorant of the true nature of the world around them. The medical system has left them dependent on opioids and now changes in the health care system threaten to withdraw even that. Neither the Democratic or Republican parties have offered much real relief to those who elected Trump. They have sold out to corporate interests instead of serving the people they supposedly represent. I read somewhere that when the people act stupidly it means their leaders have failed them.

The real question is “how do we get out of this mess we are in?” We are certainly not going to do it with the two political parties we currently have. The Republican party has abdicated care of their constituents in favor of an ideological commitment that says “damn the torpedoes, (and even the loss of lives) full speed ahead.” They are even willing to swallow clear Russian involvement in our electoral system if it gives them an opportunity to pursue their agenda. The Democrats aren’t much better. At best they provide a thin shield and ragged opposition to the Republicans. They refuse to see that success involves a wholesale change to a people centered outlook and content themselves with small piecemeal changes that have been and will continue to be ineffective. We are left with two alternatives. We either start a new party or seize the controls of the Democratic Party. It is very difficult to start a new political party in the United States and the odds are stacked against it. No such party has emerged dominant since the birth of the Republican party in the 1850’s. It took a Civil War to do that. The second option has also been unsuccessful so far. The Democratic Party has rebuffed the challenge of Bernie Sanders, kept the leadership of the party in party hack hands, and, as seen in the Jon Ossoff election, not learned its ways. Still this seems like the best of the bad options we face. It might take Democratic failure in 2018 and 2020 to accomplish it, but it looks like the only viable alternative.

W.E.B Du Bois said in 1906 that “either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.” I fear we are in the midst of watching the latter.

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