Saturday, November 26, 2016

Trumped, 3 Takes

I write a lot about personal freedom. I write about cannabis constantly. I express my support for the NODAPL protest at Standing Rock. I voted for Hilary. I'm still processing my thoughts about president elect Donald Trump. This post is my next step in that process.

Like many Americans, my perception of the election's aftermath is shaped by social media. I'm flooded daily with anti-Trump memes and reactive commentary from both sides. Taken as a whole, I see three major through-lines, embodied best by the following posts. I warn you: They are triggers.

The people in this group remind me of many I've met in passing. They are functional adults. However, their ability to think critically is dramatically impaired. They genuinely believe the satirical ads shown to them are real. Likewise, they are more susceptible to believing whatever their favored leaders present as absolute truth, regardless of the objective facts. They seem easily influenced by “group think” and have only a superficial understanding of complex subjects. They do not strike me as being inherently racist or sexist. Rather, they are so deeply pitted against established politics that Donald Trump seems heroic, and (for them) his racism and sexism is beside the point.

In one recent article, a reporter in a very blue neighborhood goes to interview one lone Trump supporter on the corner. Reflecting on the interview, she states:

I kept thinking how unsettling it was to actually like this man. He was funny. He clearly would do anything for his family. He loved this neighborhood as much as I did. He was thoughtful. (Even if I didn’t agree with many of his thoughts, I credit him for giving them so much thought.) I truly believed that if I called him for help in a crisis, he would be there. But at the same time, he was seeing humor where I saw misogyny, seeing refreshing straight talk where I saw alarming racism.

Personally, I feel this man represents the majority of Trump's supporters. His reasoning skills surpass those of the focus group participants. He supports Trump primarily for economic reasons. He recognizes that Trump's most outlandish claims are totally absurd and genuinely cannot understand the liberals who take them seriously enough to perceive an actual threat.

The Literal Liberals

This video features genuine directness. Its speaker differs from the nationalists next door principally in her assertion that the threat posed by normalizing Trump's stated ideals is real and should be treated as such. At worst, the literal liberals claim Trump will spearhead actual legislation which invalidates the very lives of many upstanding Americans and more rapidly deteriorates not just the quality of our government but also the quality of our very planet itself. Even if Trump does little more politically than maintain the status quo, the literal liberals feel we risk the horror of increased domestic terrorism at the hands of people like those within the frightening focus group who have become radicalized by his polarizing rhetoric.

The Take Away

The truth of Trump's impact, of course, remains to be seen. In my opinion, he deserves a chance to prove the literal liberals wrong. However, no one should assume that he will do so. He has done nothing to earn the benefit or our collective doubt, and his present Cabinet selections do nothing to help his case.

Therefore, giving him the chance to lead while making no assumptions about his inherent success or failure, means holding him intensely accountable for his actions by consistently speaking up on the issues themselves.

It means subjecting Trump to ongoing, uncensored criticism which is openly available to the public.

It also means taking steady steps to support the relocation of your life to a safer space in the event this is needed after all.

Finally, Trump's presumptive victory highlights the importance of how we share information and craft our cultural narratives. It indicates that critical thinking is low and needs to be addressed through education about how we use and evaluate the media, especially Facebook and Twitter. It also reminds us that art (whether it be dramatic, comedic, visual, musical or otherwise) is an important way to give our causes a voice.

If you've been waiting for a creative resurgence, now is the time.

The Urban Dictionary's top definition of “trump card” follows:

The final resort but often the easiest way out.
You're most powerful option in succeeding at anything in life.
Unfortunately, once used, the trump card can rarely be used on the same person again. If reused it will rarely be as powerful.

Donald Trump's presumptive victory may be the ultimate trump card when it comes to re-structuring the socio-political climate within the USA. I say: Let's learn from it well, so that we won't need to rely on it again.

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