I’ve been trying to avoid political commentary for a few days, but things are getting difficult to ignore without saying something again.
I’m having trouble internalizing the attraction to Donald Trump’s crooked straight talk in the general election. I’m not sure he gets the difference between what you can get away with in the primaries and how everything gets scrutinized in a general election.
When you’re one guy saying crazy shit in a big field of single party candidates it may help you stand out. When it’s finally down to ‘one on one’ your every word is parsed, your every comment is fact-checked, and your every reaction is amplified a hundredfold.
So, yeah, pretty much every politician lies. Hillary isn’t my ideal candidate and I don’t trust her. But I don’t trust her on a normal politician level. I don’t trust her when she says she had no knowledge of some covert operation that she was involved in. I don’t trust that she says she wasn’t working with the DNC to edge out the other candidates when the committee was supposed to remain neutral. I don’t trust her anymore than any other politician, maybe even more than that. But it’s a normal distrust of a politician who has lived inside the system their whole life, and thinks they get different rules to follow. I hate that, but at least I understand it.
Trump is on a whole new level! He doesn’t even talk within the same reality as the rest of us. He comes out with a range of fabrications that range from normal political promises and lies, to completely made up crap with no basis in fact at all! That kind of Trumpism usually start with phrases like “I’m hearing a lot of people say…”. It’s these kinds of suggestive story-plants that many of his fans love, because they are based on a suggestion of the truth scraped off the bottom of a less sensational fact and then grown in the Petrie dish of his mind until it’s a colony of lies and made up crap that his fans can run with, but they will never bother to investigate the validity of the supporting facts.
Lately these homespun tales have taken on a new life as The Donald is discovering how the press takes everything said in a general election and magnifies it. Because of that his comments have taken on a bizarre, otherworldly feel. But being Trump he must defend them at all cost. He does that for a day or two, until he realizes the press isn’t going to move on to something else without an explanation. So in lieu of admitting what he said was pure bullshit his latest tactic is to take an incredulous stance about how the media doesn’t understand sarcasm. It’s obvious he was being sarcastic, and the media isn’t intelligent or nuanced enough to get his highly evolved sense of irony and humor!
You see Donald Trump, to the best of my knowledge, has never publicly admitted fault on anything. It’s not part of his make up. He needs to appear superior and unpredictable at all times. I’m assuming this is a holdover from his persona that cut winning deals in the real estate world while wheeling and dealing with mafioso contractors and tackling unreasonable zoning laws. You’ve got to make the other guy think you’re willing to pull out at the last second and leave him holding the bag in order to get the best price. Fine. It’s just not the best way to make Kim Jong Un disarm his nukes. In fact, that kind of behavior is more likely to cause North Korea to ramp up the rhetoric and double their efforts to protect themselves from those imperialistic American dogs.
There’s a lot of fear out there right now, and each candidate is trying to harness it for their own purposes and by using their own methods. One tries to show unpredictability, while the other professes stability. One comes off as brash, while the other displays cocksuredness. One proclaims to be the one who’s going to give it to you straight about the world while the other one explains how the other lies. Pretty soon it all becomes a big steaming pile, and voters are walking away because they feel like they’re going to lose either way. At this point it’s just a matter of degrees, they’re both the same.
But of course it’s not the same thing. They aren’t even close! Not because one is being more honest than the other, no. It’s because one really does know where the lines are, the other doesn’t care about lines and never has.
Being President isn’t like running a privately held company, nor is navigating international diplomacy. This isn’t about some show of power in your private boardroom where you set the other guy’s chair lower. No this is where you set foreign relations back an entire decade because you put your feet up to relax and ended up showing a foreign diplomat the bottom of your shoes.
There is a large portion of Americans who feels like aggression and intimidation are what is needed at this point. They are afraid because things are changing and it doesn’t always favor them. I wish I could say these people are only on one side of the isle, but the extreme left’s use of intimidation is just as bad, although it admittedly tends to use less physical threats… But if pointed out, they will always fail to see their actions in the same light. However, the inability to work with those you deplore leads only to political stalemates. If you forgot what that looks like just check out the current Congressional and Presidential relationship. That can easily reverse parties and be just as disfunctional. No one has exclusive rights to the truth.
A while ago I published a short post that simply said “If you consider yourself politically right-wing and think the left is the problem, or if you’re left-wing and think the right is the problem… Remember, a bird needs both wings to fly.” When I wrote that I was thinking of a teaching from the Venerable Lama Yeshe who said that “…a bird needs two wings to fly, we need both the wing of wisdom and the wing of compassion. In order to develop the wisdom wing we work on our own minds; the main beneficiary is oneself, but indirectly others also benefit. In order to develop the compassion wing we continue to work on our minds, but the main beneficiary is others.”
I believe the same thinking can be applied to both wings of politics in America these days: Conservatism says “We must support the homeland, businesses and individuals first in order to create success and jobs that others will benefit from.” The problem with this line of thinking is that people are not free of greed, and while greed exists, trickledown can never work. Meanwhile Progressivism looks at the value of all work and lifestyles and says that “There must be some basic societal standards so that no one worries about healthcare, childcare and other absolutes that draw on a society and sap the working class of its basic efforts. Once these basic needs are fulfilled the people are free to give back to the society that they pay into and that supports them.” Except there are those who will always take advantage of this freedom, and because of that progressivism too will fail.
It’s clear that as long as the people are divided the structure of our Democratic Republic continues to weaken. For it to work everyone must recognize there are many needs, some of which are conflicting, and that our ability to accept compromise is what made the massive growth periods in our history so unique. What is now a dirty word was actually the machine that allowed the American experiment to progress.
The motto “Make America Great Again” is meant to prey on people’s sense of fear and nostalgia. We all intellectually know that we can’t go back in time. But we want to feel the stability that comes with still being the light on the hill that the world defers to. Only it doesn’t work that way. Nothing stays the same and the ability to adapt is really the key to longevity. The balance portrayed in Father Knows Best never acknowledged the fallout shelter in the back garden, and speaking the truth doesn’t equal the freedom to demean others. Immigration is the rule in America, not the exception. America has always been as as great as its citizenry.
Don’t buy the bullshit from the podium. And don’t let them insult your intelligence by claiming you didn’t get the joke. We can tell when we’re being lied to, and we know racism and misogyny when we see it. There is a certain attraction to having a candidate who is outside of the system to some extent, but this isn’t some minor job, this is the most powerful position in the free world. Why would would we want to ignore that there are prerequisites for the presidency? Would you look for heart surgeon who isn’t part of the hospital elite to do your triple bypass? At some point the lack of experience should logically outweigh the perceived absence of corruption.
And can you really tell me that Donald Trump doesn’t just come with his own brand of corruption instead?