This post deals with topics of a political nature. If just that word makes you roll your eyes, then, well… that’s probably going to happen a lot if you keep reading. But I ask that you keep reading nonetheless, and consider my words with as much objectivity and calm as possible. And hey, I get it – it’s easy to get infuriated when people don’t agree with you.
That’s sort of the problem.
I imagine that each generation thinks the politics of their time are the worst they’ve ever been. But I remember a time when respectful disagreement between political parties was possible, rather than the completely-at-each-other’s-throats nature of politics that now seem commonplace. The things that divide us often seem stronger than the things that unite us, and that, my friends, is Very Not Good.
Abortion. Religion. Science. Economics. Politics itself.
One must be pro-choice or pro-life. One is not permitted the nuance of thinking that abortion isn’t exactly a good thing, but it’s a complicated issue. I may think it’s a very poor method of birth control, and not a choice I think I could live with. But it’s also not my body, and nor do I have the right to tell someone else what they have to do with theirs. Nor is it a choice that I will ever have to live with. The nuance goes even further, of course.
One must have faith – and this typically means Christian, as we as a society are simply not terribly interested in what other faiths are doing unless they’re Muslim. This thing that is supposed to bring peace to people is instead repeatedly used as a wedge. The “War on Christmas”, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism. Schism over equality within faiths. Midichlorians. (Screw you, Episode I.) Large portions of our society still seem unable to grasp the basic meaning of the separation of church and state, that, essentially, the two should stay out of each other’s business. The government doesn’t have the right to tell the church who they should marry any more than the church has the right to tell the state who can’t. Society at large is not trying to remove Christ from Christmas – though the holiday is just as much a secular celebration for those of us who do not subscribe to any particular faith. Telling the faithful that one is a perfectly happy agnostic is often met with condescending pity (though those responsible often do not see their words in that way.) Some atheists rage at what they perceive at the blind foolishness of the faithful, and this approach is just as wrong. Faith is an individual matter, and best left that way. No one has the right to tell you what your faith is or how to practice it, and nor do you have any right to tell others what and how they must believe. And the State stays out of the whole damn thing. That’s what Freedom of Religion is.
I may not be objective on the next point, as I am a scientist. I was educated as a biologist, and have worked as a chemist for the better part of a decade. To me, scientific facts are perfectly clear when there is such a large body of evidence to support them, like the theory of anthropogenic climate change, or the efficacy and safety of vaccines as a method of disease control. But this, too, has sadly been placed on the altar of political confrontation. One’s acceptance of science has become a matter of belief. This, my friends, is also wrong. You can argue with the conclusions. You can argue with the implications. You can argue what the next steps are. But it’s very hard to argue with the data. Science, at its core, is about revision, and proof. Scientific theory represents the best information we have available at any given time, and it is always – ALWAYS – open to revision. New information can always force a re-evaluation of a theory. And it should! But that’s the catch – you can’t just say you don’t believe in it. If a theory is wrong: prove it. Please.
Our next topic sort of has the same problem. Everyone has their own pet economic theory, and their beliefs on why the other ones would represent the END OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION. Free-Market Capitalism. Regulated Capitalism. Socialism. Communism. The problem with this is that no economic ideal actually encompasses the breadth of human nature. Not one. In their purist forms, they fail to account for human nature at all. So whatever we have is going to be a constant hybrid in a state of refinement. ALWAYS. So, as a society, it is up to us to do the best we can. But if we can’t do that if everyone who thinks differently is the enemy.
All of these things – and dozens of others – over the last few decades, have firmly divided the American populace into more obstinately divided camps than we have ever been before. And each cycle gets worse. During the Bush years, many of the Democrats in Congress were unreasonably obstinate. During the Obama years, the Republicans have taken it further to the point where they seem to have abandoned rationality. At this point, should Clinton win, I fully expect the Republican Party to eat itself from the inside-out. Should Trump win, I expect the Democrats will spend the next four to eight years collectively losing their shit just as badly.
But that, in itself, is another aspect of the problem. And friends, I don’t know how we got here. Not exactly. But I know we collectively need to damn well do something about it. Because this collective madness has gotten us to the point where Donald Trump is considered an adequate candidate for President of the United States.
And that, my friends, is absolutely-banana pants-insane.
Whatever your issues with Hillary Clinton may be – that she’s a woman, that she’s untrustworthy, that she’s a politician, that she shadily set up a private e-mail server, or any of it, I ask you to please set them aside. They are the objections one is likely to have about any opposing political candidate, and we could spend all day debating them. I would happily and respectfully do so. The same could be said for Gary Johnston or Jill Stein (and man, believe me, I would LOVE for third- and fourth-parties to be an actual thing, because I think that would better represent the opinions of our electorate.)
But please, let us set aside the us vs. them, red vs. blue, my-team-is-better-than-your team for a moment. Let us step back from the way our society has turned every debate into a fist-fight. Let us ignore the fact that the majority of our most common news and information sources are in it for the entertainment value and the money, not out of any sense of duty to keep the public informed.
Donald Trump is a horribly awful presidential candidate. He is an egotist, a narcissist, a bigot, and a bully. He is temperamentally unsuited for the office of the President. Hell, he’s temperamentally unsuited to be a used-car salesman. He openly brags of buying off politicians. He openly degrades every group that is not white men. He openly advocates unsupported conspiracy theories. He openly engages in rhetoric designed to be inflammatory because he (wrongly) believes that all attention is good attention. That’s all he wants out of this, folks. He doesn’t want to “Make America Great Again”. He doesn’t want to provide economic stability for the average joe. He doesn’t want to simplify the tax code to everyone’s benefit – but he does want to drastically alter it in a way that screws everyone else but benefits him. He doesn’t care if manufacturing jobs are here or elsewhere. He doesn’t care if Obama was actually born in the United States. He doesn’t care about Hillary Clinton’s health. He doesn’t care about any of the things he says – and I mean the things he says directly, not statements attributed to him or interpreted by others. If I attempted to outline ever single reason he’s unfit for the office, I would be here for days, and those points have been amply made by others.
He doesn’t care about any of those things. He cares about how he can use those things to manipulate us into doing what he wants. He cares about the attention he gets from seeing his name in print, from seeing people talking about him, no matter what they’re saying. He’s the guy in your office who is always right, no matter how blatantly and obviously wrong he his. He’s the guy who bullies everyone into getting his way, no matter how much it screws things up for everyone else. He’s the uncle you never, ever mention anything about race at Thanksgiving because good god, do you not want to hear one more freaking rant about it.
He’s a bad candidate, and a terrible human being. That he has become the Republican nominee is not a triumph against the establishment. It’s a statement of the establishment’s failure to establish any sort of coherent worldview. It’s a surrender of the notion of any form of uniform Republican ideals crystallized around a single concept: Opposition. Anyone who is not us is wrong, and must be stopped. You are either with us or against us.
That aside, he’s dangerous. He’s dangerous to the citizens of the United States, and the people of the world. International politics is a delicate minefield, and he would plow through it with all the care of a bull in a china shop. But instead of dishes being broken, you’re talking about lives and the fate of nations. He is a man who openly wonders why we can’t just use our nukes to settle matters with other countries. He is a man who advocates for agents of a foreign power to hamper his political rivals. He openly idolizes the dictatorial tendencies of Vladimir Putin. He openly speaks of hampering our most sacred rights – Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion. He proposes firing the Joint Chiefs because they served under the opposing political party, threatening the very neutrality of our military. He casts doubt on the very bedrock of our Republic, the peaceful transition of power, by suggesting that a rigged election is the only way he could lose.
He SHOULD lose. Donald Trump represents the very worst of America. He is our fear, our insecurity, our ugliest tendencies made manifest.
Vote for Clinton, Johnson, or Stein. Or don’t vote at all, whatever is your pleasure.
But, please. PLEASE. For the sake of whatever God believe in, from the God of Abraham all the way to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for the sake of our country, do not vote for Donald Trump. There will come a time, eventually, when the current madness has subsided. These things do go in cycles. And I firmly, absolutely believe that there will come a day when many of those who have supported Donald Trump will feel deeply ashamed of that fact. I know this will fall on some deaf ears. I know some of you will think I am foolishly misguided for feeling this way. I respect that you beleive differently than I do, and that maybe absolutely nothing I can say is going to change your mind. I even respect that you may feel completely differently from me on these topics, and that your objections to other candidates may be so strong that you cannot agree with what I’m saying. I respect your right to that opinion, but I have to try.
Please. Please, set aside everything our society has taught you about everything being a zero-sum-game. That everything can be boiled down to one side versus another. Please forget all of that and consider this man objectively. Put him in the dustbin of history where he belongs, at poorly-attended nursing home book signings. That’s all he deserves. Not the highest office in the land.
I am begging you, my friends. Please don’t do something that we will all end up regretting.
And while we’re at it, why don’t we all collectively agree to disagree a little bit more respectfully? That couldn’t hurt at this point.
Aggregate article linking the many statements Trump has made – See this link for a large collection of sources for many of Trump’s statements I’ve referenced in this post.