Preface: I usually avoid speaking on political topics, mostly because I don’t have the knowledge to speak confidently and intelligently about most political matters. But I really feel like there’s something desperately missing in today’s political discourse. So I’m ranting about it, because I’m funemployed and I had a shit ton of free time to write this out.
This might be the least inspiring slate of presidential candidates since Gore vs. Bush.
In one corner, Donald J. Trump. A former real-estate mogul turned former reality star to now Republican nominee for President. A man who carries the hopes and dreams of Tea Partiers and poor disillusioned whites everywhere, with the promises of a subsidized Great Wall of America to keep out immigrants who keep taking rightful American jerbs and raping rightful American women. In other words, while Trump has never displayed the kind of business acumen that his brand conveys, he’s a good enough businessman to exploit the opportunity in White America’s growing fear of outsiders.
In another corner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. A career politician who leveraged her First Ladyship into two terms as State Senator of New York and as Secretary of State for President Barack Obama. A woman who fits every stereotype of everything the normal citizen hates about politicians: flip-flopping her positions to pander to her base, exposing her ties to Wall Street bankers who resemble the robber barons of the 1800s, and becoming so out-of-touch with today’s technologically advanced society that she can’t even abide by security protocols of her own fucking department when it comes to sensitive emails.
In other words, we have between us a turd sandwich and a giant douche. And you know what? This is what we deserve. This is exactly what we deserve.
No, not you the individual. You who have researched both candidates. You who gets their news from multiple sources so as not to skew your views to a single agenda. You who carefully vets facts and statistics to come to your own well-thought out position. It is not your personal fault that we have the least inspiring slate of presidential candidates since Al Gore and George W. Bush.
No, it’s our collective fault. We the people have become so fractured, so polemic, so disillusioned that we’ve created a perfect storm of political incompetence. The Republicans could not reign in the beast of their own creation, and so deserve Donald Trump as their nominee. The Democrats did better to fight off their own insurgent candidate in Bernie Sanders, but have so created a schism between the centrist and progressive wings of their party that have resulted in the lukewarm reception to Hillary Clinton.
My theory on how we got here is the lack of unity between both major parties. That’s apparent with the apparent manifestation of crazy in the Republican party’s forced allegiance to its Tea Party contingent. It’s becoming apparent with the increasing force of progressivism within the Democratic party. We’re all becoming fragmented and joining our own little gangs, everyone in agreement that this whole system is broken except for the parts that we agree with.
In my mind, we’ve become more like gangs than political parties. And to me, we got here because of our shitty standard of reporting.
I was talking with a friend of mine who works in journalism. We were discussing how journalism as a whole has taken a nose-dive in quality, and quality journalism has become increasingly difficult to find. I mention this because I feel like today’s journalism is tinged with so much polemic and is devoid of all nuance. There is no neutrality, no objective reporting of facts. What I see in the press is pandering to emotion. So many misleading headlines. So many skewed facts. Editorialized narratives. We’ve become so focused on selling narratives that we forget that the facts dictate the story, and not the other way around.
Why is this important? Because a healthy press, one that reports on the basis of fact instead of narrative, informs the public with objectivity and allows an environment where truth can dictate the best way forward. People can interpret facts differently, but their decisions are made on as much truth as man can possibly put on the page.
But when the press is beholden to governmental or corporate interests, when they get sucked into narratives that are based on agenda instead of fact, we get a populace that votes against their best interest.
So instead of choosing our politics based on fact, we become swayed on agendas that are tailored to appeal to our emotions instead of our rationality. I know this is nothing new in history, but this polemic that is tearing our political discourse apart is the worst I’ve ever seen it.
This polemic is poisoning almost every piece of discourse I’m seeing. We’ve become so dedicated to our own specific brand of politics that we forget that politics works best when it finds unified solutions that benefit a plurality, not specific solutions that benefit your own interests.
I’m tired of people rushing to the moral high ground, to stamp their feet on the foundation to see if it holds enough weight for their indignation and outrage at the other side. The lack of empathy is justified by painting the other side as illogical and close-minded, they simply don’t listen to facts or truth.
Well, if I’ve learned anything, yelling at the other side, insulting them, undercutting them, debasing them, shaming them, is doing really well to convince them of your viewpoint. And it’s apparent in all sections of the political spectrum.
It’s no surprise that the current discourse is failing to show fruit. We don’t even want to work with the other side. We just want to paint them as stupid. They’re stupid, stupid racists. Or they’re stupid, stupid hippies. Why can’t you just see what I see, you stupid, stupid person. Why can’t you believe what I believe, you stupid, stupid person.
Has it always been like this? Or am I just learning some grown-up truth that’s been apparent to adults since the end of time? Am I just imagining a time when people didn’t resort to naked demagoguery as their primary tool of evangelism? Am I just imagining that America was once a more enlightened place where compromise was to celebrated instead of forgotten?
Yes. Compromise. It’s such a dirty word when we talk about the moralities of those who’ve been wronged. Let’s take Black Lives Matters for example. Morally, there is no compromise to be had when it comes to police officers killing minority citizens in grossly disproportionate rates. This sounds like an issue where compromise is a hollow victory for minorities. That oppression will continue. That unfair treatment will continue. That to sell out now would be a waste of all the momentum built since Trayvon Martin was shot by a wannabe Wyatt Earp in George Zimmerman.
You’re not wrong, but haranguing cops everywhere from a soapbox isn’t a solution. Here’s the reality of the situation: there will be no progress, no movement, without buy-in from the other side. The other side has to come to the table. It’s not about proving them wrong and dancing on their rhetorical corpse. You have to reach out to them. Empathize with them. Connect with them. Compromise with them.
Without compromise, we will not achieve anything of note. All we will achieve is being right in the eyes of our friends and followers. Yes, I personally agree more with Black Lives Matter over All Lives Matter. I want African-Americans to walk American streets without fearing legalized murder by the hands of a few stupid cops. I want the legacy of redlining to be addressed. I want to believe in the dream of Martin Luther King Jr, where a child of America has an equal chance to succeed regardless of the color of their skin, or the address on their birth certificate, or the pronunciation of their names.
But I also know that neither side will acquiesce a single inch to the other just because they’re being “proven wrong.” I know that being outraged won’t do a fucking thing to convince All Lives Matter that their obstinance is counter-productive to the health of this country. Outrage, disgust, and offense might’ve worked back in the day. But we ain’t back in the day anymore. Not when everyone is looking for a reason to be outraged.
In my eyes, the only thing your outrage against cops or immigrants or Trump or Hillary can buy is Facebook likes and Twitter shares from your followers. But I suppose that’s all that matters these days, so what the fuck do I know.
(1) By the way, has anyone leveraged a loss as well as Al Gore? Holy shit. He went from being the humorless robot that lost to a guy nicknamed “Dubya” to winning hearts and minds through a fucking documentary on global warming. Anyone looking for lessons on how to fail up should read the case study on Albert Arnold Gore.^
(2) And by doing better, the Democratic party was simply more wanton in stacking the deck against Sanders. Still, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. Not that my presidential vote matters as a Californian resident, but to abstain, to vote 3rd party, or to vote for Trump has far worse implications. A Trump presidency with a Pence vice-presidency could be disastrous for this country if you’re not a white male. And I’m not one.^