Friday 11 November 2016

What the flying Trump?!

Preface: I had sworn to myself to avoid politics (and social media) completely. But here we are. I couldn't resist writing this because I'm pissed. You've probably read something similar elsewhere by now. This is not meant to be an insightful viewpoint that's never been thought of before. This is a quasi-rant. 

If you're one of my friends or followers or readers, I expect you may be pissed off by this post. You've been warned. Additionally, I am NOT a supporter of Trump or Hillary. In my eyes humanity deserves better than both. I can also give two shits about the GOP or the DNC. 

Disclaimer: In case you're a new reader, Frankly I'm the exact shade of brown that should be afraid right now, and I am.
What the flying fu*k?

So unless you've been living in a cave, All hail president Zod Trump. Before you sell your property and move as far away as possible in a futile attempt to avoid the end of the human race, just remember that in the current global market environment, no place is far enough away to not be affected by anything he does or doesn't do.

So how did a racist, sexist, bigot become president? I'll tell you how; Hubris. No, not hubris on his behalf (although he's a narcissistic and arrogant to a fault), but the hubris of his opponents. Yes, including a large number of you.

Your Hubris:

Additional Disclaimer: I'm not immune. I'm guilty of lots of this myself. However I HAVE lived in both Red and Blue states and counties. I've experienced my fair share of bigotry and racism, so no, I'm not "blind" to the realities. 

Judging by reactions on social media, reddit ...etc, Most of his average Joe/Jane opponents believe that all his supporters are racist, sexist, bigoted...etc. Well, that's simply not true. A large portion of them, maybe even the majority? Undeniably. All of them? Nope. He couldn't have won based on his bigoted, racist, sexist supporters alone. It's just not possible. The USA would be an entirely different country otherwise.

It's human nature to be tribal, to default to an "us vs them" zero sum game, to assume your opponents have no valid points, concerns or fears, and that they're basically spurred on by all that is wrong with the world. In some cases, you're absolutely right. But most of the time, you're completely wrong.

"You want me to stoop to their level? You want me to try to understand and empathize with someone that supports a monster like that? Are you out of your mind?"

Perhaps I am, So let's go with your hypothesis that your enemies aren't human beings, but rabid monsters. To quote;

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 

You're so obsessed with your enemy being evil, that you've shot yourself in the foot by not trying to understand your enemy.

You've ridiculed, belittled, insulted, and more, and you're surprised when the reaction from these people is a giant middle finger.

I tweeted an article a few weeks, Sourly noting that a comedy site writer was able to identify the keys to Trump's popularity in a manner that political analysts weren't able to until weeks later. What was the key to the writer's insight? He didn't look down at them, didn't disparage them, he just tried to understand. Sure, he finds some or all of their beliefs despicable, but he tried to understand.

While the entire world was slammed in the global economic crisis of the 2000's, Rural areas have not recovered anywhere near as well as urban areas have.

To quote a friend:

"Yup, the whole thing rang true, but especially because of the changes we saw in small-town America during our cross-country motorcycle rides between when we did our first one in the early 2000's vs the last one we did in 2012. We rode off the freeways as much as we could on all our trips and couldn't believe how moderately thriving small towns had turned into near-ghost towns over that 10 years. Cafes/diners, motels, gift shops, clothing stores, convenience stores, and even gas stations boarded up and closed -- to the point that we got worried about being able to find gas for the bikes and a place to sleep in some areas in the latter years. Small towns out in the middle of nowhere with giant murals on the side of buildings and even billboards against meth. Tumbleweeds or the equivalent in the streets. And in both countries, and everywhere else, as if fascism will solve this..."

But no, no. It's totally because they're all racist, sexist and bigots.

Hell, some of you will blame 3rd party voters, people who abstained from voting, the third vertebra on the neck of a purple giraffe, my left toe, and potato salad, but won't consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you approached the entire situation the wrong way.

There's another reason, that may very well get me lynched...

Political correctness.

Before you start gathering the pitchforks and hunting me down to destroy me, hear me out;

While they definitely have noble and admirable intentions, The leftist PC movement over the past period has to quite a few people, taken it too far. South Park ridiculed the hell out of the movement for an entire season.

It's gotten to the point where people are afraid of accidentally saying the wrong thing, in fear of having their life destroyed. Let me repeat that; In the USA, supposedly the land of freedom and liberty, people are actually AFRAID to accidentally say the wrong thing, in fear of having their lives destroyed. REGARDLESS of intent or context. Let that sink in for a second. Hell, In writing this entire article, THIS is the only section I'm legitimately worried about writing.

Frankly, it's gotten absurd. Stand-up comedians have refused to perform at universities because of it. Even fairly "tame" comedians like Jerry Seinfeld have avoided performing at campuses because of it.

Even more absurd, you can't voice an unpopular opinion at most colleges now because of "safe spaces" (The term itself has definitely been warped out of context). If you don't learn to listen to and argue against opinions you don't find appealing or don't agree with in college, when the hell are you going to learn? Hell, If someone's opinion really is wrong, what better place to convince the individual otherwise than a college campus?! Instead they're silenced out of fear.

As one of my friends who escaped for his life from the Middle east told me;

"I didn't leave a country where I was afraid to accidentally say the wrong thing, in fear of my life being destroyed by the government, to come to a country where I'm afraid to accidentally say the wrong thing, in fear of my life being destroyed by the people instead"

Think about that for a moment. He was as afraid from a tyrannical government as he is of regular people in a free country.

And no, it's not fear-mongering. It's actually happened. Several times. Regardless of intent or context. Hell, some of them weren't even from the same country!

Hell, There's a co-opt'ed battle raging to this day over video games that has managed to destroy people's lives. FUCKING VIDEO GAMES! Which frankly managed to make some fairly despicable people into "heroes".

Is it any wonder that there would be a backlash against this trend? A backlash against being told what you can and cannot say? Any wonder that people that are being referred to as "Racist country-bumpkins", by many of the same people that are trying to enforce this language control, would fight back? "Live free or die" is the most popular state motto in the USA for a reason.

"Are you seriously defending this bigotry?! You're defending sexism and racism and all this crap?"

No, No I'm really not. But I am from the school of thought that people should be given chances to fuck up and learn. Make mistakes and grow. That convincing is better than bullying. Uncomfortable truths are better than lies. I believe intent and context matters.

I'd be the first to verbally destroy someone who is legitimately insists on being a racist or a sexist or a bigot, but I'm not going to go after someone that innocently makes a bad joke, I'm not going to go after someone that doesn't know better and never had a chance to learn.

And if you still think your enemies are monsters, there's another problem to forcefully shutting them up; You lose the ability to tell what they're thinking.

Enough about the people, what about...

The Establishment

Before you roll your eyes, again I ask you to hear me out.

Contrary to popular belief, most elections fall back and are decided on one central theme. Sure people care about the issues, but there's always one key issue that's the real crux of the outcome of any election. In this election it was frustration with the establishment, and yet the people that led the current (or former) establishment were the most blind to it.

Did you know that Congress approval rate in the US hasn't gone above 25% in the last five years? Approval rating hasn't gone above 50% since 2003.

Not to mention the recent study that found that the USA is no longer a democracy but an oligarchy, has resonated with a large (and growing) number of people's beliefs.

So it makes perfect sense to go with an anti-establishment candidate right? Someone either not directly associated with the government, or who's always been a troublemaker....etc, right?

But no, Even though it was EXTREMELY clear, the DNC leadership, riding and banking on their perceived successes, insisted on rigging the system so that Hillary, someone who is perceived as establishment born and raised, would be the candidate instead.

They fell for their own echo chambers, they fell victim to their own hubris, and we're probably all going to suffer for it.

If you're in doubt, realize that Bernie won in most of the battle ground states and counties that Hillary lost to Trump.

Then there's the media. I'm not going to talk much about the fourth estate. But thanks to technological advancements it was already weakened. Trump may have dealt it a crippling blow.  But it's the media itself that shot itself in the foot, stretching too far and vindicating Trump and all his supporters (and otherwise) that believe it's crooked. Making outlandish claims is one thing, making outlandish claims and being proven right? That can have consequences. Once again, Trump's supporters decided to raise a giant middle finger.

We're fucked aren't we?

"Fine fine, you've told us why you think we're all to blame. But what do we do now? We're fucked aren't we?

Well frankly, I haven't had the best success rate when optimistic, and tend to have a higher success rate when pessimistic, So I'm not sure how much what I say here will matter. So let's go at this both ways ok?

The Scary;

The last few administrations and governments have been setting up a recipe for disaster (Read the entire thread), that Trump will thrive in. It reminds me to the machinations of Anwar ElSadat in modifying the Egyptian constitution to solidify power, only to get whacked and have Mubarak reap all the benefits. In fact, the amount of parallels to Egypt in this election is frankly alarming. 

To make matters worse, Trump as president, Republican majority in Congress and Senate, and a potentially tie-breaking vacancy on the supreme court that will be filled by Trump's nomination, does mean Trump will enjoy quite a bit of power. 

Furthermore, it's not just the USA that's concerning; when Populist/Nationalist movements spread globally, they tend to foreshadow really really bad things. 

And they are spreading. The USA is just the latest country to head in that direction. The middle east, Philippines, Europe, large parts of Asia, Russia, and the list goes on. I know it has a shitload of shortcomings, but Globalism actually does tend to reduce head on conflict, Although the situation with China MIGHT be an exception to the rule

The hope:

Even with their big gains, Republicans actually lost two seats in the Senate, and Democrats gained two, with two independents.  Yes Republicans are a majority, but not a super majority.

What about the House? Well, Again Republicans lost 6 seats and the Democrats gained 5. 

"But they're still the majority! They control everything! What does it matter?!"

It matters, because yes, it does mean that Republicans can force through more laws than they previously, but remember two things; One, there are multiple factions within each party, and Libertarian minded republicans are more likely to side with the Dems on some issues than they are to side with their own party. Two, well.. Trump's own party doesn't really seem to like him much. Although in realpolitik, who gives a shit what you like. 

Of course, Democrats if motivated enough, could probably play spoiler, Much like Republicans before them.

Hell, It looks like the DNC MAY have finally gotten the kick in the butt it needs to shake things up. We might see some of the more "relate-able" factions of the DNC gain power.

At risk of sounding cheesy, There's only one bulwark against fascism, and that's you. Stay vigilant and be willing to fight, and it will never take hold.

Falter, and focus on fucking bullshit like Kim Kardashian instead of the laws that regularly get slipped through on bills, Gerrymandering, and all the other bullshit that happens (You know, the shit that's been happening for decades now) and we're all well and truly fucked. The entire globe mind you.

On second thought, I may as well just shoot myself.

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