I’m Too Depressed to Write About Donald Trump’s Hate and Ignorance
I really want to write something about Donald Trump. I want to write about the hate that seems to permeate every utterance. I want to write about his utter disregard for truth or accuracy and his belief that if he says something happened, then it must be thus. I want to write about the narcissism that seems to run at the core of his entire persona. I want to write about his pandering to the most xenophobic, nativist, racist parts of our society in his quest for the ultimate victory for his ego. I want to write about the way he is throwing jet fuel on the powder keg of racial and religious tensions that have boiled to the surface in recent years.
And I want to write about the Americans who endorse his messages of hate, cheer his ignorance and lies, and feed off the fear and anger that Trump stokes.
But I can’t. The very idea of recounting his numerous lies, examining the way he categorizes and denigrates groups of people on the basis of discrete characteristics, stereotypes, or prejudices, or discussing the way he is tearing at the seams that delicately hold the fabric of our society together leaves me depressed. Seriously depressed. I’ve spent nearly eight years writing this blog, writing about our need for civility, about our need to work together, about our need to solve problems and treat one another with respect. I’ve been writing about our need to put aside prejudice and bigotry and to respect diversity and those different from us. And it looked like things were, at least in some small respects, getting better.
And then came Donald Trump and the groundswell of Americans who have gravitated to his views, buoyed by his hateful, xenophobic rhetoric that is devoid of any substance beyond fear and loathing. And hate. Pure, unadulterated hate driven, I’m sure, by fear. Hate and fear.
I find myself almost too paralyzed to address the things that Trump is saying or the damage that he is causing.
So, rather than focus on Trump, I’ll focus, instead, on We the People and what we have at stake.
We’ve worked, collectively as a society, for many, many years, trying to realize this more perfect union of ours. We’ve had a lot of successes mixed in with some failures. And it’s taken us a long time, through painful experiences, just to get to where we are now. We have a long way to go but we should be rightly proud of what we have achieved over these last two hundred and (almost) forty years.
But now it’s time to look at the bigger picture and to think about what voices and ideas like those expressed by Trump really mean for our country and the society that we’ve worked to build.
At some point, this isn’t about tax policy or marriage equality; it isn’t about black lives mattering or reproductive choice; it isn’t about gun control or religious freedom; it isn’t about prayer in schools or funding for the arts. It isn’t about Social Security, Obamacare, or No Child Left Behind. No. At some point, it’s about America. It’s about what it means when we say “America”. It’s about what it means when we feel that tingle of pride at the first bars of The Star Spangled Banner or the sight of an Olympic athlete proudly wrapped in the American flag. At some point, our politics and our civic discourse can no longer be about the issues that divide us and about which we’ve spent so much time arguing. At some point, we have to take a step back and do all we can to rescue the idea of the America envisioned by the Founding Fathers when they drafted the Constitution and adopted the Bill of Rights, the idea of America that prevailed after four years of bloody civil war, the idea of America for which an underclass of people were willing to take to the streets and risk their lives, the idea of America that has drawn immigrants and refugees from long before the Statue of Liberty shined her light of welcome.
Donald Trump’s hate is the clear demarcation line showing that we’ve reached that point. It’s time to recapture the idea of America from demagogues like Trump. It’s time to recapture the idea of an America in which competing ideas can be discussed civilly and in which the notion of a melting pot, of e pluribus unum, is celebrated. It’s time to put hate and fear aside in favor of efforts to make friends across barriers and to take the time to learn about others who may be different than we are. We can disagree on policies but recognize that we are all Americans who value the concept of America. We can disagree on those policies but learn to discuss them without hate or rancor, without viewing those with whom we disagree as the enemy or intent to destroy the idea of America.
It’s time to take America back from those for whom hate, xenophobia, and intolerance are values. It’s time to take America back to it’s core as the land of the free and the home of the brave where all men — and women — are created equally. And treated equally, too. The land that recognizes liberty and justice for all. A land that has no use for ideologies premised on hate, fear, and lies, such as those expressed by the likes of Donald Trump.
Update: Before this post went live, I came across an editorial cartoon that struck a chord. I’m usually not a fan of Gary Varvel, editorial cartoonist for The Indianapolis Star, but with his image “Trump’s New Motto”, I think that Varvel got it just right.