Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The REALLY Important Debates Are Not On CNN

There are times when I seem to lose my zeal for political posts here on the blog.  But the zeal always seems to pop up somewhere...if not here, then on Facebook.  I thought I had been endeavoring, since my last post here, to dwell less in the negative political space  Facebook provides.  But I just can't seem to completely cut myself free...

In any case, today I found myself commenting on the post of a friend who normally does not post about American political issues...chiefly because he isn't American.  And he doesn't live in the US.  But I accept that American political traumas are news all over the world, and Europeans are entitled to have opinions about them.  So it wasn't because I thought my friend had no right to speak that I commented...it was because I thought his assertion needed rebuttal.

The exchange served to clarify--for me, at least--some points pursuant to my fervent aversion to Donald Trump, among other things.  So rather than go the hard route of trying to craft those comments into a legitimate blog post, I'll just regurgitate the conversation, verbatim:

Original Poster:  Donald Trump, I agree, has a mouth too large for his brain.  However.  His popularity indicates that he is talking about issues and feelings among the electorate that other politicians are not prepared to tackle.  In other words, there are problems in American society which mainstream politics are not addressing adequately, in the views of a lot of people.  Listen to him, he has a voice and is entitled to be heard.  Discard the bullshit, extract the underlying message--and get someone to take on those problems.  He'll soon fade away into his billions.

Me:  [Friend,] Donald Trump's "voice" is one that American society does not need to heed or encourage.  Trump is a "shock jock."  Like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh, Trump is popular because he says wildly inappropriate things that most people are too polite or respectful to utter out loud.  There is a certain amout of the frustration and anger of an increasingly disenfranchised and economically oppressed electorate to which he and his ilk have given voice, which unfortunately, over the years, has caused anger, meanness, xenophobia and aggression to become fashionable in this country.  It's bad enough that we have had to put up with that crap from media personalities.  It has already poisoned  state legislatures and our national Congress.  We cannot allow it to poison the presidency as well.  This election will be the last stand of decency and respect in the US.  It's important that Trump be seen for what he is--a blowhard charlatan interested in absolutely nothing but Donald Trump.

Me Again:  And Bernie Sanders has as many or more followers than Donald Trump.  He, too, is talking about issues--PROGRESSIVE issues--that resonate with voters all over the US, but he gets about 1/10th the media coverage Donald Trump does.  So it's really not about who is giving voice to the desires of the American people, it's about which voice the media are giving the biggest bullhorn.

Original Poster:  It's the money that talks.

Me:  ...and "the money" is SO not representative of the voice of the majority of the American people. 

Original Poster:  It's been put to me that the candidate with the deepest pockets stands the biggest chance of winning, irrespective of their political alignment.

Me:  The "deep pockets" believe that, [Friend]...and they want everyone else to believe it, too.  But Bernie Sanders is enjoying astonishing success, without any Super-Pac corporate donors...whereas the darling of the Koch brothers--Wisconsin's Scott Walker--dropped out of the field early, with hardly a whimper.  I won't say that big money has lost all its power in American politics, but the voters are beginning to wise up and demand their voices be heard. 

Second Commenter:  I completely agree with you [Friend].  He may be a loudmouth and he may be a lot of other things that people don't like but he makes a lot of sense in some matters.  It's funny that most people that trash one particular candidate can't seem to come up with a better choice.  Could be because there aren't any.

Me:  Seriously?

Second Commenter:  I didn't say he would make a good president.  I said he had important things to say that need to be heard.  I'm entitled to my opinion just like you are yours.

Original Poster:  As I said in my post, you have to read between the lines with Trump.  His lines are populist bombast--there was a Scottish politician like that in recent years, and his chickens are slowly coming home to roost.  

Me: You [referring to Second Commenter] said those who trash Trump can't come up with a better choice.  I named one in my previous comment.  In fact, among the crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls, there are only one or two that WOULDN'T be a better choice than Trump.  Many people are of that opinion.  To which we are entitled.

Second Commenter:  I sent my post before I read your second comment.  I'm speaking of the dozens of others I have seen trash Trump and other candidates and not come up with anything better.  If you made a suggestion of a better candidate, then apparently I was not addressing you.  I like Bernie Sanders.  I still don't know if he would make a good president though.  Personally I don't like any of the candidates for president.  But if we don't do something quick we're going to be the next third world country.  We already owe our soul to China.

Second Commenter:  And I didn't say all people who trash other candidates, I said most.  Just wanted to clarify that.

Me:  Clarification noted.  :)

Third Commenter:  I don't like Donald Trump and would never vote for him, but what you're saying is correct, [Friend.]  I have said all along that he is touching upon something that Americans see is a problem or he would NEVER be able to get that many followers.  Most of them know that what he is saying is crass and wrong...but somewhere in the middle of all his hate is a kernel of truth for what is going on in America and they are grasping on to it.  I, too, advise candidates to start listening a bit more to what he is saying instead of writing him off as the joke that he is...that joke is reaching people.

Me:  ...and that kernel of truth would be...?  He lies so much, that would be nearly impossible to determine. 
And I'm desperately afraid that the "kernel of truth" is that people tend to want to indulge their hatreds, phobias and prejudices, and they will gather in large crowds to support a public figure who gives them carte blanche to do so.  This does nothing to improve the lives of Americans...it only gives them permission to inhabit a very dark place.

Third Commenter:  That's up to each voter to decide for themselves.  It may not be your truth, but obviously it is to many, many, many, people or he wouldn't be where he is...that's just common sense.

Me:  There is no such thing as "my truth" or "your truth"  Truth is truth.  Fact is fact.  And the sad fact is, we in this country have decided that if something sounds good to us, it must be true.  There is SO much noise out there, and absolutely no standard of truth anymore in the media.  We have begun to choose our own realities, because there IS no truth out there.  And we are paying a high, high price for that choice.

Third Commenter:  Wow.  What I believe to be truth may be something you don't believe, so there is a "my truth" and "your truth," it happens every day in every home in America where we raise our children under values WE believe to be true...other people raise theirs completely different.  I really am not going to debate this issue with you so this will be my last comment...I was just supporting [Friend's] opinion, which he is allowed to have and I'm allowed to agree with.  No one here said they supported Donald Trump...so I'm not sure why our opinions of why we think others do is such a big deal.

Me:  It's a big deal because the problem is complex and debate is essential.  And when someone suggests that there must be something valid about what Trump says because so many people are backing him, I feel compelled to argue the point.

Me again:  Incidentally what you describe in your last comment are beliefs.  "Truth" and "belief" are not interchangeable.  I may BELIEVE, for example, that the white race is superior, but my belief doesn't make it true...

I leave it up to you, readers, to judge if my comments were bombastic enough to elicit the obviously huffy responses I received from the other 2 commenters.  I didn't think so...but I have a way of being blind to my own obnoxiousness, and I fail miserably at dumbing down my earnest opinions so that they come off as less...fervent.

I think what bothered me the most about this is that the two ladies with whom I had exchanges are the type of voters who really SHOULD get involved in debates about the merits of different candidates and their points of view, but they obviously view the discourse--even this relatively benign example--with distaste...as if arguing these points is somehow beneath them. 

Ladies, don't be put off by the words of someone who has obviously spent a lot of time and energy forming opinions about the subject.  YOUR opinions are as valid as anyone else's.  Don't be rude.  Don't call names.  Don't get hurt or huffy.

Just think about the issue and speak your mind.  Don't back off. 

We will all benefit from it.      

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been posting, partly health reasons and frankly, what's new to say. What can you say about Trump that we haven't said about Rushbo or Beck.I guess I'm just tired and am getting better but it's slow. Too bad I missed seeing you guys over the holidays.