It’s an interesting time in America. We’re facing our demons as a nation right now, and this can make for an unstable and sometimes frightening situation on the ground. For instance, hating people of color and women is now an acceptable form of protest. The Donald has released the masses to take vile language and behavior to a new national low.
Sadly, this problem is here to stay. Whoever ends up in the White House will be vilified and hated, just as Obama is and Bush before him. Therefore, we’ve already lost. We lost because we no longer know how to be kind to strangers, or even to friends should they dare to disagree.
Our insistence on inflexible political identities, fueled by an unconscious and unregulated media, is dividing us more efficiently than ever before. If members of the professional media will not help clarify the facts and tell the truth, our center of gravity is unmoored. Our democracy, if we dare call it that, is floating on a sea of lies, and that’s a precarious situation if there ever was one.
Willful Ignorance Is The Ultimate Culture Jam
President Obama recently said, “When our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, when actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem.”
Yes, and the problem is a pox on the American house. When facts fail to match up with one’s worldview, the facts too often get tossed aside. What else do we lose with the discarding of reason? In my view, we lose the nation. We can’t successfully manage a complicated multi-cultural society with this kind of anti-intellectual hostility in the air.
It’s clear that our lack of investment in education is now a massive issue, as too many people lack both curiosity and knowledge.
- Did you know that the U.S. ranked 16th out of 23 countries in literacy proficiency, 21st in numeracy proficiency and 14th in problem-solving in technology-rich environments?
- Did you know that 32,000,000 Americans can’t read?
- Did you know that 42% of college graduates don’t plan to read another book after graduation?
Funny how the stats above do nothing to support the idea of American exceptionalism. That concept is dying fast, especially as the rest of the world looks in on our Presidential race in horror. What’s horrible to me is the fact that this election may not be decided on merit. We live in a culture addicted to TV and other forms of media. Whoever entertains the audience best, wins. And no politician can touch The Donald on this.
I know people are going to fight this idea and refuse to believe Trump could soon be President. That’s the real danger, that we don’t take him or his run for office seriously. As a media professional, I see how he can win. Do you think Hillary will turn on the charm and compete in this reality program? Not going to happen. Which means people will be left to choose between a seasoned policy wonk and a TV-savvy showman.
Hillary is a smart, practical, problem-solver. She makes great policy, but lousy television. Which is frightening, because policy, while the backbone of governing, isn’t something that moves people at the ballot box.
Thankfully, the Numbers Point to Support for Diversity and Inclusion
Nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day (31%) will be Hispanic, black, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority.
I’m far from a data freak, but this particular data point is the most comforting thing I’ve read in weeks. Whatever your political POV, the numbers do not lie and the numbers are squarely on the side of inclusion and diversity.
To win the White House, The Donald will need to secure every Republican’s vote, which is highly unlikely. He will also need to win a majority of independents, as 43% of the nation’s eligible voters are not affiliated with a political party. In short, there are not enough Republican voters for any candidate from that decaying party to win a national election. You appeal to the middle or you lose.
Winning either party’s nomination requires niche marketing. Winning the White House requires mass appeal across a wide demographic swath of voters. Trump used reality TV tactics to gain the nomination, but his made-for-TV sensationalism won’t be sensational forever. In fact, the sting of his comments is weakening by the day, as more and more people conclude that Trump is a danger precisely because he’s a fraud. He may also be a fascist intent on authoritarian rule, but, for now, that’s mostly a fantasy he shares with his racist, xenophobic, homophobic and sexist friends.
More Local Action And Extra Doses of Compassion
One of the biggest stories of the political season is how little things are truly changing at the state and local level. The nation might be ready for a new administration in the White House, but the desire seems to end there.
The reality is just one incumbent in Congress—Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.)—lost his or her primary race this year. Just one, and he is indicted on bribery and money laundering charges.
Politics, despite the media parade at the top, is entrenched. From the left and the right, people are clamoring for change and it seems unlikely that the change is coming. This fact, more than any other, is disturbing to me. All the Presidential candidates promise a vision of America that won’t happen because their vision requires compromise, and negotiating difficult legislation (like gun control) through the muck of the Capitol. It’s an explosive situation because people of every political stripe are looking for answers right now, and the answers people need are unlikely to come from Washington, DC or from anyone on television.
Working for change is something we all need to take responsibility for. Maybe, we run for local office, volunteer our time in the community or simply spend more time in the community garden (helping to feed people!). Whatever it is that helps us maintain our balance, I think we are all going to be called on to reach deeper into our hearts and remember that political enemies are also fellow Americans and quite literally our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Let’s commit to a deeper degree of personal patience and remember to express gratitude for the fact that civil debate and peaceful elections are the American way.
The scary fact is two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency. This says all there is to know about conditions on the ground. The majority of people are scared and in many cases justifiably angry. The billionaire class has moved manufacturing offshore and their untaxed profits too. Meanwhile, the people of Flint, Michigan are being poisoned with tainted water and the poor, black children of Chicago live in a war zone. At the same time, we’re finding new cures for cancer, discovering signs of life on Mars and making beautiful music, literature, food and so on. Dark and light dance. As things fall apart, we work to replace them with even better solutions. It doesn’t mean everything new is necessarily better, it means there’s always room for improvement and that collectively we can raise the bar on education, infrastructure, and common decency.
It’s far from time to “Make America Great Again,” rather it’s high time to help Americans believe in themselves and in each other again. It’s time to stop bitching and start pitching in.