To Trump or not to Trump
I worked for over thirty years in the political arena of WNY. Many of those years were spent battling in the super-heated contests of local elections, where family and friends were often at odds with one another. Feelings and emotions ran high until election day. After that, there was usually a settling in period, where feelings returned to near normal. After all, people have lives to live, job to go to and family to care for. That is the real world to most of us.
After this current Presidential election though, things are different. We have factionalized into at least two societies in this country. One is a determined Pro-Trump faction who listens to no one, other than the Tweeter in chief. What he says is gospel. He is their guy and headed, in their opinion, in the right direction. They are decent Americans who see things a certain way. Many are friends and former colleagues of mine. They are individuals of probity and intelligence who have opted to support Donald Trump. They see something different than I do. They are most certainly entitled to their opinions in this and all elections.
And then, there are the rest of us. We don’t see “The Donald” as a solution to anything. We find his attitudes, his tweets and his peculiar approach to governing as antithetical to what we understand as an America, blessed with Constitutional values that protect all of its citizens, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or place of national origin. Not all of our ancestors can be from Norway. Not all of us can be wealthy. But what we all do need is leadership on a national level and we feel we are not getting it.
Legions of Trump supporters daily traduce the worth of others who do not share their values. I feel it more intensely here in Florida. Hereabouts, feelings are similar in mood to that found in the Alpine villages of the thirties. Anyone not drinking the cool aid here is scorned and shunned in all things social. We are seen as the “enemy” and treated with hostility. One woman, at a pool party, actually came and dragged her nephew away from us, lest he be contaminated with improper thought.
“Liberals” seems to be the current derogatory term to describe anyone not supporting Trump. Even though many of us are both Republican and somewhat conservative in our political views. It got me to thinking. What is a liberal anyways? The Wikopedia definition defines it thusly:
Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems, and the separation of church and state, right to due process, and equality under the law are widely accepted as a common foundation across the spectrum of liberal thought.
This is evil? To me, it sounds like the philosophy of our founding fathers, who put everything they had on the line to help secure our individual liberties. But, everyone sees politics in a different way. The fable of six sight-challenged people touching an elephant and then giving six wildly disparate descriptions of “what an elephant is” comes to mind.
What I find most pernicious about some of the current thought behind “Trumpism” is that much of the rhetoric seems to be founded on antipathy towards minorities who don’t fit into the homogeneous mold of the Trump base of support. I once characterized Trump’s elections as the “Last gasp of white America.” It still seems that way to me now, even a year later.
Throughout our history, we have had similar restrictive political movements. The “No Nothing Party,” “America Firsters” and other philosophies, now relegated to the dust bin of history, held hostile feelings towards all immigrants, especially Catholics and Jews. They were seen as evil, foreign influences and undesirable aliens. The Irish, in particular, were deemed stupid, drunken trash who came from a “shithole” country and added nothing of value to America. The feeling persisted in America until well into the 1960’s. It was then that the newly elected President John Fitzgerald Kennedy helped change American perceptions towards “The Irish.” His Catholicism was a much-debated issue in the election.
Perhaps, it will take another hundred years to erase all of the hostility towards minorities in America. But, it will happen. Census population projections predict a majority population of Blacks and Hispanics in America, in the next fifty years. Hopefully, in their upward surge and eventual numerical supremacy, current minorities will be kinder and more understanding towards people of “no color.” “What comes around, goes around” is a popular political aphorism.
Until that times, I hope both sides, of this great political divide, cut each other a little slack. One of the great wonders of our American Democracy is that we are able to say what we wish, and vote for whom we choose, without fear of official reprisal. This still isn’t true for a great deal of the world’s population. And as for the social ramifications of supporting one side or the other? I say, “bring it on!” I survived and prospered in one of the harshest, most contentious political climates in America, for over thirty years. I always said what I felt and voted for whomever I thought best qualified for the office. I do not now, nor have I ever backed down from disapproving people who didn’t like my political views. I don’t expect anyone else to back down either. Elections and office holders come and go. In life, I have always been more comfortable in the company of people who are kind enough to treat everyone around them with the same compassion and decency that we were taught by the goodly nuns, steeped in the philosophies of Jesus of Nazareth.
So, support whomever you choose, for political office, but be mindful of the values that make this country great. Too many young men and women have died, supporting those ideals, to take them lightly.
Joseph Xavier Martin