Okay people, this is not a drill. Barring a miracle from Trump’s equally as childish contenders, he will be one of two realistic options for president this November. Let’s stop pretending this is just a peculiar threat. This attitude has allowed him to come this far, so it will only open the door wider for him to take the next step. Let’s also drop the idea that Republicans are just insane, because I don’t buy that either. This didn’t come out of the blue. Trump’s ascent was long in the making, and I think us, the ones who fear him so much, are partly to blame.
Minestrone, Irish Stew, and Gumbo are three traditional plates from three very different cultures. However, they share the common characteristic of combining a wide array of ingredients into one vessel and making music as a whole. What makes these three plates, and others like them, so amazing is that you can distinguish different ingredients from one another, though a bite containing all of them trumps(intended) eating them on their own. Gumbo, for example, is comprised of spicy andouille sausage, crisp vegetables, briny shrimp, and other ingredients that alone are tasty. But when joined together into a pot of Louisiana’s culinary staple, you get a reason to build restaurants.
The other thing that makes these dishes similar is how careful you have to be with them. There is a very fine line between cooking them into a perfect dish of cooperative vegetables and proteins and blasting it into a confusing mess. Any of these dishes is essentially ruined when kept on the heat too long. Vegetables begin to mush, meats soften into oblivion, and you’re essentially left with a pot of sauce. As someone who thoroughly enjoys cooking, I can tell you from experience, do NOT overcook these plates.
Many Trump supporters claim that they want someone to take America back to greatness. Admittedly, some of these people make this declaration ignorantly, in the “MERICA, F&%K YEAH!” way, but I understand the notion. It’s human nature to look into the past and remember the good and forget the bad. Some probably look first to the financial stability of the 80s and 90s, others to times of being the unequivocal cultural and military pinnacle of the world. Many say liberalism has ruined schools and freedom of religion has spoiled our values. I don’t want to argue with any of these because, for the record, I’m feeling the Bern, so let’s not open that can of worms. But there is one thing I would like to see a return to, and it’s something that Trump emphasizes, albeit in the most brash way.
One of America’s cultural signatures was the celebrated metaphor of the “melting pot,” referring to the incredible diversity within our borders. A haven for people all over the world, we became home to immigrants from all over, and this was passed on from generations. This phenomenon is the reason why Americans have the unique tendency to say things like “I’m half-Italian, a quarter German, and a quarter Spanish.” (For the record, everyone else in the world would likely say “No… You’re from the United States.”) This metaphor applied very accurately for decades until just recently. Because now we’re overcooking it.
Do not get me wrong; I do not believe we need to go back in time culturally. Our melting pot identity, although beautiful, did not account for things like systemic racism and deep-seated xenophobia. These were and are very much huge problems that I do not deny. Thankfully, people started recognizing these as many suffered the consequences and started fighting to make changes. This, I believe, is perhaps what spawned “political correctness.” And political correctness is, in my mind, is what is overcooking our melting pot.
It comes from a good place, political correctness, especially in cases like trying to remove offensive names from NFL franchises (the Redskins are still a professional sports team). However, I think we have run so far with this idea that we have become hyper-sensitive. Political correctness has taken us to a place where we are afraid to identify anybody by anything other than their personality.
This was one of the many things I admired about the culture in Colombia, where I spent two years there with the Peace Corps. Early on in my service I was introduced to some kids with whom I would be playing soccer, one of whom they called “Negro.” I refused to call a kid “Black,” because my mind was trained to think that identifying someone by their physical traits is wrong. Through prodding he eventually told me his name was Eduardo, and that was what he became to me. After months and years of living there, and witnessing families all over the country do this, I started to accept their claims that they “say it with love.” Eduardo was by far the darkest member of his family, so they lovingly gave him a suitable nickname. They did the same with Flaco (skinny) and Mona (blonde), simply because these were their most obvious characteristics, and they meant it as no more. Colombians don’t really know what politically correct is, because they don’t let innocent observations offend.
Trump is so not politically correct that grammar stopped caring and let him be deemed apolitically incorrect. His racist remarks are so shocking that they could be construed as entertaining (perhaps I only say this because I’m white). And when you see funny videos on late night shows of what people find so appealing about Trump, you’ll frequently hear that “he speaks his mind.”
If this is true, what his on his mind is totally whacked and amoral. However, they’re onto something here. Politics has become a delicate game of seeing who can be politically correct the longest. In most cases we look at politicians and wonder is really behind these perfect facades. This goes on until something happens like John Edwards cheats on his wife or we find out Rick Perry owns a place called “Niggerhead Ranch.” With Trump, we don’t have to guess. We know the guy is a racist because he says it. And in a way, I prefer that. The devil we know is better than the one we don’t.
So while Trump might be the craziest thing we’ve seen in politics in our lifetimes, I believe the social climate is just as much in play as the political. If you look at Trump’s policies, they’re so underdeveloped that he’s not even really focusing on them. He knows his crowd and glosses over what they want to hear, and then he’d throw in a comment about Rubio sweating and get a rise out of him. If this weren’t for a presidential nomination, even I would be entertained by that.
But Donald Trump really will be printed as one of the two top names on your presidential ballot. I believe that’s because he’s reminding us of one of the truly great characteristics of the States: we’re all different in a way. He’s doing it in a very ugly way, but he is doing it. So, first things first, let’s all vote against him, and second, let’s celebrate our differences in a positive way instead of ignoring them because it’s politically correct.