Who are we as a country and society?
That is the question all of us need to ask of ourselves after the latest embarrassment delivered by a seventy year old man with a fake tan, dyed blonde hair, and a penchant for birther conspiracy theories. Last week, in case you missed it or still believe climate change is a hoax, DJT announced that the U.S. will be backing out of the Paris Climate Accord. This decision comes against the advice of almost all world leaders, scientists, past presidents, business leaders, and more than half of the people he is supposed to represent. Relying on faulty data, skewed facts, and a keen misunderstanding regarding our changing environment, he has removed us, largely against our will, as a leader in clean energy innovation to a now disjointed backwater nation that refuses to believe in science. With that being said, I again ask, “Who are we?”
If you were born before the mid-eighties, you most likely remember a world borne out of an absolute. Capitalism is good and communism is bad. Such a simple concept was ingrained into my childhood, watching movies such as War Games, Red Dawn, or even Rocky IV, where our avatars of societal ideology literally battle for dominance. I remember reading Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World, with each story serving as parable to the evils of a society outside of the status quo, where financial gain and individuality took a back seat to communal gain and groupthink. In this country there was always the underlying promise that if we, as children, worked hard in school and then later in life, there was a world of opportunity available to us. In Soviet Russia, we were taught, there was no such opportunity, as citizens striving to support one another through socialist institutions would be trapped in financial servitude and exploited by the few who held all the power and wealth. Out of this “us vs. them” construct everything was measured and judged. Out of this absolute we have become a funhouse mirror version of what we were promised. Out of this dichotomy we regretfully have this president.
It is easy to despise Donald Trump. Some, like myself, make a sport of such acute dislike. It is easy to grow increasingly embarrassed, frustrated, and baffled each passing day, with each passing misstep and dare to democracy. What isn’t easy? Looking in the mirror and realizing that he is borne out of our society and out of the bastardization of capitalism. DJT is the product of our society and the answer to the question, “What if Gordon Gekko had a stroke and then was elected president?” My point is, whether we like it or not, he grew from our culture and that is why some still stand with him. Can we really be surprised when this man values his own individuality and selfish pursuits at the expense of others?
Absolutes beget absolutes. We are taught that only our ideology and culture is the best, with the implication that any other way of thinking is less desirable. We parrot slogans that tout our country as the best in the world, regardless of statistics and history. We live in a culture where fear is commoditized and sold on your news feed. This fear comes from a lack of understanding or the apathy of not wanting to. If you’ve never visited another country, much less another state, this concept may be alien and foreign. So for those who continue to believe this presidency to be normal and are not bothered by the standard of vitriol now championed by this irrational man, I say the world does not exist in absolutes and does not progress out of hate.