It’s an unmistakeable trend in conservative political commentary to assert that Trump is merely the answer to Obama. Some of these folks simply hated Obama and couldn’t get rid of him, and now they like to say it’s progressives’ time to suffer the same. Unfortunately, claiming that the Obama era was just as sufferable for conservatives as is the Trump era for progressives indicates a mind-baffling disconnection from reality. One may not have liked Obama’s policies, but policy alone is not the problem here. Trump and Obama are not equal and opposite political forces. No. The unending corruption-quagmire that is @realDonaldTrump is not limited to policy differences. It is preeminently a character issue and rejection and re-labeling of reality as “fake news.” It is utter contempt for truth, honesty, integrity, transparency and humility. It is plain, self-serving corruption. It is a willingness to say anything and then cheat the very people who so easily believed his words and voted for him. No. In order for him to be a worthy and equally potent “answer” to Obama, Trump would have to be intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, honest, and have at least a modicum of integrity irrespective of political differences. In that sense, Obama and Trump are not equal political opposites. At all. Of course a person can believe that former President Obama is of a similar deplorable intelligence and character as Trump, but making such claims requires more than simplistic accusations and feelings. It requires evidence of equal weight and quantity, and it is incumbent upon political conservatives to support their claims if they want critical thinkers to take them seriously. I don’t think conservatives can (or that most would even dare to try), but of course I remain committed to following the best evidence wherever it leads.
Unfortunately, Trump is not the source of the rot in present American politics. He is a symptom. Trump merely (and successfully) tapped into an issue that has been brewing in the United States. People who voted for Trump are the source of this problem, especially those who still uncritically support him and construct mindless arguments to excuse him. The problem is an ongoing willingness of any voter to give Trump a pass on his behavior, language, and character. People who have happily sacrificed truth and justice when it doesn’t suit their purposes and desires are the problem. People who fail to think critically about narratives which play into their fears, prejudices, greed, and political loyalties are the problem. People whose entire defense of Trump consists of pivoting towards Hillary, or Obama, or Al Gore, or Nancy Pelosi, or liberals… these people are the problem.
If we, both as a nation and as individuals, actually want to become “great,” it absolutely requires a renewed, serious, and unlimited commitment to truth, integrity, and accountability for ourselves and our President (as well as all offices and branches of power that govern us). It requires that we take responsibility for our own poor choices, gullibility, and prejudices, and that we work hard to correct them. It requires that we recognize and reject the fallacy of false equivalency or the belief that opposing viewpoints are equally valid, even if one side is objectively true and the other is not. It is past time for us, both collectively and as individuals, to decide that we are going to grow up, take responsibility for the problems WE have created (or at least enabled), call them out, and fix them.
Given the current state of affairs, willful ignorance, and electoral tribalism, I have almost no hope that we will be able to do that. Ultimately, I can only take responsibility for my own behavior (and I will continue to do just that to the best of my ability), but I hope that others will join me in a rejection of political insanity and delusion. At present (and at voting time), that requires a rejection of Donald Trump and any other candidate of any party who preys on our willingness to trash reality, truth, and integrity for political power. Trump is merely a symptom of the problem that is us. We must do better.