US Politics

Schoolyard mentality in politics needs to stop

Stop bringing up other people’s issues cos you can’t *actually* defend Trump

By Elizabeth Lesman

On 8 November 2016, Donald J. Trump won the United States presidential election.  On 9 November 2016, people started to complain, and the criticism continues through today. The way things are going, the criticism isn’t going to go anywhere any time soon.

Trump won his presidency through an antiquated electoral system which mostly ignores the popular vote.  After all, if it wasn’t for “winner take all” electoral votes (48 out of 50 states practice this policy), Hillary Clinton would have in fact become the 45th president.

Setting aside the Electoral College though, there is a constantly enlarging pile of personal and political causes for condemnation.

Donald Trump is a man who, through the power of money, has never been taught to account for his own actions.  His entire life prior to the presidency, and clearly continuing into it, has been comprised of people willing to cater to his whims. Those unwilling to do so are simply pushed out.

Any man with a public history of serial sexual assault and harassment allegations, who has been recorded on video tape bragging about it yet who is still elected to the highest office in the United States deserves every amount of criticism thrown at him.

The fact that women have to keep reminding everyone that the President of the United States publicly acknowledged making that statement is despicable.

People voted for a man who said that due to his money and celebrity he could do whatever he wanted to women and get away with it, he could “do anything … grab ‘em by the pussy.”  His own words.  Yet somehow people still managed to brush that off as supposed locker room talk, elect him, and continue to support and defend him as a respectable human being.

No, decent people don’t talk about grabbing women by the pussy.  They just don’t.

Add to that his constant barrage on any news organization or individual person who criticizes him, as if by becoming POTUS he is suddenly above criticism and public scrutiny.  By running for, winning, and accepting the presidency, Trump opened himself up even further for public appraisal.  If he at any time entertained the idea that this wouldn’t happen, he is, at best, ridiculously naïve.

This is a man who will tell anyone what he thinks they want to hear.  He will insult his nation’s allies one day and cozy up to them the next.  His administration will make a public statement about a given topic, and then he personally contradicts that statement within a matter of days, sometimes even hours.

He lies about everything.  Now, all politicians lie – sometimes unwittingly and sometimes purposefully.  That’s a given.  Yet no one has seen this level of compulsivity in terms of presidential falsehoods; Donald Trump is currently averaging over five lies a day during his presidency.  By mid-November, he had been caught out in 1,628 lies.  Just think about the scope of that.

Practically every single person he has appointed to a governmental position has been chosen for the sole purpose of destroying the credibility of their office and demolishing their agencies.

He has made statements and created, or supported, policies which endanger Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, women, low income Americans, the American middle class, elderly, the disabled population and the environment.  That’s just off the top of my head.

Not to mention the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, interference which is a fact established by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies yet which the president has denied, has tried to blame elsewhere than Russia, and has tried to minimize as unimportant to national security.

Whenever news articles about President Trump and his administration are released, the comments begin pouring in and discussion ensues.  Unfortunately, school yard mentality often seems to be the rule of the day.

School yard mentality is Trump’s mentality.  This mentality says “when confronted with disapproval, fight back.  Call names.  Be as personally insulting as possible.  Argue with whatever comes into your head, even with no facts or sources to back up your claims.  When in doubt, deflect – bring up President Obama or Hillary Clinton or any other topic that manipulates the focus away from the issue at hand.”

Is this productive?  No.  Is it successful?  Sadly, a lot of the time, yes.

Regrettably, Trump’s tactics to divert criticism are repeated by his supporters.  Names are flung which instantly devolves into verbal crossfire as both sides are sucked into the act.  Accusations and information rain down while pleas for creditable sources are ignored and the production of contradicting sources is spurned as “fake news”.

The “what about Obama” or “what about Hillary” volleys are aptly aimed until discussion turns to what Obama or Hillary did or would be doing and the actual topic at hand falls behind.

Unproductive, inappropriate, and juvenile.

President Trump and his supporters shout “make America great again” from the rooftops, but they only mean their Fox News-fed, evangelical-leaning, fact-free, white-bread version of America.

If you can’t back up your opinion with facts from a reputable site (for both sides of the equation – no, a site with the words “conservative”, “Republican”, “liberal”, or “progressive” in the name are not typically reputable), then perhaps you should do less talking and more listening.

If you can’t contemplate criticism of the current president and his administration without deflecting to a person who isn’t actually part of the current administration, then you need to really rethink your strategy and your opinions.  If you can’t discuss politics, even heatedly, without name-calling, then perhaps you shouldn’t be trying to discuss politics at all.

If you are arguing with a woman who clearly and vehemently despises Donald Trump, instead of assuming she has no grounds for being critical, say “grab ‘em by the pussy” to yourself and realize all women have reason to disrespect Donald Trump; if you can’t respect that, then admit your misogyny and move on.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions.  However, if you are asked to back up your opinion with facts and have to result to one of the above-mentioned tactics, your school yard mentality is showing.

Having an opinion and sticking to it despite criticism, opposing viewpoint, or contradictory evidence, is your right.  Nevertheless, trying to silence the opposition, criticizing the opposition simply for being the opposition, or using the ever-popular “I know you are but what am I” approach to politics, is not acceptable in adult conversation.

Just because the president has the ego, the attention span, and the rationality of a gnat (and I apologize if that is insulting to gnats) doesn’t mean everyone else has to follow his example.  School yard mentality needs to stay in the school yard, not in American political discourse.

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