American Values

I live and work with people who do not like Donald Trump. But unlike many of them, I do not hate Donald Trump. I don’t like his attitude, his bravado, and his policies.

But more importantly, I do not believe he represents anyone but himself.

I base this on maybe an idealistic notion that people are not the backwards, slack-jawed yokels they’re made out to be by slacktivists and the media. The idea that everyone who is a registered voter of the Republican party is a secret racist is a logical fallacy, and guilt-by-association. I highly dislike that sort of thing because if we’re to be this enlightened society progressives envision, they’re going to eventually have to accept that other people hold different opinions than they do. It’s been my observation, that the “simple-minded folk” aren’t the ones starting all these controversies we read about on clickbait social media. It’s usually these armchair activists who poison the well to immediately polarize the situation.

And that’s what politics is, really. The second-deepest form of polarization to religion. The second form of deep identification for many people. Because any common-sense person with a healthy dose of skepticism and a willingness to alter their beliefs will not succumb to polarizing identity politics. They will simply discuss the topics and arrive at a mutual compromise. Another person hard-up to preserve their identity will scratch and claw their way through a debate or argument and throw every sort of fallacy they can think of until they win, usually by the other person giving up and walking away. Then they will steel themselves from further discourse by blocking any and all dissenting opinions, even if it means removing their friends from social media or withdrawing from social events. Yes, as it turns out, the crazy need-for-an-identity phase people go through when they’re thirteen and listening to Linkin Park can last until they’re eighty and they’re listening to Rush Limbaugh.

But deep down, when you peel away the rhetoric, the bravado, and the need for acceptance within a group, you’ll find people who just believe in values they think will serve them, and their family through their limited life spans. It’d be one thing if we were all immortal space-beings of omnipotent power and without need for controlling others or deciding what to do with thousands of war refugees, but we’re mortal human beings who leverage form, function, and order to shape our lives. I don’t enjoy getting into political battles with people, but sometimes I have to discuss my values to others and listen to theirs. People take that freedom for granted when you consider for many other countries, you have no say in how your life goes, or how your family exists. Privilege isn’t just a lazy buzzword for the willful ignorant, it’s a cold reminder that humanity can never follow a single path, that we all follow different paths that sometimes cross each other, and how we interact with those we cross may shape the next path we follow.

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