I wrote a response to Fandango’s Provocative Question which was a clip of Don Lemon referencing and showing clips of the president’s evolutionary response to the virus. My post was regarding Trump’s behavior in general more than specifically regarding this virus. A reader, whom I consider a friend and who also happens to be a supporter of the president, commented on my post. I realized from his comment that I had used a broad stroke brush with my post and I wasn’t clear that my own opinions – as that is what they are – were more about the current leader’s character in general while using this prompt as an anchor or example.
I really appreciated the comment, first and foremost, because it was reasonable and worded diplomatically. There was nothing in the comment that was not true (except that, historian, I am not, we’ve had pandemics before so government guidelines (should) exist but every pandemic is unique, so I’ll give that). It also made me think on it…long after I read it.
I have heart felt empathy toward my friend. He supports the current president; I can’t say more than that because I don’t know more. When I submerge into my emotions about a ‘sensitive subject’ to me and envision that “subject” being ridiculed, dragged over the coals, mocked, demoralized and victimized, my blood pressure rises. I can feel myself getting angry and defensive. When I delve deeper into the layers of social problems, using my subject, when I look at areas where there is plausibility, areas that I cannot conscientiously ‘justify’ or ‘overlook’ or ‘excuse’, this is the area where the “opposition starts to make sense” or, in other words, they have a point. That’s the gray area where compromise can and should be made; this area where both parties are a little right and a little wrong. If only people were not so staunchly for or against as if all matters were black and white.
I believe President Trump is doing the best he can and that was, albeit opaque, my point about his character; blaming, deflecting, rationalizing, conflating and, yes, lying. That is who the man is…that is who he is because his whole life has been outside of the ‘norm’ and that is all he knows…and, it’s worked out well for him. Trump is not a lawyer nor a “professional” politician (he is and always was a politician at heart) so, no, he does not know what he is doing – nor should any of us have expected him to know what to do as the “leader of the free world.”
Many elected him explicitly because he was not a professional politician and the expectation was that he would disrupt the whole game in Washington and this would send a message to those still taking up seats in government. Well, that has happened. But what no one saw coming was that he would be embraced by the very swamp monsters that EVERYONE is sick of, not just Trumps fan-base, and these parasites would then use this novice politician for their own selfish purposes. Therefore, the man that rose above all others in the political game is now the scapegoat for all that is ‘wrong in America.’
I’m not giving a pass to Trump himself. He has faults galore that many of us, if we exhibited these same traits, would not have jobs, likely not many friends either. Recently I read something about our ability to judge people (judge as in being able to quickly determine if we should trust) and what it boils down to, as I understood, the more we are exposed to and get to know someone, the more unable we are to judge them correctly. That’s seems obvious because the more we know someone – more to the point, the more we know someone as they want us to know them (the ‘face’ you allow others to see) – the more we share in common, the more we like them, the less open we are to their faults, the less we trust our own instincts when something isn’t quite right.
This, I feel, is one explanation of Trump supporters; people who are good people, people who want the same things we all want, people who are tired of being marginalized, ignored, overlooked and, politically speaking, victimized by our government in whom we expect to have our best interests in mind when they make choices that effect all of us. The choice was made and the more the president speaks about how he is going to make America great again, the more rallies he holds where he speaks directly to (his) people, the more they want to believe that he speaks the truth.
We all default to where our sympathies lie and, therefore, we don’t see the cumulative ‘evidence’ to the contrary until the tipping point is reached, the point where the change is going to require more effort and time than we have to give. At this point it’s easier to choose our reality than face it. The more attacked we are for our choice, the more we dig in to defend it, the less likely anyone is going to be receptive to open-minded exchange.
The pandemic isn’t Trump’s fault nor the Chinese. It’s one of many, many problems we share in this world and, I will challenge, there are many more to come. We’ve become divided and self-serving, intolerant and defensive, indifferent to how each of us effects others and the earth. We don’t handle doing things or sacrificing for the greater good over our own personal gain and comfort. I’m not a doomsday person but I feel that we are going to experience more and greater global catastrophes until we either learn our mistakes or perish. Death is the common denominator: it can come earlier or later, but it’s coming.