Sydney Burr

This Political Op-Ed is Not About Trump

My neighbor finally realizes his flag has fallen, and he sets it aright. (Victoria Waddle)

It’s the one thought that connects all political discourse in the Democratic Party right now, the subject that keeps coming up at debates, by far the number-one concern of many voters: we must defeat Trump. My head is always full, a whirlpool of swirling ideas, but every time I hear this tired rhetoric, I think the same thought: this is not about Trump. Not really, and if we tell ourselves that it is, we are designing a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is only about Trump if we frame it that way, and lately, that frame has been outselling all the others in stock. We must remember that the political machine will keep on chugging long after he leaves office, whether that happens in 2020 or 2024. We need to look at the bigger picture, one that Trump is only a tiny part of.

Politics will keep on going with or without him, just as it has for centuries – so will climate change, gun violence, poverty, human rights violations, and the multiplicity of other issues that plague our country and our world, if we do not take action against them. I’m afraid to think of what future atrocities we might fail to properly address amidst our obsession with Trump, whether that obsession entails praise or disdain. Gun violence, for instance, is a minor concern for voters at the moment compared to ousting Trump from office (or, alternatively, keeping him firmly in it). That’s right, innocent people getting shot en masse is not near the top of the national list of worries. We need to stop making this about Trump–my generation and those to follow are inheriting a world that is crumbling beneath our feet, and frankly, I think we deserve better.

The primary thing facilitating this destruction is our determination to turn a blind eye to it or offer false solutions, and stubborn creatures that we are, such attitudes are now all too widespread. Partisanship and your feelings, whatever they may be, about one insanely rich and all-too-prominent individual are no substitute for actual knowledge and passion. This could be why our voter turnout is so low: we allow our elections to revolve around sound bites, Ds and Rs next to the candidates’ names on the ballot, and scandal, so that they resemble real-life soap operas infused with the occasional odd moment of profundity, then expect the vast majority of Americans to give a rat’s rear end about how it all turns out.

We also need to talk about the very real truth that what’s already been done won’t necessarily work against modern-day problems. Our ideological pilgrimage to the intellectual Holy Land of what we’ve traditionally believed needs to be recognized for what it is: not an admirable way of looking to the past as a source of inspiration for how best to save us from ourselves, but a habit primarily driven by our all-consuming fear of the unknown. The only unknown we should be fearing is where we’ll end up if we keep coming back to outdated ideas. With the severity of the large-scale problems we’re facing, current political discourse should be focused on saving the world by caring enough about it to find new ways to do so, and that’s a much bigger deal than some billionaire with a comb-over and a loud Twitter feed.

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