Oped: Ten good things that came from Trump election
Now that the election is over and that there are mixed reactions to it, let’s reflect on 10 good things that came out of Trump:
Exposed the Republican party’s ideological vacuum: The GOP has come far from being Lincoln’s party to now having primaries with little substance and any meaningful discussion on the economy, healthcare, etc. Trump simply capitalized on this emptiness while Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz thought that the best strategy to win candidacy was to stop him. Should there have been a more substantive candidate or culture of discourse, would Trump have any place?
Explored the real message of today’s GOP: Think of Trump as the outsider seeking attention and power with few ideas and much aggression. Where could he be best accepted? The Muslim-bashing didn’t start with Trump. Two wars, prison tortures and the Patriot Act were all legacies he built on. Subtle racism, wealthy tax-cuts and denying police brutality are his amplification of already-existing ideas. His eventual departure from the GOP shouldn’t just give relief, but also awareness on the foundations he built his campaign on.
Created necessary cognitive dissonance for the average Republican: Everyday Republicans are not hate-mongers, racist or anti-immigrant nor are they opposed to meaningful change. However, they are protected from the effects of their party’s corporate policies and prejudices through conservative huddles, in-group conformity and identifying a common political opponent. If an externally calmer candidate with similar policies would not have made one uneasy, then a more aggressive, mean Trump was necessary to ruffle some feathers. Hopefully, this self-introspection for the grassroots right-winger will go beyond Trump.
Shocked even the haters: Americans have diverse feelings towards minorities. Even if the average person’s uneasiness towards some groups was 5 out of 10, Trump’s hate expressions bumped it up to 8-9 leaving many simpler, sub-conscious, unintentional haters to question their own feelings. Many neutral Americans who may have had curious anger towards Muslims or Blacks may now be wondering if they need to go so far. Love can heal hate, but sometimes observing more hate can heal one’s hate too.
United decent people together: People of diverse backgrounds, global leaders in politics, religion, etc. came together in opposition to Trump’s campaign acknowledging commonsense ideas, our shared values and commitment to mutual respect and dignity. This may have otherwise only been assumed and dormant. The social consciousness that Trump raised in his opponents was one of the biggest positives of his campaign.
Exposed the political crises in Washington: Americans in general are tired of corporate-politics, abusive foreign-policy positions and absence of meaningful reform in education funding, healthcare and economy. Despite Obama’s enthusiasm, people on the left sense a compromise of genuine liberalism by Democratic politicians while right-wing folks have their own view of regression and both are tired of partisan deadlocks. As much as it hurts to put Trump in the same bowl as Bernie Sanders, the crises that they both capitalized on are not to be ignored.
Can motivate anyone to believe in anything: Humanity always has an innocent hope even in the face of repeated failures. Whether it is an authentic Sanders or a loud, pointless Trump, people want to believe in radical, new ideas, in different ways. They are saying that the grass may or may not be green on the side they are rooting for, but it certainly is not green where they are now and they want to move on.
Uncovered our society’s symptoms: Trump successfully identified, galvanized and organized the inherent hate in our communities, the shallow and demeaning things that can motivate people and their cliquish way of thinking. The diagnostician has done his job identifying the problem; now it’s up to the doctors to treat it. (Thought-processes and not people are the symptoms.)
Has uncovered the limitations of the Presidential office: The spillovers of Bush, the hopeful eloquence of Obama and the miserable Trump campaign all seem to teach the same message – there is only so much a President can do. The national political rhetoric reflects that more attention needs to be diverted to local and state governance. Trump would do far more damage to America than Obama could do good, but there is much that can be done locally even as he is elected. Through both hope and hopelessness, we realize the limitations of the Presidential office.
This will also pass: The next Trump won’t be so lucky. He will not garner the same attention or shock as the current one. When you have experienced a hurricane, you know how to handle the next one. Sometimes, the presence of negativity, even when undesirable, brings with it the advantage of familiarity and workable responses to the next one.
Now what to do? I am neither Democrat nor Republican, nor do I dislike either party. I am a legal immigrant, not even a citizen yet. I see that the average American voter, in many ways, is a tribal one. People’s political affiliations are not always based on ideological points but on their ethnicities and those whom they grew up and associate with.
If social connection is the central feature that informs your vote, what is the point in raising ideological discussions? Yes, there are many who will go outside of their social comfort zone and vote for a candidate whom they think are overall suitable despite their specific disagreements, but such complex thinking is not affordable to all.
To shed light on our thought processes and make sense of some layers of craziness in this election is this article’s purpose. It is time to look forward and we should be willing to work towards common goals, individual rights and standing up for each other.
— Yasir Ahmed is a mental health clinician working in the Lancaster area. He lives in Millersville and earned a master’s degree from Millersville University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.