I’ll admit it: Donald Trump has my attention. No candidate in recent history has been quite so mesmerizing a public shit-show. It’s tempting to write him off as an idiot or an asshat and leave it at that. But, there’s much we should be learning from Donald Trump, if we’re open to listening. So, yes, I’m glad Donald Trump is running for president and here are the 4 reasons why:
He’s proven racism and xenophobia are alive and well. If there’s one thing that’s most infuriating when discussing issues of social justice in this country, it’s the willful ignorance of those in positions of privilege and power. As black men, women, and children were repeatedly murdered by police officers in 2015 alone, the vast majority of white folks in America continued to defend the notion that racism is a thing of the past. But, Donald Trump has changed that. His hateful vitriol has emboldened many to share their true thoughts and feelings with renewed enthusiasm. Though I am not at all glad about the very real, very scary violence that has resulted from his words, I am hopeful that these overt displays of racism will cause Americans to wake up and to do some very needed soul-searching. Well intentioned Americans can no longer turn a blind eye to the racism in this country. Those Americans who have been denial about racism are being forced to confront it.
He’s exposed the fallacy in American exceptionalism. It’s not just conservatives who cling to the belief that America is somehow better than the rest of the world. Again and again, I’ve heard from fellow left-wingers, ‘don’t worry….even if he were elected, a dictator could never gain power in this country’ OR ‘even if he is elected, we’ve got checks and balances.’ I find myself being temporarily pacified by this argument myself, wondering how much damage could one leader really do? But, the reality is, we are not special. Hitler was originally elected to power, but later took power by force; slaughtering all the members of the opposing party at the time. And, that’s not the only time a dictator has had a forceful and bloody path to power. It has happened in many countries all over the world. It still happens all the time. Taking the time to speak up and speak out when would-be leaders’ messages are threatening & damaging before they gain too much power matters. Our future is not guaranteed to be a peaceful one.
He’s reminded us of the importance of doing your homework. One of the things the Trump campaign has mastered, is lying, then covering up, then glossing over the original lie. But, lying and politics have always gone hand in hand, and it seems this is increasingly the case with each new campaign. I’m now much more aware of how easy it is to deceive the public. I want to read the breakdowns of each issue from both parties’ perspectives, which means seeking out media from both national political parties- and then seeking independent sources for less biased interpretations. We ALL need to do this. I’m constantly dismayed by how increasingly divided we’re becoming as a country and the willful blinders we, as individuals, are willing to put up in defense of our party’s stance. Reflect on your own values first, then seek out political perspectives that support your personal beliefs; not the other way around.
He’s highlighted the need for diversity.
One of the things the Trump campaign has taught me is the importance of seeking out different voices. I’m convinced that if Trump really knew at least one Muslim, one undocumented person, one African American, one working poor person (and no people who work for him don’t count), one POW, his views would be quite different. When we insulate ourselves from the perspectives and struggles of others, it’s easy to judge, to fear, and eventually to hate. Watching Trump disregard perspectives other than his own through bullying, dismissing, and insulting anyone who dares to disagree with him reminds me why it’s so important to seek answers beyond those that are comfortable and easy for us to accept. We ALL are guilty of confirmation bias, so, it’s important that we confront realities different from our own- and the very best way to do that is through discussion with those who feel differently than we do.
So, no, I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. But, yes, I am glad he’s running for president if it means we’ll finally as a country, take a good, long, hard look at what it would really take to make America great again.
*Image by Gage Skidmore