These days, there are few things as toxic as the country’s political environment. While one might want to throw most of the blame at our new commander-in-chief, this zero-sum game type of political climate was already part of the political landscape well before November or the party conventions last summer.
People are angry, and in many instances, rightfully so, but anger can also cloud our judgment or willingness to listen to opposing views. Listening to some of the commentary this morning on Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, you would think that the man advocated for euthanizing puppies while getting a tattoo of the Constitution inked across his face. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and ideologies, but anger for the sake of anger is continuing to get in the way of progress.
Despite your political views, we should take pride in how our country’s institutions operate. I was far from a supporter of President Trump, but he did win the election through the Electoral College, a system that was in place far before November 8, despite losing the popular vote. On January 20, we witnessed the peaceful transition of power from an incumbent Democratic leader to an #Error404NotFound. The very next day, millions of people throughout the country and across the globe came out to protest the new president, all without violence or repercussions for such protests. There is still a lot to question and push back on with the new administration, but we live in a great country that allows for such active protest right on the doorsteps of the president’s house.
Keep on protesting. Make your calls to your elected officials to voice your very real concerns. But also, please listen to the views of those with varying ideologies than your own. Do not simply link to articles via social media to an echo chamber of like-minded friends without understanding why someone might disagree with your views. Being a Democrat or a Republican these days can represent very different portfolios of beliefs as people identify with a certain party for completely different reasons (social, fiscal, religious, regional and many others), which is also why party identification is at the lowest it has been in decades.
For the most part, people are not evil. They can be misunderstood, they can disagree and yes, they can even tell bad jokes. But I can bet you that even some of the nominees to the president’s cabinet are not actively trying to ruin our country at the first chance they get (and if they are in fact evil, well, we have procedures in place to remove them from office).
Go protest when the need arises. Donate to charities and causes that may appear to be in the crosshairs of the new administration. Listen to views and debate those that may not align with your set of beliefs; you may even learn a thing or two. Tell jokes, good ones and bad. I am not naïve enough to think that the country’s problems will get better from such a simple micro-level exercise, but it sure as hell will not improve if we collectively contribute to the anger and zero-sum game survival environment into which we are falling deeper and deeper.
P.S. I am also here to give out free hugs.