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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Trump’s Reality TV Show

Sometimes I need a night to “sleep on it.”  When I finished watching the State of the Union address, last night, I turned to my sons (one daughter is away at school, the little one was asleep), and I said, “Well, Trump just produced an excellent episode of reality TV.”  That’s what it felt like, perhaps mixed with a little bit of game show.  But seriously, what else would I expect?

If you know me, or if you’ve read me, you have no question regarding my stance on Trump.  I am not a Trump supporter.  I was among the first to proclaim, “Never Trump.”  But, I was a registered Republican until almost four years ago.  And then I wasn’t.  I won’t hide that, and I won’t lie. 
Almost four years ago, I walked into a republican primary and cast a vote, too late, for John Kasich (I think… now I’m second guessing myself.  I suppose it could have been Christie or Rubio, but I don’t think so, because I’m a philosopher who likes bridges…).  In November, at a complete loss for what to do, I walked into another booth and cast a third party vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party (ostensibly throwing my vote away).  I have regretted that vote ever since, and I said I would never vote for a third party again.  But more on that later… back to the State of the Union…

Overall, it was appalling. 

I was appalled that the first third of the speech was devoted to money and power.  If that’s all you care about, Donald Trump is your guy. 

I was appalled at the way in which children were manipulated in the gallery.  I was appalled that babies were expected to have particular reactions to the return of their father and that a thirteen-year-old had to say, “Mom, are you OK,” over and over and over again on national television, as Trump went on and on about the death of his father.  I was appalled that a little girl was used as an example of exactly what it looks like to choose one child over another for a decent education as opposed to fixing the schools for all children. 

To be fair, the unprecedented (in speech) awarding of the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh as well as the promotion to Brigadier General of 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee were brilliant and beautiful moments, regardless of what you may or may not think of the recipients.  I guess if you’re going to gamble with people’s lives and use their stories for political gain, you’re going to strike out sometimes and also hit some home runs.

I was appalled that the one issue that received a widespread bipartisan, positive reaction was the killing of terrorists.  To be clear, I want to see the end of terrorism as much as anyone, but the very fact that the only thing the president could unite the entire country around in a standing ovation was death was unsettling.

I was appalled that the President of the United States didn’t shake the hand of the Speaker of the House, and I was equally (if not more) appalled that the same Speaker ripped up the President’s speech upon its completion.  I have frequently seen preschoolers engage in more respectful social behavior.  At Pelosi’s temper tantrum, I exclaimed, “That was completely inappropriate!  She’s going to get him reelected all by herself!”  Unpopular as it may be, I’m going to stand by that.  Fire away.

I was appalled by the President last night.  I was appalled by the Speaker.  I was appalled by the collective understanding that the only thing that might unite us is a common enemy, and even that is tenuous.

I have always taught my children that voting is an essential right that should be exercised by every American, and at the end of the night I looked at three of them after a great deal of consideration and admitted that I am unsure of whether or not I can vote in the upcoming election (this was certainly not only about the events surrounding the State of the Union; it has been percolating for many weeks now).  I am tired of voting for candidates who do not give a crap about my vote or my convictions.  I have made many concessions in recent years in order to vote for those whom I have found to be the best among bad choices.  I have long since ceased to “vote my conscience,” a phrase that was so important to me as a new voter at age eighteen, because there is literally no one whose policies would allow me to justify a vote of conscience.  I am sick and tired of voting for people because I think they might throw the least amount of fuel on the fire, and I actually want to be able to live with myself at the end of the day.

I was appalled, because I am not a republican and I am not a democrat.  Mostly, I was appalled, because I love people.  Maybe love doesn’t mix well with politics. 


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