A Much-Needed “A-HA!” Moment

I’ve been mind-blowingly overwhelmed with current events post-election. Like – I wake up at 2am with news swirling in my head. Trump did __________ and I’m upset/angry/apathetic about it! Sometimes I’m upset and want to tell the whole world. Sometimes I’m angry, but I’m not sure it’s worth giving my attention. Sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to be upset, but I’m not bothered and I worry since the rest of the world is upset. Sometimes I don’t know how to feel because I’m uneducated in the subject (I had to Google the One China Policy) and then I feel overwhelmed by all of the self-educating I have to do. I don’t have substantial history knowledge retained from my early education or college years, and becoming a Mom at 19 kinda stunted that thing that happens to young adults when they start to care about current events. I didn’t start to care about current events until I was no longer having to use special vouchers to buy my food and sleeping 2 hours a night to balance work and college.

SO! Overwhelmed. I never seem to really know what I should be focusing on. Which representative do I call today and what do I tell them? What appointment is upsetting to me now? What news do I share out on Facebook that is the most important “resistance” type of point to take? Why does everything feel so UGLY? Why is it that sometimes I don’t care about some of the news everyone else seems to care about? Why do I feel like some days I’m not on the same page as some of the media sources I follow? How do I determine what I really care about?

And then someone wrote an article that helped me

A) Understand why sometimes I feel like liberal pundits are focusing on the wrong thing
B) Understand how to narrow my own focus so I can maybe get some sleep in the next four years.

The article OF COURSE has a click-baity title: Bad Ways To Criticize Trump but what it really should be titled is How To Determine What Should And Should Not Be Keeping You Up At Night.

(If “you” are a “Progressive” anyway. This is geared specifically to people trying to hold onto Progressive ideals and agendas.)

It’s super-long and if you’re like me and floundering trying to keep up with it all – you should find time to REALLY read it. But, if you don’t have time. I’m going to tell you the parts that hit home for me.

It’s a difficult paradox to get out of. You can’t ignore Trump’s tweets entirely, because it’s news if the President of the United States has publicly threatened or disparaged someone. But at the same time, by affording coverage to whatever Trump wants to say on Twitter, one allows him to set the agenda and make the news about himself.

I don’t like the constant “QUIT FOCUSING ON HIS TWEETS!” berating I see from a lot of Progressives because – like the Robinson points out – you really can’t ignore them entirely. But I 100% agree with the fact that by giving them the focus they’ve been getting, he controls the media. He then referenced a great set of tips for how to deal with the tweets. I will now follow this like it’s my code of ethics.

This quote is in relation to constant snarks about his appearance and to weird “protests” like the naked statues of him that made the news for awhile. (He mentions those in the article.) I keep thinking I’m better than that. I’m not going to mock someone’s appearance if I would shame my kids for doing that to someone at school.

One should care far more about what Trump thinks and does than what he looks like. Now, one could say that what he looks like is in some ways a reflection of who he is, since the ridiculous spray-tan with the little white eye-regions is the product and consequence of his vanity. But the broader principle of progressives should be: what someone looks like is of minimal relevance in evaluating them. That’s what we believe. And we should be consistent in that belief. If someone made fun of our candidate’s appearance, no matter what that appearance was, we would declare that as a matter of principle, image should matter less than substance. Such high-mindedness is both admirable and correct.

He starts to then direct this idea to whether or not we care about the politics of his hypocrisy. Sometimes liberals are calling him out on his hypocrisy for certain things and I find myself thinking: Wait. But I don’t think I care about this hypocrisy or this scandalous thing. I mean, during the campaign maybe pointing out his hypocrisy could have educated voters, but he’s President now. Maybe I don’t mind if he’s hypocritical about some things. Or other things, maybe I don’t even care about.

A useful question to ask when criticizing Trump is as follows: would I care about Thing X if someone on my own side did it? For example, isn’t it true that if someone on my side had bought concrete from someone with criminal ties, I would be taking pains to explain why buying concrete from someone unpleasant doesn’t make you yourself unpleasant. Likewise, I do not care when Democrats have unfortunate haircuts. What matters to me is what someone believes, not whether their flesh is or is not the color of a ripe Satsuma.

Then he takes issue with those standing up against Trump by calling out either A) his vulgarity or B) his ignorance on issues.

It didn’t matter that he had said the word “pussy,” it mattered that he had admitted to a series of outrageous sex crimes. But the idea that “vulgarity” is what’s unappealing about Trump suggests that if he did the same exact things, with a little better manners, his behavior would be beyond reproach.

Yes. I got into a FB spat over this. The vulgarity was not the problem. I don’t care. I mean – personally – don’t talk like that and expect me to be okay with it. But in terms of something keeping me up at night? It was the casual reference to assault. That is what was upsetting to me.

Trump should be treated as what he is: non-literate, non-worldly, but media-savvy and ruthlessly cunning. “Trump is dumb” messages are likely to play about as well as “Bush is dumb” messages did during the Bush/Kerry fight. They make liberals seem haughty, and Trump can claim that the elites are sneering at him (and by, implication, the working class) for his lack of formal learning.

I really disliked the recent attack on his misspelling of “unprecedented” because it just had this “You are SO DUMB!” feeling to it and…how is that helping us at all? Why isn’t he allowed spelling errors? Don’t get me wrong – I’m constantly perplexed why someone hasn’t created a “filter” for which his tweets go through for approval, but I’m not going to shame someone for a misspelling. Not even the PEOTUS. I mean, he DEFINITELY needs to put people in place to prevent that type of error because it’s just bad optics on a global scale, but JEEZ. I can’t get worked up about it right now.

And then – THIS – this is the part that really FINALLY felt like explained my feeling of unease when sometimes I’m not even sure I care about some of the things getting so much focus.

Some critics of Trump seem to almost want to goad him into being worse for progressives. For example, in the time following the election, Trump was attacked for refusing national security briefings and retaining executive producer status on The Apprentice. The premise here, apparently, is that we want Donald Trump to spend less time working on reality shows and more time exercising the power of the presidency. But that seems an insane thing to desire. For progressives, it would probably be better if Trump spent four years continuing his reality show act than if he started thinking about which countries he’d like to bomb. The fewer national security briefings he gets, the better. (Same logic applies to the wall. Here’s a quick tip that all progressives should follow: if he doesn’t make an effort build the wall, don’t tell him he’s a hypocrite and a failure.)

When I heard about The Apprentice news I was like, “Go! Actually be on the show! I don’t mind leaving more level-headed Republicans in charge, to be honest!”

I mean – is it what I want in my President? No. But right now I’m wanting to project Progressive ideas and agendas and I just feel like the less active he is, the easier that will be on my part.

Maybe? It’s still hard to tell where his priorities lie, which is why I really like how the article closes things out discussing Trump’s conflicts of interests.

A number of people have dwelled on his “conflicts of interest,” suggesting that Trump will unconstitutionally use his new powers to seek new business opportunities abroad, exploiting the office for financial gain. But if we’re being honest, this is probably the best outcome progressives could hope for. We should pray that Trump wants money rather than power, because building hotels in Singapore is one of the least destructive possible uses of his time. Corruption may be bad, but for progressives who care about human rights, Trump’s corruption should be very low on our list of worries. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out before, we should always hope that strongman-leaders are corrupt. If they’re corrupt, they might not do too much harm; you also can buy them off with money. But if they’re sincere yet megalomaniacal, there’s no end to the evil they will do.

and then…my favorite line of it all…strictly for helping me shape my “Current Events Filter” as to what will keep me up and night and what I’ll just try to ignore…

A corrupt con man will drain your treasury, but an honest ideologue could massacre six million people.

That’s it. I’m not sure which he is right now. I’m not saying we ignore the things that indicate he might be a “corrupt con man” – but the “honest idealogue” has more dire consequences so that’s where I’ll be making sure to lend my focus. I’m not saying we allow him to be a “corrupt con man” with no repercussions, I’m just saying that we need to not let the media force us to focus on those actions when there might be “honest idealogue” actions hidden underneath the sensationalism of the corruption.

Robinson used Bernie Sanders response (read here to the Carrier deal as an example of good Progressive focus. (And you all know I was not a Sanders fan, so me allowing this accolade is big 🙂

Note what Sanders <did not do. He did not criticize every aspect of the deal. He did not diminish what it meant to the workers whose jobs were saved. But he reversed the message: instead of a move to help workers, it was a handout to corporations. This is the correct approach. It doesn’t treat every aspect of everything Trump does as necessary of the same criticism. Instead, it asks: how do Trump’s actions affect people in the real world? And if Trump’s actions affect people negatively, they should be criticized.

And then he rounds it out with this:

Criticisms should be of the things that matter: the serial sexual assaults, the deportation plans, the anti-Muslim sentiment, the handouts to the rich, the destruction of the earth. These are the things that matter, and if progressives actually do care about them, then these are the things we should spend our time discussing. Forget the gaffes. Forget the hypocrisy. Forget the hotels. Forget the hair. And don’t bother calling him Drumpf.

Now, I’m not trying to be self-righteous. I loved LOVED LOVED the John Oliver Drumpf thing during the election because it just made me laugh (meanly) over how upset it would make Trump. BUT! I see it also adds to the whole “Liberal Elite” image people on my side have a problem with. So I need to thwart any instincts I have to laugh along and push that type of action (even though it’s oh-so funny) and remind myself what matters to me. Protecting the marginalized. Criminal Justice reform. Healthcare. Women’s reproductive rights. Refugee support. Paths to citizenship for contributing members of our society. Separation of church and state. These are the BIG progressive issues I worry about with a Trump Presidency and a Republican Congress. I don’t need to stay awake at night tossing and turning about conflicts of interest. NOT because it’s NOT important, it IS very important, but because there is SO MUCH going on right now and I can’t focus on all of it.

Robinson gave me an excuse to be more selective so that maybe…JUST MAYBE…I can get some sleep again.

2 thoughts on “A Much-Needed “A-HA!” Moment”

  1. I think the truly terrifying thing about this man is that he’s probably a corrupt con man *surrounded by* (more or less) honest ideologues. So while part of me wants to be happy that he’s ignoring doing his job, the rest is concerned about who’s at the wheel while he’s playing reality TV celebrity instead. And while the gaffes didn’t really matter while he was a joke of a candidate, they DO matter now that he’s a joke of a LEADER. People are watching what this person does and says and drawing inferences about the rest of the people in this country and what “we” might do next on the world stage. And that in turn affects what THEY plan to do. And that’s scary as hell, just as scary as threats to civil liberties.

    The issue with stuff like “unpresidented” is not that it’s dumb, it’s that it’s ignorant. (And hell, it’s kind of ironic.) People aren’t making fun of him (or most of us aren’t anyway) because he doesn’t have a “formal education” or because he made an honest mistake. They’re pointing out the “dumb” things he does and says because he DOES technically have an education (as he’s reminded us 5,500 times) and he’s supposed to be in charge of an entire country and he should know better. Being “dumb” is forgivable. Being willfully ignorant is not, and it’s a DANGEROUS trait in someone who’s supposed to be a world leader.

    Although I do hope that after four years of people bothering him to actually, you know, BE the president, he’ll be so exhausted he won’t want to run again.

  2. Yes! If Trump isn’t running the country, Pence is. Something those wishing for a reason to impeach him might want to remember.

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