Hate Donald Trump? Then give democracy a chance.

Photo: Trump’s Twitter Feed

Ask yourself, and be honest: do you hate Donald Trump as much as he seems to hate Muslims?

The effects of hate, fear, and generalizations about your fellow humans are pernicious. They corrode your soul. You end up looking in the mirror and wondering if you are any better than the thing you hate.

For example . . .

Donald Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering America. We fear and hate terrorists. Some of the terrorists are Muslims. Ergo, his reasoning goes, we need to block all Muslims.

Some of my Facebook friends have been sharing articles about how the Republican base is bigoted and racist. When I objected to this generalization, a commenter replied “Your argument just shows the lack of empathy and understanding that is problematic in many of the tenets of your party.” I’m not a Republican, but I have plenty of empathy for Republicans who get lumped into a group and called racists. If it’s not ok to make blanket statements about all Muslims, why is it ok to dump on all Republicans?

According to the White House, Trump’s rhetoric inflames the West-vs-Islam narrative that drives ISIS recruitment.

Now an op-ed in the Boston Globe says CNN should ban Donald Trump from the next debate. Will this reduce his level of support, or will it drive more people suspicious of the “mainstream media” to support him? If you think that inflaming the West-vs-Islam narrative helps ISIS recruit extremists, then why don’t you think that the media-vs-Trump narrative will help Trump recruit voters? Victims get angry and band together in groups to fight back.

Trump wants to exclude Muslims from our nation. This is disgusting and un-American. Now many, including a prominent New Hampshire Republican, want to disqualify Trump from the Republican primaries. This is hateful and un-American, too. Just as there should be no religious tests for being an American, there should be no moral test for being a candidate. In both cases, you have to ask, who are we empowering to make these decisions, and what’s to stop them from excluding someone like you next time? If you don’t trust the voters to decide, then you don’t want to live in a democracy.

Trump reflects how fear and hate distort America. How you react says a lot about you. Fearful and hateful reactions towards Trump, his supporters, and Republicans aren’t furthering the dialogue or convincing anybody. You might feel good now, but you’ll feel ugly and ashamed later.

I have faith in America — all of us, Democrats, Republicans, and independents — and our ability to decide.

I want to see Trump continue to make it clear what he stands for, including in debates, so we can decide. I want to see him on the ballot, so we can see how much of America is willing to vote for this guy — not talk trash to a pollster, but actually vote. I want to see the size of the problem.

I want to see how the other candidates react to his batshit lunacy. (I was pleased to see Jeb Bush call him “unhinged” and Paul Ryan saying “It’s not what this country stands for.”) I want voters to know how their candidates feel about Muslims and religious freedom.

I am no knee-jerk liberal — I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and independents. I like having a choice. I would like the Republican Party to have a chance to reclaim its soul from jingoistic racism — or to prove that it has no soul, so there’s no mistaking that fact.

The process we are all now living through, as ugly as it is, is healthy. Let’s have an election about who we are as a nation: debates, primaries, Twitter, nastiness, and all that.

Don’t give in to fear and hate. Give democracy a chance.

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  1. Well said Josh. What you’re describing happens to me all the time. Those who know me well, know my politics. I’m no liberal. But because of that, I often get lumped into some stereotypical, bible thumping, racist, [expletive] republican persona. I’m not that either. You eloquently highlight the double standard that those on both sides often fail to see. If everyone takes a pause, looks in the mirror, and uses their heads instead of their hearts before they pass judgement – well, we wouldn’t have all of the bombastic idealism that we see on Facebook all day every day. Sadly, we have another year of this bullshit to endure.

    1. I’m so glad you chimed in, Carl. I think you’ll find that I don’t agree with you on many political issues, but when I talk to intelligent conservatives like you (and you know some of the ones I mean, we worked with them), I learn things.

      I find it amusing that when I give Republicans credit for anything positive, I get thrown into the chum bucket along with you guys. But I’d rather be a respectable independent thinker than a knee-jerk anything.

  2. You are correct in the assumption that most Americans want solutions. You are incorrect to assert that we are averse to the easy way out. Democracy takes thought, careful consideration, and work. It is easy to jump on a bandwagon because something that a candidate says is contrary to one’s ingrained morality (and I admittedly use the word loosely). When the logical arguments posed by a candidate strike fear or vehemence into one’s soul, however, it is necessary, for the sake of democracy, to examine one’s own ideologies before jumping to illogical conclusions. It is time to think, to consider the hard questions which may lead to even harder consequences, and to avoid personal bias for the sake of public approval. It is time to do what is right, instead of what is easy.

  3. I would be interested to know what you mean by ‘un-American’?

    I’m not American, and I’m not quite sure whether ‘un-American’ means here – is it ‘unconstitutional’, or ‘contrary to the American spirit’ or something else.

  4. Josh, this is a nice break from the partisan party lines and name-calling that seems to dominate this discussion. Fear sells and people like to see their biases reflected back at them in the media. It is challenging for any of us to set aside those biases and think about why we like or hate a guy like Trump and what role he really serves in this election and our political process. Keep on.

  5. You guys are hammering home, I think, the key problem with our 2-party system: either you’re for my pet issue, and one of the good guys, no matter what else you think, or you’re NOT for my issue, and therefore evil incarnate, again, no matter what else you think.

    We’re not getting very far with this mindset. American politics is almost deadlocked at 50-50, with the small percentage of people who think they can influence the gerrymandered elections.

    I’ve long argued that “liberalism” can best be described as being comfortable with hypocrisy, as long as it furthers one’s goals. This situation seems to be yet another perfect example.

    I think the answer would be to try multiple parties, and pluralistic voting. If nothing else, I think it would get the American electorate thinking about a spectrum of issues, rather than pushing people to be single-issue voters.

  6. Josh, I enjoyed this post very much and have shared the link with some of my online friends. This gave me a different way to look at things and while I’m repulsed by most of what comes out of Trump’s mouth, it will be interesting to see where this goes. As you said, we’ll see what kind of country we really are when this is all over.

    On a related note, I’m very glad to have stumbed across your blog and have shared much of your content with my colleagues at the office. Great stuff.

  7. I agree with most of your points, but if the Republicans themselves decide he’s “not in sympathy with the principles of the party” (apparently they have some rule like this on the books) then I wouldn’t see a problem with them showing him the door.