The greater part of the last decade have been wrought with hardship for many of us. It’s fair to say that we’re all praying for 2020 as we enter a new decade to bring positive change, recovery and a more unified country. The White House is beginning the new year with the House of Representatives vote to impeach the President and a disruption of their work to do everything in their power to ensure it’s killed on the Senate floor.
With so much distraction, attention on much needed issues and the steps to recovery are blindsided as Democrats and Republicans focus on winning the 2020 election for their party.
More immediate to the election, the first step to recovery is recognizing the cause.
It’s become far too easy to look to all of the problems our country currently faces and place it all on the lap of Donald Trump, most especially when he fuels challenging issues with hateful name calling and half truths.
It’s undeniable that countless atrocities have been committed under his presidency, and he’s fueled divisions among our nation’s people, but these problems are much bigger than one man, and centering the narrative solely on Trump has only served to become a constant side show.
Since he first entered the race, the media and popular culture has been obsessed with talking about Donald Trump. Like a hack stand-up insulting the Yankees in Boston, Donald Trump has been an easy source of cheap heat for the past 4 years.
Trump has been often mocked for his love of “good ratings”, yet cable news was more than happy to profit off the attention he draws, going as far as to favor Trump’s news conferences over Hillary Clinton’s during the primaries, and even the absurd extreme of broadcasting an empty podium, awaiting for Trump’s arrival with bated breath, rather than airing the speech Bernie Sanders was delivering at that time were examples of what was in store.
Since his entry into the presidential race, every comedian, political writer, or chattering coworker took any chance they could to make a crack about Trump as fast as possible. It was exhausting back in 2016 and the repeated mantra of “Small hands, Cheeto, Covfefe, Drumpf” has become less of a wry declaration of rebellion and more a cry of desperation.
The Kurt Vonnegut quote has been touted out countless times in this administration, but it bears repeating: “During the Vietnam War, every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder six feet high.” These old jokes did nothing to stop Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office, and as more and more continue to suffer, why do we still engage with him in the same way?
The popular perception of Trump can vary anywhere between a blithering fool that can be undone by pointing out how stupid he really is, or an all-encompassing evil that threatens the very existence of the United States. Both of these aren’t entirely untrue, but to buy too much into either of these notions blinds us to the bigger picture.
Trump has shown himself to be a ridiculous, incompetent figure but that does not make him any less dangerous. A toddler with a loaded gun can still kill someone, but they’re a different kind of lethal threat than a trained adult with a knife. But to truly believe that we can breathe a sigh a relief and go back to living our lives like nothing is wrong with this country once Donald Trump is out of office whether through the impeachment process or the next election is diluted at best.
The means for him to accomplish the evils he has committed and exasperated to date were already in place long before he arrived and sadly it will take a great deal of time to undo the damages he’s caused and made worse once he’s gone.
Electing Obama didn’t magically fix the issues of racial injustice in America—among other problems that plagued us during that time—and we can’t focus only on “Who can defeat Trump” without something of substance for people to believe in.
One of the great failings of the 2016 election cycle was the presumption of victory. That the absurdity and repugnance of Donald Trump was so great that there was no way he could possibly win the primary, and if even if he did he could NEVER win the presidency. Why not have the Get-A-Load Of This Guy Cam pointed square at him at every opportunity so we can laugh at his appeals to our clear intellectual inferiors?
The point of view to ‘let him manipulate a suffering rural America with empty promises of improvement, we don’t need their votes and they’re all poor racist hicks anyway, so why bother reaching out to them?’ It was an arrogant campaign that failed to engage anyone that hadn’t already made up their minds, and we paid the price for it.
The whirlwind of daily Trump headlines can become so overwhelming that nothing sticks in your head for more than a week at best. Recalling something as recent as the Brett Kavanaugh hearing feels like trying to remember the finalists from Survivor: Panama. It’s an easy trap to fall into, it’s comforting to let yourself think it will be as simple as stopping the one bumbling Bad Guy and return peace to the land.
But defeating Trump will be impossible without keeping sight of the real issues we face. Financial inequality, the crippling cost of healthcare, the state of immigration, the suffering of migrant children locked up in for profit detention centers, DACA, the climate crisis, Neo-Nazism, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to many crises our country faces, and many have been with us for longer than we care to admit. Our next four years must focus forward in addressing our nation’s long list of serious issues.
The story of injustice and corruption in America didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and the fight for justice cannot end with him.
Alejandro JSM Chavez is a contributing writer for the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol