I was listening to Slate’s Political Gabfest this afternoon and found myself frustrated in hearing, yet again, that people are sick of “years and years and years of politicians saying a lot of words that are basically meaningless” (John Dickerson). That this is why Bernie Sanders and (with much more impact) Donald Trump are putting up such impressive campaigns this year. I’ve heard it from podcasts. I’ve read it in new stories, blogs, and articles. I’ve even seen it on the increasingly small amount of TV that I’m able to watch.
And I just don’t understand something.
Are people really this gullible?
“[Candidate X] listens to me.”
“[Candidate X] stands up for us.”
“[Candidate X] is not afraid to speak their mind.”
“[Candidate X] doesn’t sound like a politician.”
“[Candidate X] sounds like a real person.”
Every time I come across these sayings, the internal voice in my mind is screaming “UNTIL THEY DON’T!!!” The “doesn’t sound like a politician” one really gets to me because I hear these people say this as they walk out of a POLITICAL RALLY. I mean, come on.
I even heard Emily Bazelon even say “sometimes it’s like a breath of fresh air when I hear Donald Trump because it’s not what a politician would say”.
Breath of fresh air? Breath of fresh air?!?!
Let’s not get it twisted, I could write a very long screed on my thoughts on what a horrible gasbag Donald Trump is, but I won’t right now. Let’s just say these “fresh air” statements are incredibly disturbing, inflammatory, racist, and just flat out mean. And yet, people believe in him. And his direction. (Never mind he has given ZERO policy statements deeper than “make America great again”.)
But I still come back to the idea that people truly believe the things these people say at these rallies. Like anyone could actually live up to everything that they say when attempting to court votes in an election. If there’s anything we’ve learned, the hope of a revolutionary candidate (or candidacy) can always be squashed by bullshit politics in the everyday. We’ve seen this time and time again. President Obama is just the most recent example. I personally had hope of radical change in the way things are accomplished in Washington. I was proven mostly wrong.
The funny thing is it’s not always the candidate’s fault. With Obama, my lord, could Congress have been any more ridiculous? Even right now in the midst of Antonin Scalia’s vacant Supreme Court seat, Congressional Republicans publicly state things they know to be against the spirit of the Constitution. And even state that President Obama’s constitutionally spelled out job is not the right thing to do. I’m quite sure they ran (in their own elections) on upholding and protecting the Constitution. Yet, here they are. NOT doing that.
I wanted to believe in the fervor of change. I bought into it. And I still believe having a president of color was a great step forward in this country. But I can no longer believe that any meaningful change will happen as long as the political temperature stays what it is right now.
I want to believe in some of the radical changes Sanders is proposing. But I’d consider myself naive to believe any of those things could actually happen. Regardless if they should or not.
And I’m not even going to touch the stupidity and outright hatred that Trump espouses. Does he really believe the things he is saying? My guess is probably not. But he’s saying them nonetheless. And he certainly has convinced a lot of people that he does.
A topic for another day…