There will always be those citizens who are strictly one political party or another all the way. There are those who may vote primarily for one party, but have voted for candidates of a different party from time to time. My parents were always siding with the Democrats, saying they were for the working man, even though, to my knowledge, they never voted. (Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion.)
I fully understand the sentiment of voting being pointless because of such criticisms as politicians lie too much, they never keep all of their promises, and they mostly serve the wealthy, which includes themselves, not the common folk. All of that is not just sour grapes. The past presidential election showed two key elements: One, voting out of fear is still, sadly, alive and well in this country; and two, an unfriendly country (Russia) was able to meddle in a presidential election. If we send people on missions, usually through the United Nations and other global watchdog groups, to observe whether or not various elections go smoothly, then we need to exercise that same intent within our own system.
Beware! That meddling in 2016 does not mean it cannot happen during mid-term elections this November.
It is easy and, quite frankly, lazy to label all those who voted for Donald Trump. Calling names might make the caller feel good, but it solves nothing. Mr. Trump was savvy enough to play on the fears about immigrants (fear of "the other") and fears about jobs to win the election. It is not a new tactic, and I have to admit to feeling disheartened thinking that his use of it will likely not be the last time it's used in an election or in trying get legislation passed.
What I will offer here is to say that the 2016 presidential election must become proof, once and for all, that simply voting out of fear cannot be a viable motivation. That is not to say fear is easy to ignore when voting, but it can no longer be your biggest reason for heading to the voting booth on Election Day. And yet, that is part of the reason the election went the way that it did. Simply put, when fear is a motivator in an election, the result and aftermath are not always pretty.
Think back to when you feared something -- and I mean fear of something life-affecting -- and ask yourself how clearly did you think in that moment? Were all of your actions clearly thought out to their logical conclusion? Not every major decision I've made in life was a smart one, even when fear wasn't involved, and any made while being fearful were not easily made or produced the best results. No less must be true when it comes to voting in an election.
The 2016 presidential election is not the only example of voting out of fear and maybe, sad to say, this year's mid-terms will play out the same way for the same reason. (I sincerely hope not.) Let me offer this as food for thought: Can you think of a candidate, any candidate, who did not mention jobs? If you look back in history, will you find any candidate who did not mention jobs?
Now take those questions and expand on them further: Can you think of a candidate who campaigned on taking away jobs? Yes, there have been some whose policies or promises might lessen jobs for certain sectors. What I mean here is can you think of any candidate who just came right out and said If you lose your job, oh well or I will work to increase unemployment numbers? Of course not. They are not going to campaign on losing jobs. What candidate would? They certainly wouldn't get very far if they did.
My point is that jobs will always be a concern, even if mostly everyone had a job ... that is, a permanent, full-time, livable-wage job. When a candidate is harping over and over again about jobs, maybe even about a certain kind of job or a certain sector of jobs, unless the reported unemployment numbers are like those during the Great Depression, those candidates are playing on your fears.
Similarly, when they talk about "the other", usually this is about immigrants but not solely them, unless there is proof that the vast number of them are (as Trump said in his speech announcing his presidential campaign) "bringing drugs [and] bringing crime [and are] rapists", then they are playing on your fears. Have there been those who crossed the border illegally who brought drugs with them? Sure, but far more drugs come into this country through means other than via illegal immigrants. Have there been any who crossed over into the U.S. who committed crimes? Sure, but out of the total number of crimes committed in this country, the number committed by those here illegally is a small percentage. (The current administration, but not just the current administration, likes to conflate and cherry-pick numbers to make it sound worse than it is.) Have there been any rapists who crossed into the U.S.? I do not know for certain, but I would suspect that, with the fervor against immigrants in this country, if the number of rapists and rapes were significantly high, that information would have come out long before this blog posting.
All of that is not to say we should, as a nation, start approving crime ... of course not. However, when you highlight something as being so terrible, when the numbers simply do not back you up, then you are using disproportionate highlighting to play on people's fears. It is akin to far more terrorist attacks in this country being committed by citizens rather than by foreigners coming here for that sole purpose, but stating that the threat from outside our borders is greater. For the voter, it should be a case of if you can't back up what you're saying, then I can't back you.
Instead, what we currently have, and this phrase popped up on many news programs last week, is a cult of personality for our political system. Forget democracy, never mind a republic, it is a cult of personality. The GOP (Grand Old Party, the nickname for the Republican Party) is gone and has been replaced with the POT (Party of Trump). (It is not just R.I.P. America, it is also R.I.P. the Republican Party.)
None of this is all one group of persons' fault. It is not just the fault of the voters -- they are, after all, the ones casting votes -- and it is not just the fault of the politicians. My point throughout all of today's post is we are indirectly responsible for what politicians who were voted in do while in office because we put them there, but we are directly responsible for what we do. That includes when we go to the polls. We must be wiser collectively when we vote.
In his first inaugural address, on March 4, 1933 -- it wasn't until his second inauguration that the date of inauguration was changed to January 20 -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this country's thirty-second president, said these immortal words:
"THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF."
How true and how ominous those words are now after years of voting out of fear. For what we can do, for the one part we play in a democracy, we must reject that as normative.