I went to bed last night with a pretty bad taste in my mouth. And unsurprisingly, it wasn’t gone this morning when I arose. If you watched any of the debacle called a Republican Debate last night then you already know that I’m not talking about a literal taste, one that comes from onions or pickles.
I endured the mess that was 2.5 hours of adult males (notice I didn’t say grown men) shouting, arguing, and belittling each other at the request of my business partner yesterday who asked me to hold off one more day before venturing down to our local rec center and casting my early vote for the Texas primary. His desire is that by watching one more of the 9 (nine!) debates I would have a clearer picture of who I should be casting a ballot for and hopefully advancing the cause of moving America forward in the coming years.
The taste in my mouth this morning should be clear that I do not.
I am fortunate. I’ve written before about the opportunities I’ve been afforded by my skin color, my upbringing, my surroundings; I am prosperous, affluent, and comfortable. This physical life of mine could be much worse. I have no desire to ‘move to Canada’ or any other typical rhetoric that you might hear when going through a process like this. Yet, I can’t help shake the (oft-entertaining) internet meme that keeps running through my mind today:
I recognize that we are a fairly young nation in the grand scheme of things. If my math is correct, we’re working towards a completion of year 240 this July. But within that 200+ years, we’ve done some pretty cool things. We’ve been innovators. We’ve been leaders. We’ve been peacemakers (and sadly, war-makers). We’ve been care givers. We’ve been invitors of people. We’ve raised up men and women who have done great things and who have set even better examples. We’ve ushered in change, though sometimes slower than some would have like to have seen. Nations have looked to us for guidance, assistance, example, help, protection, and yes, sometimes they’ve looked at us in disgust.
Today, I’m pretty sure they’re looking at us quite bewildered. Confused to the fact that what we now have to offer as direction for our nation has been boiled down to a sideshow of clownism, supposed ‘leaders’ who yell at each other and demean each other on national stages in an attempt at a power grab.
The mess that is reality TV has now become reality.
I’ve got to assume that the rest of the world — if they watched that mess last night — understood it in the same way that closed captioning did on CNN, as unintelligible yelling. And what they see today is that America is truly drunk, a laughing stock. And frustratingly for me, what appears to be a stock on it’s way down.
As sad as the fact is that these are what have arisen as our best choices, the worst part about the entire thing is that we are egging this mess on. Donald Trump is an absolute mess of a human being and he is polling higher and winning by even greater margins than he ever has. This is a man who is demeaning, misogynistic, racist, crass, rude, filled with very few moral standards (if any at all), quick to lie, and what appears to be full of hatred in his heart; and here we sit supporting him more and more!
In states like Iowa and South Carolina, he has actually won the majority of votes of evangelical Christian voters — the ones who should see through his mess more than anyone!
This man — one who opens casinos and strip clubs; one who has defaulted on multiple loans and put as many out of jobs as he claims to have given jobs to; one who has broken the law in high-profile ways several times; one who blatantly discriminates; who seems to belittle every person that disagrees with him; that uses wildly inappropriate language while shaming others for doing so — is the man that the church has now decided to rally behind. The same church that was established by Christ, the man who embodies everything Donald Trump is not. The same church that claims to show love, and grace, and mercy to all. The same church that should stand up and be defenders of all those Donald has taken advantage of for the last 60+ years. Shame.
Sadly, as bad as it seems with Donald poised to come out on top of this primary season, I’m not in love with anything else that’s still on the table. It’s true, I’d take any of the other four Republican candidates up right now over Donald Trump but that’s like saying I’d take the least moldy piece of bread in the bag. It’s still smells bad and has the potential to make me sick.
On the other side of the aisle, my choices are an even-more-corrupt-than-Donald candidate that should probably be spending time in jail for her numerous offenses or an 800-year old kook that would drive our country so much further into debt that we’d end up under the rule of whatever country that decided to call our note in a very short period of time.
I’ve always remembered a specific conversation I was a part of in college, one where embarrassingly I got a little heated, one that caused me to think outside of my little bubble, if nothing else.
We were in a Bible class and somehow got on to the subject of America as a nation. As a proud American, I was happy to stand firm in my understanding of the greatness of the nation that raised me. We were powerful. We were strong. We were like no nation that had ever come before us. I was 19.
Another student in that class — an instigator in my mind at the time — had surely just finished reading Nietzsche or some other philosophy book pointed to the strength and size, and ultimately the fall of the Roman empire. He made arguments that we as a nation were in a similar situation to Rome in their heyday. As I recall it, I quickly jumped into a debate with him to let him know he was most definitely wrong and I’m sure I pointed out to him that if he didn’t like America, he was free to leave. I’m also fairly certain it wasn’t my finest moment. Go ‘merica.
I left class that day feeling puffed up for shutting him down but what I didn’t recognize is that I’d remember our conversation and his argument almost 20 years later. (If I’m not mistaken, he was dismissed from school for hacking into the computers and gaining access to school financials and student information but what he said has always stuck with me.)
Twenty years later, I’m not sure he was totally wrong. Maybe a 240-year run is a good one but now we’re on the doorstep of change. Maybe history does repeat itself and America is the new Rome. Maybe. Maybe not.
What it does look like in the short term is that come November, Americans will have the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to ‘lead’ our nation for the next four years. If those are our choices, I choose neither. Neither one of those two candidates represent me. Sadly, as backed by current polling and election results, maybe I’m not the representation of America anymore. Maybe America is getting a representation of who they really are, what they deserve.
Congrats America, you’ve gotten Idiocracy. Life is most decidedly imitating art.