OK, everyone, please calm down. There are likely reasons behind why this is happening and what's going to happen next.
Let's start with the big picture: We have a population 320,000,000 (that's 320 million!) people here in the United States (3rd largest on earth), with probably in excess of 200 million of those eligible to vote. If your vote has a one in two hundred millionth of a chance of making a difference, it’s easy to feel powerless and forgotten by the current system. And that’s even before you throw in the electoral college with its “each state’s winner takes all” vote tallying system we have. Add in huge amounts of campaign money, lobbyists crawling all over the federal government, etc. and we have an entire system that’s failing, no matter what party you subscribe to! It’s not over yet, but it’s crumbing as we go.
So, here are voters who are being told constantly to go out and vote, that it’s their responsibility in our democracy, civic duty, etc., ... who at the same time get the feeling that their vote doesn’t really count anymore. You probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning (really, about 1,000 times more likely), or winning a prize in most state lottery games.
So what do some people do when stuck in this contradiction? Told they should vote, but feel like it’s a joke? They get angry, despondent, cynical, and perhaps even destructive, that’s what! Donald Trump is a magnet for such feelings. He is the public totem who says what they feel. The message is pretty much, “Hey, F--k you!” He says that in a myriad of different ways, but he represents frustration with nowhere to go, for a lot of people. So he trashes minorities, women, other candidates, members of the press, just about anybody.
Meanwhile, he’s the current ‘story’ out there in TV land at the moment. LENCs (Large Entertainment and News Corporations - I prefer not to call them ‘the media;’ I define that word more broadly) constantly harp on the campaign for President because it is a drama that draws viewers and readers in and keeps ratings up. To put it bluntly, Donald Trump is a money maker for CBS, NBC, ABC, newspapers, web sites, etc., across the board. Someone saying outrageous things and stirring up controversy “sells newspapers” as they used to say.
So, what’s the lesson here? What do we do about this? The first answer is to step back from it all for a moment and realize a few things. First, he’s not really going to be President. That’s for sure. He is a lightning rod for pent up frustration, that’s all.
Second, whoever ends up being President is not as important as it might seem. Even if we elect a ‘dream’ candidate (Barack Obama was a dream candidate for many people), the reality is that our failing system can pretty much render their goals a watered down mess in quick order (Barack Obama, again, even though he got re-elected). So if Bernie Sanders is your dream candidate, or perhaps Rand Paul is your dream candidate, neither is very likely to transform the country overnight, if elected. Or even transform it throughout their entire term! The office is just not that powerful anymore.
Finally, look at where most of the progressive action is these days. It’s more local, it’s more non-government, it’s more diverse, decentralized, and networked than our old fashioned traditional government system. The evidence is everywhere and it’s very positive, in my (humble) opinion. Marriage rights were expanded from the local and state level on up to the top, not the other way around. The federal government is the follower, not the leader, when it comes to drug laws, gun laws, women’s rights, prison reform, ... you name it! Washington is “Johnny comes lately” on these and other issues.
Sure, there is an EPA on the national level, but it’s the people making day to day decisions about what to buy, what to eat, what to reuse and recycle, compost, etc., that are changing how we live - changes that no federal law could ever hope to cause. We are using our networks to spread the word about how we’re changing instead.
You cannot legislate love. Love expands by being openly shared from person to person. Living in harmony with other people and nature around us is something we teach each other, often by example, not something that can ever be commanded from on high. Blaming people for feeling frustrated at government won’t help, either. Our job is to build bridges, not dig trenches for a long fight. There are ways for people from “opposite sides” to build relationships based on what they have in common, first, then agree to disagree on the rest.
Yes, there are 320 million people in the USA, and over 7 billion people living on earth right now. And ironically, although it may seem that trying to have a positive impact on something so large is futile, I contend that the only way to have an impact is in your own life, healing your own wounds with the help of others around you, helping them back, making the changes you can handle, a little at a time, and knowing that things like a Donald Trump candidacy will pass by soon enough.
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