An unconscionable sexual predator, reality television, orange, goonish, combover preacher-of-negativity and advocate of violence, who is imbued with a weird infantile desire of retaliation is somehow the U.S. President-elect with less than 2 million of the popular vote. He’s already packed his transition team with leaders of hate groups and stacking his cabinet with nightmare sycophants. Over the past week I’ve heard “it’ll be fine.” Sure it will, if you’re a white man completely devoid of empathy to any other person.
There are plenty of reasonable people who voted for this disgusting, perplexingly-accented, man-baby. I know a few. They’re not all bad people, they have many reasons why they voted for an atrocious walking spray-tan who looks as though he smells like a mixture of expired Aqua Net and under-boob cheese. Demonizing his supporters is a pointless and short-sighted endeavor. Relentless marginalization and categorization, this treating the political process like a sport, is too limiting and robs us of conversation and progress.
The cancerous tumor on the American psyche that is the 24 hour news cycle has subconsciously primed people to treat politics like choosing a team. Except there’s only two teams. And what do fans of one team do to the other? Demonize them, excuse our own teams
failings and overlooking horrific actions by members of our team. It’s the only way I can see people justifying overt racist rhetoric to the point of emboldening and even employing hate groups. In fact, I’d say that the dramatic increase in hate crimes over the last few days is akin to when a city riots after their team wins a championship. Not all Trump supporters are racist but all racists are Trump supporters.
The reason people voted for El Presidente Trump (which I hope is a moniker that’ll mess with his knee-jerk xenophobia) are not singular, they are multi-faceted and nuanced . Generalizing isn’t working. We are humanity. Deeply flawed, ultimately nihilistic organism that is humanity. We are all trying to figure out the best way for us and our families and friends to be okay, others be damned. Not even prosper, just not have to worry so much.
To that end, I would like to advocate critical cynicism. Some voters thought that Trump would be the one to uproot a flawed system. That’s cynicism, not critical cynicism. Obviously, those voters were right, the system is deeply flawed, as evidenced by the person who won the popular vote still somehow not winning. But critical cynicism would have lead a person to evaluate the risk/reward ratio. Certainly Clinton would have preserved the status quo which is heinous and flawed, but the alternative in this case was a gooey “strong man” whose word pasta hypnotized people desperate for hope and change beneficial to them.
Critical cynicism isn’t “critical thinking,” it’s starting at a point of distrust and forcing the person in power to dissuade you of that distrust, or at least convince you, with all the information at our disposal, that the alternative to this heinous decision, is this other, hideous, unspeakable consequence.
For example, in the wake of Trump, I keep hearing people try to normalize his platform of bigotry or to a lesser extent, “we are going to be okay,” and I want to share that optimism, but let’s be critically cynical. A climate-change denier is being considered as head of EPA, a Creationist for Secretary of Education, an anti-Semite as co-chief-of-staff, Russian meddling in the election, emboldened racists, people who are heads of hate groups are acting as part of the transition team, one of the architects of the 2008 real estate crash is being considered as the Treasury Secretary, who all worked to undermine a completely qualified yet ultimately demonized candidate. Cormac McCarthy couldn’t have written something so bleak. It’s up to the incoming stormtroopers to intellectually dissuade me of that current truth.
In order to foster and feed and nurture the righteousness of that critical cynicism, I need to maintain a policy of understanding and respectful conversation starting from a position of deep distrust.