The #resistance is still Trump’s best asset
Here’s a reason to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt. The coverage surrounding him is, and has always been at least 90% negative. Infinitely worse than what the media gave Obama. Now, the coverage studies usually only cover the big three (NBC, CBS and ABC) and it’s at least a safe bet that the positive coverage comes almost exclusively from Fox. However, even with Fox, it’s not always positive. I’d wager it comes largely from #1 fan and fellow tweetstorm addict Sean Hannity.
Here is why the incredible negative coverage of Trump is cause to give the President a bit of leeway: because they are reacting to him, not the other way around and their reactions are equal parts hyperbolic and incessant. Bear in mind, Trump started as the beginning of the “end of democracy. Several months ago, Trump was leading us inexorably into World War 3 with North Korea, now it was supposed to be with Russia. When he’s not “leading us to war with Russia”, as we all know, he’s colluding with Russia. Syria seems to be the one spot where his critics are the most consistent, standing largely against the missile strikes from this year and last year.
A second reason to not support the President necessarily but at least give him a bit more than his opponents are, is because his opponents aren’t doing anything new. They’re just doing what they’ve always done, at ever-increasing volume and frequency (if you can imagine that) and they haven’t learned that it doesn’t work. They’ve worked actively to bury the president during the election. Playing the moral card even when promoting Hillary Clinton, a woman comparable to Claire Underwood in personality and calloused ambition. They have been the driving force of division in this country attacking Republicans for supporting any part of Trump whatsoever.
Before you start, no, Trump isn’t the driving force of division in this country. The Trump we “know” now is a caricature of the media. Trump is interchangeably a racist (which it’s important to note he hasn’t been called that his entire time in the public eye until he started running against Clinton.) he is somehow an authoritarian tyrant, a Russian puppet who bombs Russian allies, Hitler, a white supremacist, worse than Hitler and all the other adjectives the Left tends to use against their opponents in lieu of actually debating the merits of the argument. The best the left can claim is that they are not the only dividing force in America right now. But if we’re seriously going to play “who started it”, like makes one side or the other a moral superior for continuing the behavior, I believe the blame belongs to the group that endlessly attributed the worst aspects of a candidate to every single one of his supporters.
This is, I repeat, not a call to support the policies of the President that one may disagree with. However, considering what we’re working with here. Trump is supposed to be a tyrant who came to power in the Constitutional way. He’s supposed to be an authoritarian who sees protests against him every single day and does not call in the Gestapo. He’s supposed to be a guy that has been stumbling us into physical wars with Syria, Russia and North Korea as well as a trade war with China, and yet all of those situations have either stagnated or, in the cases of NoKo and China have considerably calmed down. He’s a warmonger who hasn’t started a war with anyone and I could go on.
While you don’t have to support him, you have to admit the negative perception of Donald Trump does not really line up with reality. He’s not a moral paragon by any stretch, but he’s not what he’s “supposed” to be either.
PART 2: Fear of complexity
To start this next segment, I’d like to borrow from the “Lights in a Box” speech from journalist Edward R. Murrow
“Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about 50 or 100 years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live.
…Just once in a while let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night the time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given over to a clinical survey of the state of American education, and a week or two later the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to a thoroughgoing study of American policy in the Middle East.
….. I do not advocate that we turn television into a 27-inch wailing wall, where longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture and our defense. But I would just like to see it reflect occasionally the hard, unyielding realities of the world in which we live.”
We don’t technically live in a world that focuses on nothingness, but it feels like the scope of today’s media is incredibly small. That’s actually a point I want to cover about American media in general. If you watch a half hour BBC World News program, you’ll wind up in the United States, London and several smaller countries with unique or fascinating stories. With CNN especially and the rest as well, it seems like Trump is the only man on Earth worth talking about, and talking about in the most negative possible way. I’m going to make an assumption here, while Americans don’t watch the major TV networks anymore, they do visit the websites of these organizations, and the side-streams that magnify and further dramatize what is being said. We have a ridiculous paradox where much is written about maybe one or two topics (Trump and Russia generally) but despite the volumes written about those issues, not only are we oblivious to anything else of consequence going on in the world, but we aren’t any smarter on the issues we’re all supposed to be outraged about this week.
Even when the media decides to reluctantly abstain from Trump-talk for a few minutes the conversation is laser focused on the broad strokes. “Police are killing black people”, “people are dying” from this or that thing, “racism exists” and so forth. All generalities, and all true to an extent. But rarely do we see these ideas expounded on.
The problem with the term “Last resort”
I’ll step on the deadliest landmine first. Looking deeper into the issue of police violence, the data, as is the norm in America, is ambivalent. Anyone can get it to say anything. So we move to the dynamics of the fight itself. I’ve heard counters that say lethal force should be a last, last resort. This is true, with a few crucial asterisks
First, with the emphasis on “Last, last resort”, the implication seems to be “I’m not against lethal force” but there are certain criteria that must be met. What that criteria is does not seem to be written out at all. This story from the Salt Lake Tribune suggesting that a criteria should exist, but does not elaborate. Whatever it may be, one cannot expect an officer to run through a 5-10 point checklist before drawing his weapon. It’s a simple fact that some situations can escalate very rapidly, sometimes within seconds. Even this opinion piece doesn’t seem to have much.
Please note that I am not condoning the unlawful use of violence. I do, however, refuse to accept a criticism based on “well you just don’t care” or that I’m “ok with innocent black men being shot”. I do and I’m not. I simply don’t see a criteria for justifiable lethal force that appreciates how quickly situations can devolve. My standard is that hindsight does not work. If there is something in a person’s hand, that he does not drop, and you can’t tell what it is from 20 feet (which is a generous perspective, especially at night), self-preservation suggests that you assume the worst. If you’re wrong, you’re dead. If you hear 12 hours later that it was an airsoft gun with the orange bit painted black, how exactly were you supposed to know?
This is all before we get to the idea that there are some who believe that lethal force is justifiable only in the split-second before the other guy starts shooting. The same rules of engagement that are getting our soldiers killed in action. If there is a criteria to be made, it should take into account the dynamics of a situation and that police cannot be expected to handle every single situation, regardless of how many they have taken that day, with the same emotional stoicism that seems so easily attainable if you ask those who berate police
To be clear, I do not believe, as the activists appear to, that violence can be reduced into a series of steps that is calmly adhered to in every situation. Say we have a six-step program. Step 1: the meeting, step 2: conversation, step 3: tension and escalation, Step 4: attempts at de-escalation with the gun in the the holster, step 5: attempting to de-escalate with the gun out of the holster. Step 6: quick-draw gunfight. Violence does not have this rational pattern to it. Even some traffic stops skip from 1 to 5.
Forcing the complex to be simple.
We move now to “Racism exists”. This helps absolutely noone, especially when the word “Racist” is used as flippantly as it is today. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Gerard Alexander observed the following when addressing the Left:
But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.
This is not to deny the existence of racism. What exists now, however, is a much larger mess, created by the activists claiming to lead the fight against racism, that requires attention. In the activist’s zeal to stamp out racism wherever it may rear its ugly head, we now have no concrete definition of what is and is not racist. This is true to the point that differing opinions can cause one to be considered “racist”.
In attempting to make a simple declaration and run with it, the people claiming to want to fight racism before considering the complexity of the problem have created a problem based on what the word “racist” itself even means. We’ve even created the term “Systemic racism” as a means of saying that the problem exists throughout a given institution or government system, there is, as the Psalmist would say “not one who does good”. Picture if you will, not merely painting with a broad brush, but painting with that same broad brush, on the same spot of the canvas, with multiple different colors. You now have the mess that has been created by trying to run with a simple declaration that is pursued fanatically without regard for nuance.
I will tie this back into Trump’s opposition and the Left in general (if there’s a difference.) Reason being they are still running with the racism angle and they are still the side of the aisle most associated with social activism, for better or worse. It seems Clinton’s “deplorable” comment from ages ago was a glimpse into the perspective of the leftist view of those who disagree with them. They have been and are continuing to see racism (and Russia if they can’t see that racism at the present moment) everywhere they go that isn’t like them. The truth is the Left has dictated a new application of language for a very long time. Since the first term of Obama, it was not uncommon to see right-leaning views be almost instantly denounced as racist, bigoted, Nazi-esque, homophobic, hateful towards the poor, stupid, arrogant, ignorant, anything in that Young Turks meltdown from Election night that I missed, and a host of other pejoratives. They’ve weaponized the movements against racism and sexual harassment to burn the traditionally accepted descriptions of such to the ground and turn an accusation into a conviction respectively. This wave of social activism has no concern for the complexity of the issues it claims to want to fight, and more to the point, is creating more problems than it is fixing.
All of these problems are due to and exacerbated by a surface-level acknowledgement of what’s wrong with the country. The only difference from what Murrow was talking about and what we’re dealing with is that the television can now be a 70 inch wailing wall where “longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture”. But how, you may ask, can such loud, boisterous wailing be considered a “tepid acknowledgement” of what’s wrong with the country? The answer is that while the complaints are loud, the complaints rarely extend beyond “This is bad, we need to do something”, with the usual asterisk that my something, which I haven’t remotely thought through, is the best way. Anyone who disagrees with me is either part of, or fine with, the problem. For progress to be made on any issue, the activist Left must change its approach. If the last few years of #resistance are any indication, it is difficult to imagine such a thing happening anytime soon.