By Victoria Lynn Hall
I think a good portion of my time on social media during Trump’s term as President has been trying to remove all evidence of him from my feeds. First I blocked him, then I unfollowed most of his supporters but this was not the least bit effective. I was still barraged on a daily basis with people complaining about this man who I had never given a second thought to my whole life before he ran for president.
Even now, if Trump tweets something I am most likely to see a screen shot of it retweeted by someone I follow in my feed and I scroll quickly past it.
I’m not interested.
“But Victoria, you’re all into politics these days and Trump is our president, don’t you want to know what he tweets?” I imagine someone asking me (my cat is kind of looking at me like she may be thinking that now but is probably just wondering why I’m not paying attention to her).
No, I don’t want to know what Donald Trump tweets. If it’s truly important, relating to policy in some way, I’m sure I will read about it during the course of my research or someone will tell me about it, but it rarely is. Usually it is something dumb that everyone makes dumb jokes about or something completely outlandish that distracts everyone from the real issues and to be honest, both of those situations get on my nerves.
And while I’m on the subject of things that get on my nerves, I may as well add that I am sick and tired of the following phrases:
“Trump’s a fascist!”
“Trump is ruining our democracy!”
And the ever popular, “Trump is Hitler!”
And, whenever I dare to point out that none of these things are actually true or even worse, criticize Biden or any democrat:
“You must be a Trump supporter,”
or, and this one actually just makes me laugh at this point:
“You must be a Russian troll.”
To that I say, Spasiba.
I don’t want to spoil my own fun by refuting the Russian thing but for the record I am not a Trump supporter in any way, shape or form but neither am I a supporter of Joe Biden.
As my fellow contributor Jesse Crall explains in an article he wrote for this project that is thus entitled: Donald Trump isn’t a Fascist. He’s Just a Republican.
Trump is not ruining our democracy as much as he is a symptom of it already failing.
And Hitler was Hitler and some six million Jews were systematically murdered during the holocaust so let’s stop comparing anything to that, please.
However, it’s not just the inaccuracy of these statements that bother me but their ineffectiveness. Former presidential candidate, author and lifetime political activist, Marianne Williamson has said, “Anger isn’t the best motivation for political activism because it’s like white sugar. It gives a short term high but that’s all.”
She’s right, of course. If anger is all someone’s got – if the only opinion I ever hear from them politically is how awful Trump is and never any concern over actual issues – then I know they are not an activist or not long for activism. If they don’t engage in discussions on things like poverty, injustice, sickness and war, then they are not supplying any empathy or solidarity for, not just the people who are suffering from these things but also for people like me who are determined to at least raise awareness about them. It’s pretty disheartening to me when I see a post on a political Facebook group about how Trump must be defeated because he is a fascist get a ton of engagement while an article I share in an attempt to help raise awareness around the harmful sanctions our government has imposed against Syria gets no attention at all. If we aren’t going to address the harm that our government does around the world, then what good is changing our leaders going to do?
Look, I get that this stuff is hard and that a lot of people engaging in our political discourse are new to it, including myself. But the reason politics are difficult is because they should be. Politics isn’t just an election every four years – it’s serious, life and death decisions on a near constant basis and, though moments of levity are appreciated, I believe we need to take this stuff seriously. And blaming Trump for everything wrong with our country or insulting his supporters or calling people like me Russian bots is not serious, no matter how much people want it to be.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t think we should hold Trump accountable for the numerous things he does do wrong but blaming Trump and holding him accountable are not the same thing.
In fact, research professor and author, Dr. Brené Brown said in a talk that, “Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability.”
She goes on to explain that “people who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit to actually hold people accountable, because we spend all of our energy raging…and figuring out whose fault something is.”
I realize none of us are perfect and that we all need to vent at times but we need to reserve that for our personal lives and reserve spaces of political discourse for more productive conversations and communications.
I believe that in order to work towards truly reviving and reinventing our democracy, we should be using these spaces to build consensus and community. We do that through not just exchanging knowedge and ideas but also through sharing our own stories and experiences. We do that by encouraging self expression, learning and listening. That takes courage and empathy, not blame.
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.