A Response to “Trump’s America Not as Bad as the Media Suggests” by Spencer Richardson and Bonnie Williams
We wish to address the article from last issue titled “Trump’s America Not as Bad as the Media Suggests.”
Perhaps you, the author, should consider amending your argument against the media, which you characterize as “dishonest, unethical and manipulative,” and be honest with yourself. Your problem is not with the media. It is not with the institution Trump has lambasted as the “enemy of the people.” Your issue is with Democrats and the “Left.”
You begin the article by recounting the ways your family is currently struggling. Telling the story of your family’s hardships to make a point that rhetoric is often used to conflate coincidences with Trump’s administration does nothing but belittle those who are actually suffering as a result of Trump’s actions. Anecdote is not empiric, and this anecdote only serves to highlight your privilege.
The article proceeds with a concern that Americans have forgotten their history, “or worse, intentionally neglected it.” So let’s talk about history, because the author of the original article is also likely to believe Republicans in 2019 faithfully represent the interests of a diverse community because Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, freed the slaves. Yes, it is true that when the Republican Party was founded in 1856, anti-slavery was a component. But the political parties of 2019 are vastly different from their 1930s and 1830s iterations. Beginning in the 1930s, the Republican and Democratic parties experienced a realignment, with Democratic President Roosevelt ushering in an era of unprecedented government expansion in order to cope with the Great Depression. Up to that point, Democrats had been associated with smaller federal government and conservatism, characterized by a strong political base in the South. In the 1960s, Democrat President Lyndon Johnson further departed from Southern Conservatives with his “Great Society,” in some ways a continuation of the “New Deal” that sought to address issues related to racial inequality and poverty. During and following the Johnson administration, the once “Dixiecrat” Solid South changed affiliation to the increasingly Conservative Republican Party. (For the visual-minded among us, check out the electoral maps of 1926 and 1994 to see the realignment).
Yes, it does seem to be true that Americans will criticize their leaders, often harshly and unfairly. Attempts to discredit Obama by questioning his origin of birth and his link to radical “Islamic” groups were frequently used by the Right. Yes, people love to hate the person in power, however, that does not excuse Trump’s deplorable actions. It does not mean we should not hope for progress in our leaders and recognize when they are failing to move our country forward. President Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was cruel and inexcusable. Andrew Jackson’s reign of terror upended entire communities and caused irreparable harm to indigenous populations. The hope today is that we learned from those despicable actions and will not repeat them. Yet, under Trump’s administration, we are continuously failing to move forward towards a more just society.
President Trump’s actions do matter. It matters what Trump does if you are a government worker who for 35 days did not receive a paycheck. It matters if you are a transgender military member, whose entire livelihood was deemed illegal. It matters if you are an undocumented immigrant who lives in constant fear that the government will throw you in jail, despite the claim in your article that we live in a country where no such thing happens. It matters if you are someone who has encountered the inexperienced and regressive circuit court judges Trump has appointed all over the country. It matters if you’re suffering from abuse and may no longer receive help because Trump’s administration has changed the legal definition of domestic violence.
On the international stage, the U.S. has seen it’s stock drop. Pew Research Center, Gallup, The Economist and others have collected evidence that international trust in the United States has fallen since Trump was elected. That also matters.
Sure, maybe people will go home and eat Hawaiian pizza for dinner. Unless they are one of nearly 40 million Americans who live in poverty. And maybe they will watch Netflix. That is, unless they are one of nearly 19 million Americans without internet service. And I suppose they will sleep soundly in their beds through the night. Unless they are one of the half-a-million homeless persons who have no such bed to go to.
At best, this article does nothing to alleviate the growing polarization of this country; at worst, it is a defeatist excuse that decreases the already slim hope of bipartisanship.