The Positive Side of the Trump Presidency
Maybe it’s a good thing that Trump is president.
No, dear reader, I haven’t given myself an icepick lobotomy, excised my sense of morality, and joined the fetid, repugnant ranks of the alt-right. I am not suggesting that Trump has grown into the role of president and matured. Nor am I saying that the policies he’s implemented while in office have been positively effective. I have nothing positive to say about Trump, other than possibly the reaction some people have had to his existence.
Of course, public reaction to Trump has not been wholly, maybe not even largely, positive. There’s been the rise of the aforementioned human shitsmears of the alt-right, as well as even more brazen racists, bigots and proudly self-identifying nazis. There has also been, as a result of the effect Trump has had on other politicians, or on them vicariously through his effect on constituents, to skew further to the Right, away from even the presumption of ethical human behavior. He has brought out the worst elements of society, by his presence given the worst people our country has to offer a platform, a position from which they can spout their vile rhetoric, no longer feeling bound by the implicit standard that you do not behave like a fucking asshole and say disgusting, idiotic things in public. Not, at least, without repercussions. The racists, xenophobes, misogynists, and all those falling under the broad umbrella of mindless and soulless bigots, have since Trump’s rise been acting with a sense of impunity.
This is a bad thing, yes, but there is also a good side to it. While it is bad that these cancerous sphincters have been empowered, it is better that they do so publicly. As my granddaddy never said: “It’s better to have a tumor on your face than in your prostate.” Better to have the expressions of horrible illness manifest themselves openly, the easier to identify and hopefully remove them. While white supremacists and other assorted malignant tumors have their guy in office, representing white male American privilege in all its hypocrisy and vainglorious ignorance, and capitalist elitism to boot, they have been given a misbegotten confidence in the veracity of their asinine worldviews, and have on many occasions put themselves on blast, believing their side to now have popular support. While hate groups and hateful individuals have gotten a boost in popularity, forming little gangs with lame slang and rules about masturbation, they are still not a dominant force. It is still the position of the majority, with varying levels of vehemence, that these people are assholes, scum not worthy of respect. And the good part of this is that by them outing themselves, not reserving their idiot vitriol solely for private venues, they’ve made it easier for the rest of us to shame and ostracize them. Yes, it would be ideal if these people didn’t exist, or that their beliefs did not, but better that they are openly identifiable so that we can get them fired or kicked off the PTA. In emboldening them, they’ve been made easier to remove.
There has also been an increase in progressive activism. While nearly all those who have been making waves recently under the banners of progressivism and democratic socialism are not nearly as progressive or adherent to socialist philosophy as purported, or as much as I’d like, any popular support in that direction is desirable and overdue. This has never been a country of the Left. For all the talk of liberal democratic values, of liberty and freedom, a nation for the people and by the people, the United States government has always been a conservative one; it has always been an iniquitous state in which the status quo systems of capitalism and class have fostered inequality among its people. Politics have in this nation always skewed, at best, to right of center. The promise of candidates on the ostensible Left to refuse corporate campaign donations and support the enactment of universal healthcare coverage are steps in the right direction, but they’re hardly radical, and only progressive by comparison to the agenda of the Right. But it is still a good thing, that people are expressing these views and that there is some positive movement.
These may not seem like major accomplishments. That’s because they’re not. Nothing material has actually been done, and we’ve no reason to believe anything will be, but that people actually give a shit is itself nearly an accomplishment. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, things would still be bad. Not as bad as under Trump, but as I’ve expressed many times before, that is not the standard by which we should measure: Better than Trump does not mean at all good. Clinton would have given us more of the same, pulling our country further to the right, if less perceptibly, with only the veneer of respectability. If Clinton were president, it would be an even smaller minority championing the merits of socialism and progressive reform. People would care less about our flawed immigration policies if not for the monstrousness of Trump’s execution of them. The movement demanding action against the climate crisis would be far smaller and less vocal if not for the braying jackass in the highest seat of power being a vocal climate change denier. As unfortunate and perhaps cynical as it is, perhaps we needed Trump. The world needs villains to remind others how to act halfway decent.