I‘ve been thinking this thought over for the past couple of months. Why is it that people who support Trump are literally suspending logic and their own ideology in order to support someone who they once detested? Trump was once dismissed by the “right” because he was pro-choice, anti-gun, and a heretic with respect to endless “conservative” principles.
It doesn’t make sense; how can they have such clear animosity towards Hillary Clinton yet now love Trump, who has been Hillary and Bill’s best feral friend for decades? I mean how is it “family value voters” could rationalize supporting a man who has been thrice divorced and has, on copious occasions, had sexual ideations about his own daughter live on TV!
But upon closer inspection lately, it started to make sense. I actually understand it really because, not too long ago, I occupied that same irrational exuberance where politics made my morality and my adoration situational.
Let’s rewind the clock to 2006 when I was caught up with the rest of my “liberal” denizen in the anger and hatred of all things George W. Bush. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not disavowing my outrage against the excesses of the Bush administration; but hindsight has led me to a revelation that my indignation was vacuous at best because I kept seeing injustice through a partisan lens.
Anyone or any view that was anti-Bush made me pro that person or that view. I remember my blood boiling when Colin Powell went to the United Nations and lied to the world about the reasons we were about to invade Iraq. The Iraq war was a decade in the making—Project for a New American Century drew up ways to control oil reserves back in 1996 and how to project power into the 21st century. Besides, the weapons of mass destruction were the same weapons our military industrial regiment gave to Saddam to begin with.
So hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives perished for an illegal and immoral war just so our corporate government could get its hands on the oil reserves of Iraq. A crime against humanity and Colin Powell was complicit as George Bush; General Colin L. Powell gave cover and legitimacy to a war that was illegitimate and befitting of a Hague trial. Colin Powell, who I once admired, became a henchman worthy of contempt; a man who traded his morality for authority and lost both in the process.
But then a twist of fate made me change my mind about Colin Powell faster than Sarah Palin makes grammatical errors. Colin came out in support of Barack Obama, the candidate who spoke to my resentments and gave hope that my voice would finally be heard. All the sudden, whatever anger and rage I had against Colin vanished into the ether. This same man who I once thought of as a war criminal all the sudden became my political hero. His sins became virtues overnight—he went from a craven partisan to a courageous warrior.
Was it because he apologized for the Iraq war or because he begged on bent knees in contrition for the genocide that our government committed in Iraq? Nope, the only “act of courage” that Colin displayed was supporting the politician who back then I adored and thought of as a sojourner. See, politics can make us do the impossible, it bends logic as it makes us hail demons as angels the minute they identify with our grievances.
I could list endless other instances where my politics dictated my morality. I remember how I used to loathe Kenneth Starr because he went after “my president” Clinton back in the 90s only to warm up to Starr when he joined Clinton’s side in the 2000s. When Obama appointed the current Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, I decided to ignore the fact that Ash Carter was part of the same Project for New American Century that drew up the Iraq war back in 1996 to begin with.
And of course I spent most of the last 8 years looking away over and over again as Obama got more neo-con with it than the most ardent neo-con in the Bush administration. Obama came in promising no more wars, he doubled down and gave us more wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen while continuing the same wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The outrage I once had towards Bush, as he tilted the playing field to the wealthy by passing a $400 billion dollar tax cut to the 1%, was nullified as “my president” Obama gave 25 times as much to the same 1% through bogus monetary schemes/scams.
This is what politics does to us; it makes our morality situational and obliterates our sense of ethics. Instead, we put on political goggles and we view the world through the lens of “our perspective”. So when demagogues come along preaching our anger or playing on our grievance, we suspend common sense and latch on to the chicanery of these duplicitous snakes. It takes the gravity of reality mugging us into dissonance to actually wake us up from seeing the world and justice through the prism of a political partisan.
It is with the wisdom of hindsight and the knowledge that came with life’s struggles that I finally understand how humanity gets manipulated to follow shysters who work against our common interests. This is why I keep saying it is insane to label Trump supporters as racists; they are just doing what Obama supporters like me did not too long ago. When people feel like their voice is not being heard and see the world through the lens of politics, they will latch on to politicians who give voice to their anger irrespective of logic.
Not too long ago Cleveland Cavaliers fans hated LeBron James when he defected to the Miami Heat. They held rallies where they burned his jersey in public and every symbol of their once “favored son” was erased from existence in Cleveland in ways that Joseph Stalin would blush over. But lo and behold, when James headed back to Cleveland, all was forgiven and the same people who were once burning LeBron’s jersey are now worshiping at the idol of 23.
Sound familiar? This is what politics does to us as well. The same people who we once abhorred all the sudden become the apple in our eyes. It’s sad really, politics is nothing more than a sport for most people these days, most who have outrage express it through the narrow perspective of partisanship. Except politics is not a sport even though too many view it as such. Indignation rings hollow as partisans and political tools cheer on the same transgressions of “their team”, whether their team is Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative and the myriad of ways we keep getting splintered, only to hoot and holler while frothing at the mouth when the “other side” does the same thing.
So if you catch yourself getting outraged by Trump supporters, pause for a second and ask yourself, are you not guilty of the very same things as you give pass to your side of the isle? I know what is going to happen, the same people who have been cheering on Obama for the past 8 years as he has gone on to commit the same economic and foreign policy atrocities that Bush perpetuated will all the sudden find their outrage when Trump does the same thing.
And in the same way, the same crowd who was beside themselves as Obama was expanding executive authority in ways never witnessed in history will now be mum when Trump takes the baton and partakes in the same executive imperialism. They love Trump because Trump is giving voice to their outrage the same way “liberals” instantly embraced former Bush backers who converted to Bush detractors.
But boy are Trump supporters in for a rude awakening the same way rational folks who once supported Obama got a venomous punch to the gut by reality. Trump has already reneged on campaign promises to prosecute Hillary, hedged on his promise to “build the wall” and he won’t repeal “Obamacare” because it’s a cash cow for the insurance industry. He’s not even sworn in and he’s already eviscerated most of his campaign promises. But just like how Obama fans continue to fawn over their “dear leader”, Trump fans will keep coming up with ways to rationalize the new con artist in chief who is replacing our current commander in empty suit.
Once I got out of the political bubble, I finally started to see how our common anger is subverted by the cauldron of political ghettos—as in how we are ghettoized (wall off) into islands apart from others. Over this past year and a half I’ve talked to endless people on all side of the political spectrum, color line and ideological viewpoints; every day I realize more and more that everyone is expressing the same level of outrage against a system that rewards immorality and kneecaps decent and honest people.
Sadly, we let our political differences and isms overwhelm our common struggles. This is how natural allies get defeated by the 1%; by fighting each other instead of uniting to take on the powerful who make their lives unbearable. But we are literally tightening the vices on ourselves; these politicians and pundits are getting paid handsomely by their corporate patrons to shatter us into islands of resentment. We have become a society of lemmings blindly following the pied pipers who use race, identity and ideologies to lead right into the abyss. That cliff is coming soon, wake up or else it will be the bottom of the cliff that finally unites us.
Moral of the story: politics is poisonous, it bends our morality so that we view the world not through right and wrong but through the idiocy of right versus left. And this is how politicians, both left and right, fleece us. It’s a thin line between “left” and right”; politics isn’t linear, it’s a loop and ignorance is full circle.
Teodrose was born in Ethiopia the same year Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by the communist Derg junta. The great grandson five generations removed of Atse (emperor) Tewodros Kassa II, the greatest king of Ethiopia, Teodrose is clearly influenced by the history and his connection to Ethiopia. Through his experiences growing up as first generation refugee in America, Teodrose writes poignantly about the universal experiences of joys, pains and a hope for a better tomorrow that binds all of humanity.
Teodrose has written extensively about the intersection of politics, economic policies, identity, and history. He is the author of "Serendipity's Trace" and newly released "Soul to Soil", two works that inspect the ways we are dissected as a people and shows how we can overcome injustice through the inclusive vision of togetherness.