Thursday, August 3, 2017

What's the Point?

I haven't had much to say lately. It's not that there's been nothing of interest to write about. Just yesterday, two issues about which I have rather detailed opinions, immigration and affirmative action, appeared in the news. I thought maybe I would write about those opinions. But then I thought...What's the point? Do I really want to wade into another political mine field? The fact is that since each of these issues were introduced by the Trump administration, substitive dialogue is impossible. Anything I will say on these matters will be judged through the great distorting lens of Donald Trump. I will either be viewed as an irrational NeverTrumper, who above all else is committed to his destruction, or I will be judged as unfit for having the temerity of supporting any position taken by his administration. Call it the Trump Effect, destroyer of rational debate.

So, I will keep my opinions to myself this time around. I'll leave the playing field open to the twenty-something meme kings, the guys and girls who reduce complex public policy to pithy cartoon captions. Why waste time trudging through the 37 previous versions of immigration legistlation in this country's history to discover what the give and take and tension has all been about when it's so much easier to be made an instant expert by watching a really hilarious John Oliver bit? Why run the risk of writing an opinion about the pluses and minuses of affirmative action law when, one false move, and half of your readers will think you're a racist and the other half will think you're a hypocrite? The Trump Effect.

These are the real world consequences of polarization. When someone like Donald Trump comes along with his giant personality and his huge brand, opinions about such a man tend to harden. Those who love him, love him completely. Nothing the man can do will ever be able to separate him from their affections. Those who hate him, are repulsed by him, hate him completely. There is nothing he could do, no legistlation he could introduce which they could bring themselves to support. This is what polarization does to people and to nations, it divides us into camps, segregates us into factions, draws lines in the civic sand across which we dare not cross.

There have been many polarizing figures throughout history, Donald Trump isn't the first. It only feels worse with Trump because of our media saturated culture. If the Internet and the 24/7 news cycle had been around during Teddy Roosevelt's day, that would have been a circus too. Big mouth, big personality, combative views...yeah, Teddy would have been a mess. But, it's 2017, we elected Trump and now we must live with it. Part of living with it is understanding that wading into the middle of every argument he starts is a fool's errand.