I’m just as surprised as anyone that Donald Trump is doing as well as he is doing. It’s baffling; despite who he is, what he does, and what he says, he consistently places first in primary polls everywhere. Often by double digits, no less. It may be because I’m a business hating liberal, but no one should be looking at Trump and think, “yeah, that guy should be the most powerful man in the free world.” And yet millions of Americans are.
But this isn’t another editorial about how Trump is a terrible candidate, because honestly, all slavoes against Trump make him stronger. Actually, I’d like to open by talking about the Republican consistently placing second in these polls: Ben Carson.
Ben Carson shares a lot of positions with your typical modern Republican, and on paper he seems like a good choice for the Republican nominee. Then he opens his mouth. He got some weird looks for saying that the Affordable Care Act was the worst thing since slavery. He’s gotten a lot of flak recently for saying that a Muslim should never be president because of Sharia Law. He even went as far as to cite prison rape as indisputable evidence that being gay is a choice. Carson may speak softer than Trump, but he carries a much wackier stick.
But the worst part about Carson is the support he enjoys. That comment about Muslims he made? That got him the admiration of many on the right. When people got justifiably angry about his remark, they jumped to his defense saying that the rest of America is just too politically correct. Hell, his campaign is now raising more money than ever since his remarks. Just how Trump’s popularity baffles me, it also baffles me that a blatant discriminatory remark would earn admiration.
Carson is of course getting flak for what he said, but the fact that he’s winning supporters due to this should not be the case. Yet he’s constantly second in polls across the nation.
This is what our political landscape has become; where people clearly not fit for governance are met with roaring cheers from a significant part of the populous, and where anyone actually fit is shoved to the side, or worse, is jeered into submission. And we deserve it.
The state of the Republican primary, the state of our government, and the state of our political landscape has been pinned on many things. But one thing that must be accepted is that voters brought it on themselves. At the end of the day, it was their choice to put these destructive, polarizing politicians into office. It was they who voted for men and women who proudly ran on a platform of not compromising and tearing down the government. They were chosen precisely because they had no experience, as if that was an admirable quality. People have no right to be shocked or angry about how our officials are tearing apart the government.
It’s easy to blame something else. Many people blame the disproportionate (and admittedly unfair) influence the wealthy that has been exacerbated by Citizen’s United. And it's true that their money has bought a good deal of airwaves, allowing them to control the message. It’s also true that their money help shape legislative agendas through campaign contributions and lobbying. But at the end of the day, the wealthy cannot buy a person’s vote. People, at the end of the day, are still in charge of who gets into office. They have no one to blame but themselves.
I am not saying that voting conservative is the same as voting for this government to continue its downward slide. The government can still do great things when placed into the hands of moderate conservatives. But many of the conservatives that we elect or pay attention to are not those. Many are those that despise government and are content with shutting down everything without offering an alternative. Yet we chose to elect those people, and our government, and our nation as a whole, is worse off for it.
We vote for these people because we allow ourselves to be easily swayed. We allow ourselves to be caught by meaningless slogans, flag waving, and Constitution thumping, that we are willing to overlook the fact that these people will destroy the very institution we’re sending them to. We don’t look at what they’re saying, and we don’t stop to consider the consequences of choosing an inexperienced, uncompromising politician to run our nation. We allow ourselves to fall for backwards logic that expertise and experience are things to be shunned. As such, this is the government we brought on ourselves.
But all's not lost. We get the government we deserve, and if we educate ourselves, we can again have a government worth believing in. We must be more cynical; take every slogan or reference to our Constitution with a grain of salt. We must prize an ethic to work, not an ethic to destroy. We must toute a willingness to compromise, not willful uncooperation. Cynicism and better judgement are the key to a better government.
Voter may have brought Trump, Carson, and our dysfunctional government on themselves. But regardless of what the wealthy or politicians do or say, they cannot take away our ability to make an informed decision. We may get the government we deserve, but that can work in our favor with a healthy dose of cynicism and self discipline.