Trump Election Should Inspire Hope and Action

Comments 39

statue of liberty
The school levy passed in my town.

Because of that, maybe our schools won’t deteriorate, and maybe student performance won’t suffer, and maybe parents with the financial means won’t move to another town with better schools, and maybe then my town’s tax revenue and property values and long-term health and wellness won’t suffer.

I don’t know.

But I think I know that the school levy passing—despite not having a child in the public school system—is likely to impact my life more than the President of the United States does.

I say that because, since I was born in 1979, we’ve had a Democrat, a Republican, a Republican, a Democrat, a Republican, a Democrat, and now—beginning in January—another Republican.

I can’t look you in the eye and tell you that my life would have veered dramatically in another direction had any of those previous elections yielded different results.

I’m not big on talking about candidates I vote for because politics is divisive and I care more about NOT being divisive than I care about any particular political issue.

But given the realities of the 2016 shit show we called an election, I’m comfortable sharing that I neither voted for President-Elect Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton.

There are approximately 150 million U.S. citizens eligible to run for president. And in the end, Americans were asked to choose between two people, BOTH of whom were DISLIKED by 60% of registered voters.

Please skip to the next sentence, People Offended by Profanity, but how in the blue fuck does THAT happen? Because that seems totally unreasonable.

My third-grade son asked me recently as we were driving somewhere: “Hey dad! Who do you like better between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?”

I thought for a moment: “Well, bud. That’s a little bit like asking me whether I’d rather eat poop or drink pee,” which he thought was super-funny because, you know, third grade.

I continued, but felt a little bit like how teachers must feel when they teach little kids that white pilgrims in fancy black hats and Native Americans in feathered headbands sat together peacefully on Thanksgiving in the 1600s eating cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie: “What usually happens is that two people run for president and each of them shares their ideas for how to help people and make our country the best place it can possibly be. Both people want the same good things to happen, but have different ideas for how to do it. And then we vote for the person with the ideas we agree with the most.”

“Which person do you agree with most?” he asked.

I thought a little more: “I guess I agree with a little bit from both of them. The problem is that I don’t particularly like or trust either of them. And it’s more important to me to like and trust someone than it is for me to agree with them.”

The Most Important Things

That was a big moment for me. When I realized that I value things like character, trustworthiness, and likability more than I do a particular political ideology.

Think about how often you have disagreed with your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your best friends. When push comes to shove, don’t we—more often than not—want those people we know and love standing with us, or representing us more than we do people who share the same likes, interests, opinions, etc.?

Something I learned about me this election cycle is that I’m more inclined to vote for someone I like and disagree with than I am for someone I agree with, but dislike.

I’m a pretty moderate guy, so it’s easy for me to shake my head in surprise at the 2016 presidential election results without getting as emotional about it as others are feeling.

I respect and understand that people with differing political opinions will feel much differently in both directions along the political spectrum.

There are political issues pertaining to this election which have little effect on my day-to-day life, but which DO affect the lives of other people in other places, and I’m not insensitive to, nor unaware of, that reality.

Not unlike how husbands and wives sometimes have strongly opposing viewpoints in their marital disagreements, I wish more people would remember that the beliefs and feelings people have about politics (or any subject) make PERFECT sense in the context of that individual’s specific life experience.

We like to call each other stupid.

Maybe some of us are.

But we’re just different. Like a husband and wife might be, or like someone from Japan versus someone from Switzerland might be.

Japanese nor Swiss people are “weird” or “wrong” for being born and raised in Japan or Switzerland. They are EXACTLY who and what anyone would be if they were born into identical circumstances.

So when we ask a Japanese citizen and a Swiss citizen for their opinion, and they differ from, or oppose, the others, one or both of them are not stupid.

It would be weird if they were anything but what they are.

What if We Had Two (or More) Amazing Candidates From Which to Choose?

James Altucher, one of my favorite writers, wrote that he doesn’t vote in general elections.

“I have no political anti-establishment reason for not voting. I’m not an anarchist. I just don’t see why I should vote.

“A vote is a choice between two elaborate theatrical productions…

“It’s a choice between the aesthetics of Star Wars versus Indiana Jones.

“It’s a vote to see which artist more cleverly evokes our mythological and unconscious responses to the perilous world around us.”

I don’t know how to criticize what James wrote here. How is he wrong? He’s not.

We award the most prominent and potentially important job in the country—possibly the world—to whoever fudges truth, avoids scandal and smears opponents most effectively.

I hope even the most ardent Hillary supporters and/or Trump haters can find it within themselves to see the one (in my opinion) objectively good thing to come from Trump’s election regardless of how effective or ineffectively he holds office: ANYONE with a loud-enough microphone can have their ideas heard and be elected to public office.

This reminds me of the time I learned about that big, glistening ballsack being photographed with children. Because Mr. Balls proves anything is possible.

Maybe We Could Change Things If We Didn’t Do What We Always Do

You know that thing you do?

Where you REALLY give a shit about politics for a few weeks or months leading up to an election, and then once it’s over—whether or not your preferred candidates win—you tune out and get back to the business of worrying about car payments, binge-watching Netflix, job hunting, your favorite sports team, Hollywood gossip, paying for your kids’ college, etc.?

I get it. That’s pretty much what I do.

But whether you’re the kind of person who believes Trump is an answer to our frustrations with Washington politics as usual, or believes he’s a threat to our way of life, or who simply shares my dismay at the idea that we were put in the position of electing a president from two people fundamentally DISLIKED and UNTRUSTED by six out of 10 voters, I hope you’ll agree:

This can’t happen again.

Do you want real-life human beings untarnished by the Washington political machine—people with the intellect, talent, and temperament to instill authentic change—to be elected into office?

Now is the time to find and informally nominate those people. Now is the time to start building social media campaigns. Now is the time to start getting those people in front of the 2020 voters.

We can sit around waiting for the machine to spit out some more canned candidates which inspire hatred, criminal charges, and Twitter wars; or we can find kind, sane, smart people—the kind of people you know at work, or in town, or leading an organization—and we can start introducing the BEST PEOPLE with the best ideas to the future voters craving the kind of leadership EVERYONE will respect and follow, even during disagreement.

Like people struggling in their troubled marriages, this is either one of the most-important things in the world and a problem worth putting in effort to solve.

Or it’s not.

In which case, has everybody seen the new Rogue One movie trailer?

39 thoughts on “Trump Election Should Inspire Hope and Action”

          1. Ha! I caught that yesterday and changed it. Mental lapse, thoughtlessly confusing Columbus’ 1492 voyage with the Mayflower much, much later. I was embarrassed about the oversight. For whatever that’s worth.

            Now your comment makes perfect sense to me. Obvs. 🙂

            Thank you, Katia. Facts matter.

  1. I think James is wrong to not vote because in our completely messed up democratic system, it is still a privilege to vote for the best theatrics…. just sayin’. Because if everyone started thinking and acting like him, we could really be on the tracks toward something really awful.

    ps – I didn’t vote for either, either!

  2. I agree, Matt. And I don’t mind telling about my vote publicly. I voted Johnson as a dissenting vote against the two-party system, against both of their candidates being steeped in flaws from being dislike to open correuption leaked all over the place and proven for all to see from whistleblowers and numerous other issues. I have several friends around the country who wrote-in McMullen. I know a lot of people who care deeply and who endeavor to get informed much earlier than the apparent standard we see around us. I’m an all the time person myself. It’s just not an option for me to play thenapathy card for three years or three years and several months or whatever other variation. I did not want a Trump or Hillary. But I’m at peace today with my conscience and my country, well accept for the local family courts, lol. There is plenty to be happy about on the horizon.

  3. Is it safe to come out?

    *peeks cautiously in…*

    All I can say is I’m glad it wasn’t me who was faced with your choice.

    We live in interesting times!

  4. You did not vote? Wouw! That’s amazing. It is not about two bad canditates but there is one who is a racist, sexists, wants to build walls — and our german wall “fell” down exactly today. So I am shocked by your opinion. It is not important whether hillary is bad, it is about, do we want more hitler-berlusconi-erdoğans?

        1. In the United States we often talk about our “two party” political system that gives us two primary candidates, one representing the Democrats and the other the Republicans, but there are a handful of other parties or political groups with choices for president on the ballot. (I believe there were five or six including one other woman.) Unfortunately voters typically feel like voting for one of these other candidates, the ones you’ll hear very little about in the media, is a wasted vote. We end up choosing someone we don’t really agree with or like because the third party candidates have basically no chance of winning. Instead of voting for who we think would make a great leader, we feel compelled to vote for whoever we see as the lesser of two evils. And, frankly, that’s probably how Trump won this election.
          Personally I looked at these two offensive candidates and thought “I can’t vote for either of these people and not feel bad about doing so”. So I didn’t. I voted for another guy. Even if my vote didn’t do much, I expressed my disappointment and disapproval of the choices the two big parties gave me. So, I still voted, just not for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

          1. Yes. This is a solid breakdown of what I was referring to.

            I forgot that anyone unfamiliar with U.S. voting wouldn’t necessarily understand my meaning.

            Thanks for explaining this. 🙂

          2. Ah! I always thought you have only two choices. We call that a protest vote in Gernany. So then I am sorry for my comment. I got the american voting system wrong.

            We have three main “left” parties in Germany but onky one important conservative party. So you can imagine what happens there ;-). The main left party looses votes if there’s something the people don’t like. They thevote for another, smaller left party which helps the conservatives instead.

            Voting can be quite tricky and is a case for thorough mathematical analyses. XD But do we do a mathematical analysisbefore voting? Me, not, I have plenty of things to do and cannot prepare too long for an election.

          3. A protest vote is a good name for it, though I would not have been disappointed had the guy I voted for magically won.
            No need to apologize. I’m not sure if all Americans know that they have more than two choices for president. The last time a third party candidate was even included in the debates was in 1992. I think people hoped Bernie Sanders would campaign as an independent but I’m pretty sure his run for the Democratic nomination precluded him from doing that.

          4. Yes of course, protest votes can be meant earnestly for the canditate / party but knowing that there is no real chance still leaves it to protest. The other way round a lot of people don’t vote their dream canditate because they think it’s like a lost “voice”. Also stupid. Whatever you do is not optimal 🙁
            I would prefer different voting systems, it comes to mathematical thoughts again like “is there a more realistic model which reveals a consensus for the population” or sth like that…

  5. why aren’t you publishing the reply I made earlier in regards to you being a white unaffected male ? I love your blog and have sent it to tons of friends, but this particular blog, in my opinion, was short sighted and very selfish of you.

    1. oh, I thought you screened the post since my earlier one didn’t come thru…. I guess there was a gliche.

    2. I don’t know what you mean, Judy.

      I am not intentionally not publishing a comment from you. Is one missing?

      Of course I’m a white, unaffected male. I said as much in this post.

      I’m sorry you think it’s selfish. I stand by what I’ve written here.

      If people want great leadership, the work must begin NOW. Right now.

      Stop sitting around waiting for the news to tell us which three or four candidates we must choose from. And let’s choose ourselves.

      People care during the emotions of elections. Then they check out.

      And then, shit happens.

      When we aren’t actively engaged and paying attention, bad things happen.

      Just like health. Just like our children. Just like our relationships.

      Just like Life.

  6. I had a conversation very similar to this entire post with my 17 year old son this morning.
    We talked about the importance of voting on the local issues and candidates and how that affects our lives as much, if not more than, who is president. We talked about voting based on your values, not just who you think is going to win and the flaws in our two party system. But most importantly we talked about the importance of being a decent person no matter who the president is. Because even if our president elect spews small minded, hateful crap, that does not mean that that’s who we are as a people or as individuals. Who you voted for is a lot more complicated than what we hear the candidates say through the filter of the media…Overall it was pretty cool to have the opportunity to talk about these things with my (technically) almost adult son.

    Things feel crazy today but the bottom line is that we still only have the ability to control our own actions and behaviors…so if you want the world to be a better place just don’t be an asshole.

  7. For me, the deciding moment was when the Russians starting doing civil defense drills with 40 million people, and deploying state of the art, nuclear-tipped Satan missiles into Europe, and basically said “If you Americans elect Hillary, you best prepare for a nuclear war – we sure are. But if you elect Trump, we expect peace.” That made up my mind, as I am generally anti-nuclear holocaust and Armageddon.

    And I don’t pick favorites. I voted Obama in 2008, since Insane McCain wanted to stay in Iraq and fight for “a hundred years”…and he wanted a war with Iran, and probably Russia too (he wanted to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO! How batschit crazy is that?). And I voted Trump this time for the same reason. We need peace, and Hillary is a warmonger. She helped Dubya and the neocons destroy Iraq, she almost single handedly destroyed Libya, and she wants us to destroy what’s left of Syria. (Oh, and she pushed her husband to bomb Serbia in 1999). She wants to impose a no-fly zone in Syria that would have us in a position of shooting down Russian fighter jets. Think about that. 1914, anyone?

    Dona Nobis Pacem. May God bless Donald Trump, guide him rightly, and bring us peace!

    1. If you remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis, and monitored Russia Today TV, this was absolutely a no-brainer. I recall the utter terror with complete clarity. My grandpa who’d come to America from Russia was staying with us. I don’t know why I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it to my parents – maybe because they wouldn’t have believed a girl not-quite-five understood the reality? But I asked my zayde why the Russians hated us and wanted to kill us. He did his best to explain that most of the Russians were just people like us, who went to school and work. He couldn’t calm me because I knew the Real Big Bosses wanted to bomb us, and I believed they were devils. I had nightmares for eight years. I freaked out when certain planes flew overhead and dreaded the 10 AM Friday siren. The “this is only a test” broadcast made me more frightened than my parents ever knew.

      When I saw Clinton purposely pushing the Russian president, a powerful man with amazing political acumen, and heard the opinions of the Russian people, I knew I would do anything to keep her out of office. Probably most readers here know only what they saw in the excellent movie “Thirteen Days,” but contemplation of nuclear war and deliberately pissing off Vladimir Putin was even worse than all that the other side said about her, for me.

      If you didn’t experience it, maybe you have some criticism of my choice. But nobody wins in a nuclear holocaust.

  8. I do agree that we have had the privilege of being able to vote for a president and forget about it. Most of any changes are typically benign and aren’t felt in our day to day life.

    There are a lot of fears that the same is not true this time.

    I am willing to say that maybe the fears are just fears, and chaos and destruction wont ensue. I am willing to see what actually happens, and allow it to be a moment of education for our country and for us individually.

    I echoed some of your same thoughts yesterday morning in regards to the peoples part in electing officials (ie- finding candidates, ect.), and also in how it is us, just the everyday people that need to be the leaders in how we treat each other.

    If we are afraid of mass mysogyny, and bigotry and hate, it is the everyday interactions that will make that true or not true.

    One thing I have thought about, that seems like a fair question is that: part of the reason that Trump was voted in was because he was a Washington outsider. (Do I agree that makes him anymore trustworthy, or looking out for the people’s best interest? – not by a long shot..)

    But, even if he were Bernie Sanders, or even in fact someone like Barak Obama (Who had good intentions to NOT fall into trap of being “a Washington politician” (read: lying, being two faced, not following through with promises)..I have to say that people will not get the results they want.

    Because the job requires dealing with conflicting ideas, conflicting power dynamics, and various limitations the only way to perform their job is to come out looking like a liar, or someone who is two faces or someone who doesnt follow through with their promises.

    Politicians arent “trustworthy”, because they cant be.

    So, that wasnt actually a question, but a thought- if anyone can clarify where I am thinking incorrectly that is welcomed.

    Personal take-away’s for me are
    Politics are about community. They are, in fact a way to care for your community.
    Being willing to be a part of local politics is important. Taking ownership of our government is a right and a privilege that we typically forfeit without much thought.

    Maybe this is just a catalyst for more intentional participation. It is certainly not just something we can forget about and move on.

  9. Pingback: Our Political System is Broken for the Same Reason Our Relationships End | Must Be This Tall To Ride

    1. It was no statement. I’ll no longer vote for a human being I don’t believe should be president.

      I fundamentally disagree with the “Lesser of Two Evils” mindset.

      It’s unacceptable that the country’s best and brightest and most noble and most intelligent and most honorable are NOT the people we choose from every four years to lead us.

      And it’s OUR fault. No matter which way we lean, politically.

      Too much finger-pointing going on.

      Our collective apathy caused this.

      1. I’m really glad you got to vote your conscience in this election. I despised one side and am terrified of the other. I have a number of friends whose marriages are at risk of being overturned by a conservative Supreme Court and their families essentially being legally dissolved. So, I held my nose and voted for our only real option. Now they have no idea what’s going to happen to their marriages and families.

        For someone who seems to be so invested in encouraging successful marriages, I’m appalled at the lack of empathy.

        There’s no need to respond. I’m done with this blog.

    2. This is what my first post was about that somehow I didn’t submit correctly 2 days ago.

      Exactly! This election was completely different from any other where we aren’t that happy with either candidate. Trump, judging from observing 2 years of behavior, is certifiable; having at least one of the 10 personality disorders (Narcissist). A vote for a 3rd party was a vote for Trump. I would venture that 98% of those that voted for a 3rd party had no clue of positive/negative/ issues/ background of any of those that were running….. I could go on. These candidate could easily possess all of the negatives that they were attempting to avoid by not voting for one of the candidates from the 2 primary parties. I guess when you are an unaffected white male (as opposed to every other person Trump called out that he wanted to negatively effect)… who cares right? Feels to me like some of the descriptions of the shitty husband.

      After that rant and a couple of days to ponder how I might look hopefully forward, I have mostly come to this point with it all……. of course only time will tell where this is going to take our country, but hoping big things will be learned by all of us from the election and it’s ripple effects. I’ve always said to myself to get me thru difficult personal struggles, I know I am in for something really good to come my way after going thru all of this sh*t. Staying hopeful that this will hold true for America!

  10. I appreciate you posting that as it gave me more insight into the position you’re coming from. And with that knowledge, I will back out of this conversation.

  11. Another 3rd party voter here and I agree with you, 100%.

    Here in the state of MN, we usually have >70% voter turnout. We sometimes will tongue-in-cheek refer to that as the Ventura effect. And it’s not dissimilar to what the nation is experiencing now. Y’all should have learned from us, man…. (Side note – interesting article here from July:

    What is far more telling is that roughly 46% of voters didn’t show up. So, if we round this….about 25% people picked Clinton, 25% picked Trump, and half picked someone else or bowed out. So look around you… 1 in 4 elected Trump. (More in the rural counties, generally.)

    But almost one in two – nearly every other person you encounter at the bank, the airport, the grocery store – couldn’t be bothered.

    THAT is the problem. The apathy couch is overstuffed and far too comfortable. Perhaps this election is a sign of wear and a spring will poke through.

    MN got through this. The US will too. I have too much faith in what DOES make this country great to not believe that.

  12. Matt, I’m genuinely curious: when you evaluated the presidential candidates, did their stances on marriage influence you in any way? I ask because marriage and divorce is obviously the bread and butter of this site, and the candidates had VERY different philosophies on marriage.

    I have a close family member in a same-sex marriage that the winning candidate has indicated he will work to overturn, so not having a loved one forcibly divorced was a big priority for me when deciding who to vote for. But I get the impression from this post, that you either don’t support gay people getting married, or it’s just not something that’s on your radar. But perhaps I’m mistaken.

  13. I would have voted for Trump, if I could have gotten back to the USA in time. I would have rather voted for Sanders over Trump, in a New York minute. But I didn’t have that choice. Clinton was just another wealthy elitist establishment career corrupt politician who had no problem swimming in the cesspool of politics with the other snakes and rats. Voting for her would be voting for a continuation of the same old same old. My only choice was Trump, so I rolled the dice of change, and I hope for the best. Again, I would have voted for Sanders.

    The democrats are very lucky Trump was obnoxious, rude, insulting, arrogant and shady, for if he had Sander’s qualities of honesty, trustworthiness and competency, there might not be a single democrat in elected office today. Thus, instead of an ass whipping at the polls, it would have been a massacre.

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