Our reaction to the success of candidate Donald Trump ranges from clutching pearls to grasping straws. Future historians, with their time-distance and increased omniscience, will best be able to explain the totality of this moment, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to do it now. My favorite silliness comes from former Governor Bobby Jindal who said Obama is to blame for being too cool-headed and nuanced.
But I contend that Trump is not the problem – we are.
Let me count the ways.
- Every Teapartier who rested on their fiscally principled laurels while racists and xenophobes overran their rallies.
- Every person who squandered their platform trying to blame the “liberal media” for focusing on those racists and xenophobes rather than making it perfectly clear that those folks are not welcome at Tea Party rallies.
- Every strategist who tacitly or openly embraced those folks because it meant another vote for their team.
- Every person who belittles attempts at kindness and inclusiveness as PC. (Try this at home: When you feel like doing this, substitute “treating people with respect” for “PC.”)
- Every person who chuckles or looks away in silence when inappropriate jokes are made or offensive stories are told, because s/he doesn’t want to make things uncomfortable.
- Every person who tries to muddy the water by accusing people who embrace tolerance of intolerance because they don’t tolerate bigotry.
- Every person who has confused the terms opponent and enemy.
- Every person who turns to the ubiquitous propaganda machines masking as media outlets who do nothing but peddle hatred and outrage for money.
We built this mess every time we looked the other way when we should have spoken up.