Yes, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President. Yes, he is the same man who says utterly ridiculous, xenophobic and misogynistic things on the hour. No, he has never pretended to offer any substantive policy proposals to fix anything and yet here we are. Amazingly, Trump did not get here by force nor through some extortionist scheme. Millions of people actually went out to primaries and willingly voted for him. We keep pretending that isn’t true and ignoring this inconvenient fact will be our downfall. We are a nation stupid enough, ignorant enough and hateful enough to vote for this man. Defeating him this fall won’t fix that problem.
Hard as it may be we must come to terms with who America really is. Like any individual seeking to improve, the nation must first admit its flaws in order to confront them. A fact checker found that 78% of all Trump’s claims were in some way false. 78%. That someone can blatantly tell us lies and we not only find them credible but vote for them is an indictment on us. We are an ignorant nation. Period. Only 36% of Americans can name all three branches of government. Seriously. Only 1% of Americans can name the nine Supreme Court justices and only 34% can manage to name even one of them. But let’s forget all the trivia, how about the issues Trump is capitalizing on? His first priority is keeping Mexicans out of the country because they’re taking all the resources, allegedly. This begs the question of how many voters actually know something about NAFTA, the trade agreement that covers all of North America, including Mexico? How does NAFTA impact the flow of labor from Mexico? Are standards of living actually rising in Mexico or not? How can we evaluate Trump’s claims as an electorate without even this basic knowledge?
Trump has skillfully taken advantage of our ignorance, convincing millions that he is somehow a solution to all that ails them. What is truly frightening is that should he lose this fall there is nothing preventing an equally crazy individual from seizing the reins of power because our pre existing conditions of stupidity and ignorance would still remain. We are the nation content to let public schools rot and even close as we publicly fund sports stadiums. We are the nation that turns out strong to watch Dancing with the Stars and Empire but seldom listens to a public intellectual. These are choices that we as a nation gladly make everyday but now that Trump has seized his opportunity we are angry at him. He’s simply playing to the market and that market is our country. Being angry with Trump is like being mad with the salesman who sold you the car you wanted but is slightly beyond your desired budget.
If we truly are dissatisfied with how this election season has progressed and wish to never have a repeat of it we must change. As individuals we must devote ourselves to lifelong learning, as corny as that might sound. Each of us has to start stretching ourselves intellectually and glean wisdom from sources even outside of our comfort zone (if you’re a liberal it wouldn’t hurt to read some libertarian materials also). MSNBC or Fox News can’t be your only teacher–“take a look, it’s in a book.” As a country we have to start prioritizing education and not just for the kiddies. We have to begin investing in our national intelligence and demand to be informed–not just entertained. Trump might be bad news but he’s not the issue, it’s us.