If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for even a few weeks, you may be well aware that I try to focus on fiction. Games, movies, TV shows, stuff like that -- the stories that circulate throughout our world, what’s good about them, what’s bad, and the general concepts worth taking away. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a pretty strong lean towards gaming, though -- whether it’s putting the industry under the microscope, or taking shots at Final Fantasy again (which I’ve found attracts readers faster than a mound of poop the size of a rhino attracts flies). But you don’t even need to be a longtime reader to know what I do. Just look at the header. Look at the layout. Cripes, the titles for all of the sidebar widgets are references to Street Fighter.
So it’s not like I have either interest or experience in talking about real-world stuff via this blog. I know where my expertise lies, and it’s not with politics. But just this once, I’m going to make an exception -- a “break glass in case of emergency” sort of post. If you’ve been keeping up with the news -- or more specifically, the fight to claim the White House for the next four years -- then you know what’s up. If you don’t? Maybe I’m being ignorant here, but…is it just me, or does this presidential race sound like something that’d make for a pretty striking (if bizarre) story?
I guess it’s like they say (the back half of which is now a major motion picture): truth is stranger than fiction.
Okay. So as of mid-July (give or take), the two main parties have their champions. The blue corner’s got Hillary Clinton, ready and waiting to put the family back in the Oval Office. The red corner has Donald Trump, a businessman who’s hit the political scene in a big way. Who’s going to take top honors and the metaphorical crown? I don’t know, but we’re set to find out in less than a hundred days. Better get ready for a real slobberknocker.
Now, before I go any further, I should probably reiterate that I’m not one for politics. The reason for that -- besides apathy -- is because it always felt like “the debate” was decided for me beforehand. My parents never forced me to be a diehard Democrat, but it was always more or less implied. “Republicans are the enemy,” my mom would indirectly suggest…and then there were times when she would directly say something like “Republicans are ruining everything.” So I guess I’m locked in by virtue of putting my trust in Democrats -- by virtue of believing that their way is the only way, and letting them take control would solve the world’s ills.
It certainly didn’t help that Barack Obama rose to prominence. Not only did I have to support (and trust) the Democrats, but I also had to support “the black one”, because holy crap, I’m black too.
See, this is why I don’t talk about politics.
This would be the part where I’d say “things used to be so simple”, but…I don’t know. Are things really any different? Unless there’s a major shake-up or catastrophe, then a year from now I probably won’t give a crap about what’s going on with the government, or Capitol Hill, or any of that stuff. For the time being, it seems like the choice has once again been made for me: I’ve been taught to trust the Democrats, so now I have to keep trusting them. Even thinking otherwise would be a disgrace to my family.
But in my defense, I’m not as passive about matters of the state as I used to be. You won’t see me at any rallies or starting up fundraisers, but I have been reading up. If anything, I can’t stop reading up; as a Reddit user, it was only a matter of time before I blew minute after minute sifting through articles mentioned on r/politics. Vox is a pretty solid website that compresses the news (and what it means) into straightforward posts. And I watched one of the national conventions via a YouTube stream…is what I would like to say. In reality, I tapped out of the Republican National Convention after what was probably the first hour on the first day. I just couldn’t handle it. And you can probably guess why.
Okay, granted Donald Trump didn’t show up for the first day, and there were more…concerns to be had at the convention besides The Apprentice star. But as the man out to become the next president -- and thus someone who needs all the followers he can get -- it’s hard for an outsider like me to get behind what he’s selling. Like, apparently one of the platforms for his (and the Republican) campaign is to push coal as a clean and valuable resource. I had a hard time believing that from the outset, and then a thirty-second Google search implied that coal is actually one of the most pollutant energy sources we’ve got. The only way you’d ever reason that coal’s worth pushing -- and bringing up the subject in regards to China -- is if you don’t believe in climate change. Oh, wait.
I’m struggling here. I’m trying to give Trump -- and Republicans -- the benefit of the doubt. Here’s the thing, though: I may not know politics, but I do know (relatively speaking) how to write. And every time I try to read one of Trump’s quotes, I’m just left saying “Wha-huh-whaaaaa?” and nursing a blooming headache. A huge number of his quotes or speeches -- at least those I’ve found -- are completely unintelligible. How am I supposed to believe in a guy whose ideas are baffling, and then he doubles down on that with words that are baffling?
But I think the bigger issue is that I find him fascinating -- for all the wrong reasons.
The other day I thought to myself, “Man, a character like Trump would make a great villain.” I know that a lot of people decry him as an idiot and/or a blowhard -- and by extension, something out of a comedy or parody -- but the concept is there, I think. The businessman has long since established himself as a person that can draw attention, and draw followers in kind. He’s hard to look away from, and harder to ignore. I’d bet that if you opened up Google right now, there’s a good chance that typing in “d” or “t” will immediately bring up Donald or Trump.
Obviously, he’s a powerful man thanks to the money at his command. But as a primary candidate in the presidential race, he wields an even greater power. He inspires loyalty and respect in his diehard believers, sometimes (or often, in some cases) to the point of feverishness. That’s the epitome of a superhuman ability, especially in this mundane world of ours that’s distinctly lacking in Stands. Trump has made it this far thanks to an ability to appeal to others -- however ungainly -- that were in dire need of a hero, a champion, a savior. Now they have it. And the idea of a man who can bend or distort the free will of others is captivating; in the wrong hands, someone with a villainous heart could crush as much or as little as he wanted.
So I guess the question now is simple: do I think Donald Trump is a villain? Or, do I think he’s the villain of this real-life story? And my answer to both of those questions is a simple no -- but with a qualifier. I can’t think of anything he’s said or done in the past few days (or weeks, or even months) that’d make me want to support him. Whether it’s pushing prospective voters into a tizzy stirred on by fear, hubris, and what might as well be social Luddism, or doing his best to prove that I know more about the world than he does, I can’t help but see him as a rival. Or, thanks to my Democratic brainwashing, he’s “the enemy”.
I try to see the best in everyone, and that includes Trump. With that said, I’m not willing to overlook what he’s done, is doing, and might do. That’s not to say I have complete, blind faith in Hillary Clinton, given that she’s also got plenty of controversies orbiting around her like Mars’ moons. Still, Trump in the spotlight just highlights how big of a problem he already is, long before he sets foot inside the White House. It’s a big “if” regarding his victory -- though from what I can gather, with constant detractions from others and abandonment by scores of collective Republicans, victory is slipping well beyond his grasp.
That might be the clincher, then. I’m not ready or willing to call Trump a villain, because it feels like he’s handily losing this fight. And what kind of baddie can’t tip the scales in his favor? I mean, besides a joke villain.
I know it’s way too early to call the results, but to me it almost feels like the narrative’s run its course. Trump’s major gaffes (like denouncing a Gold Star family, doubling down on the idea that Obama founded ISIS, and pointedly asking why we can’t just nuke the other side of the world) have won him no fans, except for maybe the ones that are already on his side. Can he bounce back? If he wants to stay in the race long enough to have a debate with Clinton, then he’ll pretty much have to. But it almost feels like the climax has happened; Trump’s exposed himself on a huge scale, and now people are turning their backs on him. His charisma is gone. His allure is gone. Or if not gone, then at least fading. And as his power wanes -- as he loses the core essence of what makes him an interesting villain -- he becomes a mortal man once again.
A mortal man whose quotes make very little sense. But I digress.
If there’s anyone reading this who’s offended by what I’ve said -- because talking about politics and throwing shade all willy-nilly is like taking a jackhammer to a hornet’s nest while playing the vuvuzela -- then I’ll be the first to apologize. I’m not attacking you, or what you believe in. If you’re still behind Trump, then that’s fine. Honestly, I’d like to hear why you’re behind him; I could use some straightforward talk on how he’ll “make America great again”. If you’re behind Clinton and the Democrats, then that’s fine too. Feel free to have your opinions, and voice them at your leisure.
And I’ll go ahead and do the same -- because I think I know which party I really support.
It’s pretty narrow-minded, I think, to consider someone -- yes, even Trump -- to be a straight-up villain. But with that said, I think it’s perfectly okay to think of the president as a hero (or heroine, if the blue corner takes it this November). I once said half-jokingly that anyone who wants to be the president is either insane or an idiot -- because who wants to deal with all of that pressure and responsibility? It’s true that there’s more to the government than just the president, what with the system of checks and balances in place. But the head of the executive branch is there for a reason. He’s the face. He’s the representative. He stands for something. Something of vast importance to others -- in the country, and out of it.
Obama’s victory almost a decade ago may very well have inspired untold numbers of black youths, and showed them what they can become with enough dedication. If Mrs. Clinton takes it, then women will have their turn -- and learn that they, too, can accomplish anything. In my rosy, color-soaked world, the president is a leader. A leader carries with them a huge swath of responsibilities, the safety and sanctity of his fellow men chief among them. By doing their best -- by being the very best they can be -- a good leader can drive others to do the same. And for all the right reasons.
That’s where my loyalties lie. I don’t care about Democrats or Republicans, or party lines, or any of that. If I’m going to put my faith in someone, I’ll put it behind someone who I know can lead the way. I want to believe in the right person -- the one who can conclusively represent the best of us, while also helping to elevate the rest of us. True, you can’t expect a leader -- president or otherwise -- to take the reins and systematically improve every aspect of our lives. We each have a personal responsibility to do our best, and whoever’s in the Oval Office thousands of miles away won’t have the time to micromanage the human spirit.
But he (or she!) won’t have to. The idea of the president is enough to at least ignite the spark. Wisdom and courage will help the commander in chief make the right decisions, and keep the people within America’s borders content. That’s in the job description. But the symbolic power, born from the responsibility and ascending beyond the pressures of the world, is the key element. We all need heroes -- and for as much scorn the government gets, I still believe that it’s more than possible for those ideals to live on.
A good president -- the right president -- can make that happen. And I sincerely hope that, when the race is over and won, we’ll have another hero leading our country to brighter days.
There. Now I can go back to whining about video games. As any self-respecting blogger would.