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November 3, 2016

Hijacked by Politics -- ACT III

All right, let’s have one more for the road.

By this time next week, the election will be over.  We can say goodbye to all of the madness, the mudslinging, and misery -- so we can say hello to a brand new wave of madness, mudslinging, and misery.  I’ve been keeping an eye on the political landscape ever since that fateful Monday with the first night of the Republican national convention; it hasn’t been a pleasant journey.  I’m pretty sure I’ve aged 82.6 years in the time since for varied yet obvious reasons.

A new chapter is about to begin, and that means a lot of things.  Obviously, a lot of them are less than ideal.  Will Trump accept a loss if it’s dealt to him?  Will Clinton stay on the straight and narrow if she’s elected?  Are we in for an onslaught of open bigotry?  Of corrupt schemes?  Is there enough unrest for people on either side to wage war -- physically, mentally, socially, culturally, whatever -- on anyone who doesn’t agree with them?  And what’s going to become of America at large?  What’ll become of the world at large?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping for the best, as I always do.  But at the very least?  If our past, present, and future are all part of one sprawling story, then it’s exactly as I just said: a new chapter is about to begin, and we’re turning the page on the old one.  The often silly, mostly stupid one.

It’s funny, though.  I was under the impression that there are two things you’re never supposed to talk about: religion and politics.  But this election has been on everyone’s lips (and minds) for a while now.  I’m sure that’s true of every election year, so this one isn’t that big of an anomaly -- at least on the surface.  I think the core of it ties back to a brief conversation I had the other day, where I admitted that I voted for Clinton.  I did so with a bit of hesitation, because I thought that you’re definitely not supposed to mention your presidential pick out loud.  But I wasn’t going to stand up there and lie, so I didn’t.

Thankfully, the guy I talked to didn’t give me any trouble for it.  I didn’t ask him who he voted for (because I have a weird line of reasoning and set of social graces), but he was quick to mention that he hoped a third candidate would pop up…even though there are technically other options, but they’re probably not as viable as the core two.  The way he talked, it sounded as if he didn’t even intend to vote.  In his words, “One’s a bigot, and the other’s a criminal.  Who do you choose?”  He had a point, or at least the semblance of one.  This election is bizarre, and I don’t blame anyone for being disillusioned by the choices on tap this time around.  With that in mind, I’m making this post because there are still three questions I have in mind.  And I’m going to tackle them for just a hint of inner peace.

So here’s the first question: why did I vote for Hillary Clinton?

There’s not much point in pretending I didn’t do otherwise.  The last two posts implied my stance weeks in advance, and I don’t think I’ve left any clues in the 4+ years of this blog that I’d align with…that guy.  So yes, I voted for Clinton, and no, I don’t regret it.  At this stage, she seems like the only choice.  That sounds like a begrudging admission of loyalty, I know, but don’t worry.  I can make a case for myself, if not the potential president of the United States.

It’s hard to deny the baggage that Clinton’s brought with her into this race, right up to its final days.  You can’t bring her up without some golden buzzwords like “emails” or “Benghazi”.  Her name is almost (if not definitively) synonymous with “corruption”, to the point where conspiracies and distrust dog her no matter what she does -- including making it to this point over fan favorites like Bernie Sanders.  She’s a liar, she’s a cheater, she’s a thief, she’s crooked, she’s got no charisma, she’s got no stamina, et cetera, et cetera.  She’s the devil in a pants suit, in the eyes of a select few.  At least, I hope it’s a select few.

Is Clinton guilty?  Was she ever?  Did she con her way into power and wealth?  Is she going to make decisions just to profit herself and a small cadre of comrades?  If she takes the Oval Office, then are we in for at least four years of unbridled corruption?  I don’t know.  I don’t know what she’s guilty of, and what she’s innocent for.  At this stage, I doubt we’ll ever know the whole truth.  Or maybe we will.  We’ll see. 

Either way, the fact that she managed to go on this race with all of that baggage -- with a stigma that even someone with surface-level interest in politics can suck up -- means that she turned what should’ve been an easy win for the Democrats into a bitter fight till the end.  The fact that we had to talk about emails again, barely two weeks before the leader of the free world is chosen, makes me think that maybe we should’ve gone with someone with a clean slate.  The battle between Nixon and Kennedy all those years ago taught the world that image is pretty friggin’ important for a president -- and even if Clinton is the raddest, baddest CIC in the making, her image she doesn’t have a good image.

Would things have gone much more smoothly if Bernie Sanders made it to the last round?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But maybe if he won the nomination, then we wouldn’t have to keep up this “lesser of two evils” mentality that has every right to scare people off.

Here’s the thing, though.  Even if I can’t speak for others, I can still say that I confidently voted for Clinton despite her baggage.  Why?  Because in a sense, the vote is asking people a simple question: “Who do you think is best suited to be the president of the United States?”  That’s it.  Well, it’s also asking who you want to be in other governmental offices, but the core question is still the main attraction.  And my answer to the core question is Clinton, because of reasons both obvious and obscure.

She has way more experience.  That’s a given when your husband was president once upon a time, but she’s also served as a senator and secretary of state.  For that reason alone, she’s much more qualified for the job -- and when you tack on stuff like years of civil service and initiatives to make life better for Americans of all kinds, it pushes her even further over the edge.  I don’t think I can completely absolve her of guilt (such as it is), but I’m personally willing to set it aside.  Not quite forgive and forget, but nowhere near an outright rejection.

You know why?  Everything up to this point -- the debates, the rallies, et al -- has shown why Clinton deserves to be in the White House again.  But she’s done stuff to prove why she should stay there.  She’s admitted that her handling of the email fiasco was a mistake, and she won’t take that route again.  And when prompted about Obamacare, she explained that there are some things that work and some that don’t, so she’d try to fix them while in office.  If she’s going to be elected, then she’ll be there for the next four years.  It’s a role that needs fluidity and insight -- the ability to act and react as needed in the face of challenges across the globe.  Near as I can tell, she has the wisdom to assess situations, even if they’re less than ideal.  She has the courage to stand firm, with composure as unbreakable as a titanium wall.  And if elected, she’d have the power to do what’s necessary -- for us, and others.

Does it matter what she did up to this point?  Yes.  But what matters more is what she’ll do from here on.  And if we’re being honest, I kind of want our leader to be the total package.

Now here’s the second question: is Donald Trump the real-life version of Dio?

The answer is a resounding, booming, everlasting NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  But having put some serious time into JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure -- coincidentally, right before the English dub started airing on Toonami -- I’ve been thinking about some of the stuff I said the first time around.  I compared Trump to the infamous villain Dio Brando (and DIO, later on), and it looks like I’m not the only one; various viewers of the dub have said Dio is basically a walking reference to Trump.  That probably has something to do with stealing a kiss and treating a young lady like meat on a stick. 

Call it serendipity, then.  Trump and JoJo (and I, to a lesser extent) just so happened to sync up at the perfect moment.  Still, I wouldn’t dream of comparing the fictional character and the living anomaly, mostly because doing so feels like an insult to JoJo and its creator.  I wouldn’t blame anyone in the slightest for calling Trump a villain, but let’s be clear here: the Republicans’ “champion” is only the villain in this story because of sheer incompetence.  And before you ask: I’m blaming reality itself for said incompetence, not just Trump.

Seeing him get as far as he did -- to the point where he was even an option/Republican candidate -- was a mistake.  It shouldn’t have happened, yet somehow he slipped through the cracks and now stands within a hair’s breadth of sitting in one of the most powerful chairs on the planet.  Everything up from that one moment weeks ago has been distressing to watch, to say the least.  And it’s been distressing, because it doesn’t seem like a concerted, focused effort.  It’s a mess -- a string of stupid events chained together in the hopes of building a quality narrative. 

Spoilers: it’s not working.

There are many, many, many reasons why Dio is the popular villain he is today, with a legacy that’s endured over decades.  Yes, we have memes to thank for his adoration.  Yes, he’s ridiculously and unrepentantly evil.  Yes, he’s got powers that would break any other story he entered.  Still, there’s more to him than that, and they’re all qualities that Trump is missing.  Well among them: the fact that Trump doesn’t have a set-in-stone rival to push him to his absolute limits, and/or spark a transformation that even a blind man could see.

Although if we’re being honest?  Even if it’s nowhere near a one-to-one comparison, I can’t help but laugh at the idea of Clinton being a stand-in for Jonathan Joestar.

Clinton is technically Trump’s rival, but I’d say that at this point, the greatest threat to his presidency is Trump himself.  As absurd as it may sound, his lack of the qualities that make Dio a great villain are what make Trump incapable of seizing the office.  For one thing, Dio is capable of change; whether he’s dealt a defeat by his rival or has his plans come to fruition, there’s progression for his character on a small and large scale.  Comparatively, Trump hasn’t changed in any way except dive into a downward spriral -- which may just simply be his way of exposing his true self, meaning he’s somehow made even less of a change.

Trump doesn’t have Dio’s cunning or ability to assess a situation.  Whereas the vampire villain can use his cunning to preserve his life (or steal it from foes), the business mogul would sooner gnaw off everything below the knee than make even the slightest course correction…or, heaven forbid, apologize.  Trump doesn’t have Dio’s range of thought and emotion.  Dio can oscillate between a cold, calculating schemer and a raving lunatic as needed, but Trump only has one setting -- blustery blowhard --and at best only dials it down on occasion…or ratchets it up 300%.  Trump doesn’t have Dio’s ability to captivate hearts and minds.  I know that sounds contradictory given Trump’s fan base, but since a good chunk of the country is probably willing to vote just to slam a giant middle finger in his face, I’d say he’s a bit lacking in the charm department.

The worst part about it is that Dio, in one incarnation or another, is interesting.  Trump isn’t.  It’s been the same antics, again and again, day in and day out.  It’s worse than sad, and maybe even worse than distressing (but only just so).  Trump is boring.  We know he lies.  We know he says stupid stuff.  We know he flubs facts.  We know how he treats other people -- people of any race, color, orientation, or physical ability.  We know about his attitude.  We know pretty much everything there is to know about him that’s relevant to this election, because it’s been the same story.

It’s the same few chapters, down to the same few pages -- over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over.  Dio, the fictional character created almost thirty years ago, has more nuance and intrigue than a man who’s been around -- and in our world -- for more than twice as long.  We get insights into Dio’s character that add texture and intrigue.  We get the same thing for Trump, sure, but A) it’s repeated ad nauseum, and B) it’s as welcome a revelation as being told water is wet.

Pretty much the only thing Trump successfully carries over from Dio is hubris.  Granted, that’s a good trait to carry over for a villain, but let’s just take a minute to remember that Trump is supposed to be running for president, not the bloodthirsty conqueror of Earth.

And now for the third question: what’s next for Donald Trump?

I’m no fortune teller, so I don’t know what the future holds.  Maybe in spite of everything, Trump will end up being the winner in this race.  I seriously doubt it.  I hope it doesn’t happen.  But the fact that he’s made it this far means that the door’s still cracked; he can get in there if the fates allow it.  If it actually ends up happening, it’s just something we’ll have to accept over the next four years.  As I’ve said before, we can all individually govern and guide ourselves -- maybe not in terms of making sweeping political reforms, but we can still act with will and reason to have some positive effect in the world.  That’s a given, right?  So whether Clinton or Trump wins the presidency, neither one has the power to dictate every last aspect of our lives.  There’s influence by proxy, sure, but last I checked?  Obama didn’t force me to eat waffles this morning.  I think we’ll all be at least a little okay.

But again, I’m betting that Trump is going to lose.  And if he does, then what happens?  There’s been a lot of talk about him starting a new media venture called Trump TV, though he’s long since denied those plans (for what that’s worth).  He’s due in court for several debacles, including sexual misconduct against a then-thirteen-year-old girl.  He’ll still have his businesses to fall back on, but they’ve no doubt taken a hit by being associated with a man who dug himself deeper with golden phrases like “bad hombres” and “such a nasty woman”.  He’s made it this far, and -- health permitting -- he’ll keep on going.

You know what, though?  I really, truly, sincerely hope that Donald Trump gets help.

I have a hard time believing in Trump.  I don’t feel as if I can trust him, regardless of what title he holds.  I can’t forgive him for what he’s said and done -- especially because a lot of what he’s said and done was built on the backbone of head-slapping stupidity.  But as easy as it is to hate him, and as easy as it is to laugh at him, he’s still a human being.  As a human being -- as someone surrounded by human beings -- then the right thing to do is to extend a hand.  Help out those who need it.  Clearly, Trump is one of those people.

I think it was Dan from Game Grumps who said that even if there’s nothing really wrong with you, it wouldn’t hurt to visit a doctor and get stuff sorted out.  It’s a fair point; we could all use help every now and then, especially in the mental space where so much can go wrong.  So given that there are theories floating around about how Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, or one of several attention disorders, or dementia, or Alzheimer’s, or whatever, I think the time has come for people to treat him like a person instead of a god-emperor or sentient noxious miasma.

It doesn’t even have to be a case of having Trump sit on the couch and look at ink blots.  His mentality is one where sprawling chunks of America are in turmoil and disarray, which would explain his “Make America Great Again” slogan in spades.  True, not every neighborhood in every state is peachy keen -- but the way he talks, he makes it sound as if we’re living in a Mad Max knockoff.  I hope that someday, someone can open his eyes.  I hope that someone can help him out, and see that the world’s borders reach farther than he can imagine -- that in the end, there aren’t really borders at all.

Even if Trump is beyond redemption, it may be possible for him to reform.  I want to believe it’s possible, at least.  Like it or not, he’s a man with an immense amount of influence, and he has the rabid fans to prove it.  But if he can be shown the error of his ways -- the many, many, many errors of his ways -- then maybe he won’t have to be anyone’s enemy.  Maybe he can course correct.  Maybe he can learn something new and valuable, and then pass off that new knowledge to others.  By improving himself, he improves others.

But that’s a naïve sentiment, I know.  It depends on whether or not someone has the willpower to effectively recondition Trump, not to mention their chances of success.  It all banks on whether or not Trump is willing to accept help, or insights, or any opinion that clashes with his.  If he’s capable of learning that, hey, maybe saying that a debate moderator is wrong in the face of documented fact isn’t a good idea, then that’s great.  If he can be taught about consequences, empathy, and teamwork, then maybe he can take steps toward being more than just a joke on Saturday Night Live.

If he’s not capable, then it’s over. And on most days, it seems like that’s the case.  We’re talking about a man that’s in his seventies; “change” is about as close to him as Pluto is to Earth.  If he was going to change, or reform, or get help, he would’ve done it before vying for president.  But the fact that he went full tilt on this thing, doubling down and burning bridges and spreading lies and breeding hate, means that he’s a good candidate for quarantine.  That, or having his mouth duct taped shut. 

Alternatively, we can ban him from using Twitter -- or at least let someone play overseer so “tweeting at 3 AM about a beauty queen’s alleged sex tape” doesn’t become part of any national headlines.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know politics very well.  By this time next year, I’m going to go back to my usual, ignorant self on the subject -- and I’m actually looking forward to it.  I don’t feel like obsessing over this subject when there’s Kamen Rider to slobber over; I certainly can’t stand the fact that I’m compulsively checking r/politics to see “what Trump did this time”.  I want this election to be over, just like plenty of other people out there.

I mean that.  And yes, I know that it technically won’t be “over”.  We have to deal with the fallout, come what may.  Still, this period in American history -- this chapter, in a story without end -- is almost at a close.  It dragged on for far too long with no focus on the main plot and lots of terrible dialogue, but the page is finally, finally, finally about to turn.  Now we can move on to something else.  Now I can move on.  Now Clinton, and Trump, and Obama, and all the rest can move on.

The story isn’t over.  And because it isn’t over -- because we’re active participants in it, not just a captive audience -- there’s so much that can happen.  Some of it will be good.  Some of it will be bad.  Some of it will be inevitable.  But as one person or as a whole, we can all do something to make the world a better place.  That’s what I believe in, more than political parties, presidents, or policies.  The leader of the executive branch may be in prime position to act as a hero, but we can all be each other’s heroes.  We just have to give it a try.

And we will.  No matter who wins and who loses, you can count on that.

There.  Now can we all please shut the hell up about emails?

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