With the 2016 US Presidential Election in full swing, I cannot help but reflect. Republican candidate Ben Carson recently insinuated that no US President should be Muslim, and that a flat tax is advisable because the bible requires a 10% tithe. Republican candidate Donald Trump remarked that Mexico sends us its rapists and criminals. Republican candidate Scott Walker suggested building a wall to our north. Huckabee reminds us that climate change science is not yet settled. Mind-boggling ideas, all of them.
The concern is that these ideas are grounded not in fact or reality, but in a made-up narrative designed to appeal to a select set of voters. Candidates create narratives of climate change (lies!), guns (freedom!), and gay marriage (abominable!) using similarly delusional logic to appeal to voters.
None of this is really new; look at Romney’s campaign in 2012 and Bush’s in 2004. Romney veered hard to the right during the primaries, claiming that he would make conditions so tough that immigrants would want to self-deport. With Bush in 2004, Rover masterminded said on November 9, 2004 “that opposition to gay marriage was one of the most powerful forces in American politics today and that politicians ignored it at their peril.”
My concern is where this all ends. Huge political problems exist in the world, ISIS and Syria for one. Climate change looms large. Inequality grows. And while ISIS, climate change, and inequality are vastly different issues, the next US President must address them all head on. More importantly, the next US President must acknowledge that such problems even exist. Combating extremism with extreme statements – that a Muslim cannot be president, that climate change does not exist, that growing inequality does not somehow hollow-out the very core of our country – is extremely concerning.
May cooler heads prevail.