I recently saw a meme depicting Donald Trump on a "Trump-Pence" podium in front of a crowd of pop culture villains including Darth Vader, the Joker, and the clown from "It." The caption read, "Trump selects his cabinet."
Here are a few members of this real-life super team: Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon is the self-proclaimed voice of the alt-right. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the guy who said the KKK wasn't too bad except for the pot-smoking part. Head of the EPA Myron Ebell is considered an eco-criminal for his denial of climate change.
A couple of the prospects would also fit right in. Potential Secretary of State Rudy Giuliani proudly wore a "Make Mexico Great Again" hat and potential Homeland Security Secretary Joe Arpaio infamously harassed immigrants as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.
The parallels to the fantasy world of costumed heroes and villains seem apparent to many who find their world ending. Hope for a bright future filled with love and peace is torn apart by the empowerment of white nationalists and the plastering of hate speech across the country. My minority friends feel disenfranchised and ignored by nearly half the country. My white straight male friends are empathetic to their dismay and also mourn the advent of hopelessness. It really seems like someone pressed a red button and an LCD timer is ticking down.
Our reality cannot be fully comprehended through the lens of a comic book fantasy. Marvel's latest blockbuster, "Doctor Strange," explores the depths of the metaphysical Marvel universe and portrayed an interesting take on the conception of existence. But my aunt pointed out to me that the movie essentially conveyed that the dark dimension is the largest part of that reality. As a result, existence is defined as a continual struggle to negate eternal darkness. Which implies that existence is a hopeless endeavor.
Dissecting a multi-million-dollar special effects entertainment behemoth to find philosophical verity is not illuminating but it is an exercise that allows us to see the bleakness of viewing the world as a good versus evil reality. The deciding element of the electorate was not the racist, sexist, xenophobic, white, straight men who some condemn to be unfit to vote but educated concerned citizens who saw the policies of the future Clinton administration as extremely dangerous to national stability.
For many of us, these "villains" are our siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who we have looked up to and learned our sense of morality from for all of our lives. The relationships we have always proclaimed thankfulness for are the ones that many of us are questioning as we prepare to celebrate them over Thanksgiving. Instead of finding fault in those around us, it might behoove us to question how we allowed this reality to take place. The knee-jerk reaction of many liberals has been to lash out at the forces they think are to blame.
One of the early victims of this outrage as news broke that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote was the Electoral College. Some are calling for electors to block the Trump presidency. But this could be one of the worst things we could do. To dismantle institutions that we have democratically agreed upon would set a dangerous precedent for future actions. What stops future abandonment of the social contract?
Another form of this scapegoating can be found in the argument about "fake news." Facebook is under fire as many blame it for promulgating fabricated news stories on its channels and not doing a better job at filtering them out. However, the filtering that many are calling for is essentially censorship. We are asking Facebook to tell us what news we should be allowed to look at. Perhaps an effective algorithm can be developed to filter "fake news" but it can also end up silencing a point of view and be an enabler of oppression, which seems contrary to the fundamental tenets of freedom that we affirm as members of a democracy.
Instead of fighting these battles it seems better to look inward as we come to acknowledge the failure of the Clinton campaign. Plenty of commentators spoke about the lack of campaigning in Wisconsin and Michigan. Even President Obama remarked that the only reason he himself won Iowa was that "[he] spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW hall," something Hillary Clinton did not seem to do.
People in these United States did not condone the rhetoric of the current President-elect but they find themselves aligned with the policy of the only person who seemed to be on their side. The Clinton campaign did not convey her plan for manufacturing or how she would help our seemingly eternal economic instability. It was rarely pointed out how Mr. Trump's economic plan is infeasible and his lack of experience greatly outweighs his fresh non-affiliation with the political world. The unfiltered prime time platform of three debates could have been perfect opportunities to relay these messages.
So how does one bring the message to those we disagreed? It starts by breaking the clichéd liberal bubble that we live in and acknowledging what we ignore.
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We ignore the inhabitants of parts of the rural United States where poverty is comparable only to third world countries. We think we understand the plight of poverty because we see it in our cities and we assume that all types of poverty are similar. A message of economic hope and change breathes more life into those in need.
We ignore those who are morally opposed to social issues because we categorize them as bigots. There are those that fundamentally believe that abortion is equivalent to murder and homosexuality is against natural law. As much as I disagree with their views, their voice and vote matters. Casting a large population aside not only polarizes and divides the country but also hurts our chances of compromise and a peaceful future.
We ignore the lower middle-class citizens burdened by the failures of the Affordable Care Act. These people fall into the category of individuals who can't get free healthcare but can still barely afford the options presented to them. They did not vote for Trump because they agreed with him but they truly believed they could not survive under a Clinton administration. More and more we can see that the people labeled as villains are really just the people we did not help.
In our ignorance, we allowed for the division between the Republican and Democratic parties to be so immense that a Trump administration looks like a team of super villains. As we slowly come to this realization we begin to fight this change with even more hatred. We see ourselves as heroes but we're really just blind vigilantes adding to the violence of our political system.
Over the next four years, it will become every liberally minded individual's mission to unseat President Trump in 2020. The only path to success will be a path of understanding and acceptance of those with different views and ways of life. It is time to be accountable for our part in this election cycle.
Nikhil Pulimood is a Trinity sophomore.