I’m making this blog for a very simple reason: I believe that checks and balances are a fundamental feature of the United States government.
That seems irrelevant to blogging. However, if you’re like me, you spent a better part of Election 2016’s build up critiquing the media and its coverage of the candidates and the issues. I can dive into my criticisms in other posts. Suffice to say, I thought it was lackluster and enabled a demagogue – arguably a fascist – to get into office. Worse, it normalized abhorrent viewpoints and conversations.
Free press is a pivotal characteristic of representative democracies. It functions as an informal check of government power. My own opinion is that the media abandoned its role in this election. Worse, Donald Trump has directly assaulted this principle through unwieldy abuse of the law — and that’s just as a private citizen. Building on this, I believe a trade off in a democracy is that we are all accountable for its health.
Much of the post-election autopsy will be spent reflecting on the role the media played in Donald Trump’s election. I plan to write about that a bit in the future, myself. For now, the salient question is: what can the average citizen do to ensure America maintains the basic characteristics and institutions pivotal to maintaining a free society? A follow-up question is: how accountable am I for this outcome, and what is my responsibility after?
Thus I turn back to blogging. The democratization of media reporting has created an unfortunate supply of “post-fact” websites. I have no intention of engaging in such reporting. This is just a space for me to editorialize; I’ll be frank about that. Nevertheless, the part of my life I’m most grateful for is the exposure to diverse points of view, and this has occurred primarily through the Internet.
My first goal here is to commit my thoughts to “paper.” That’s just for my own sanity. There’s something cathartic about organizing and memorializing what thoughts otherwise jumbled in your head.
My second goal is to publicize those thoughts. The most galling aspect of this election was the normalization of fascistic, racist, sexist and other unforgivable language. I’ve regularly criticized various media for sanitizing the words of Donald Trump and his supporters. Maybe that’s not their role and maybe it is. The main point is that I can commit to take my Facebook rants and put them somewhere visible to push back in whatever way I can.
Finally, my last goal is hear what other people have to say, even if those people are just friends kind enough to glance at this blog.
As a millennial, a large part of my young adult life can be characterized by the Internet, including reading blogs and discussing assorted topics on public forums. I moderate a subreddit devoted entirely to changing peoples’ views and keeping an open mind. Through this medium, I’ve discovered the value of surrounding myself with people who disagree with me and, more importantly, come from different walks of life, even if these people periodically piss me off with their perspectives.
Using this as a space to find my own editorial voice and solicit robust discourse with other people is about the best way I think I, as an average person, can make some contribution in Trump’s America. Without exaggeration, I think this in itself is rebellion against a platform characterized fear, manipulation, lies, and demagoguery. I simply will not allow the level of dialogue to deteriorate, and I will not stand by idly while people on the conversational front lines seemingly flee their post.
I don’t know if Donald Trump’s presidency will be that bad. His ambitions certainly seemed despotic. Still, I don’t think that matters as much as the fact that I believe his electoral success was a referendum on American cultural values, and I think the values that “won” are intrinsically bad. My privilege will show here, but I grew up in a Republican household reading Friedman and Hayek. I nonetheless voted Clinton because of this value referendum. An America that expresses such disdain for other human beings because of race, creed, ethnicity, etc. is the anathema of the kind of Republic we should aspire to keep. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and say no, you move.