How could Donald Trump conceivably be good for us and for the USA? I’m glad you asked!
Most of us appreciate that the normally low norm of juvenile political dysfunction in our country has degenerated over the last few decades down into an unsustainable and unacceptable low of incivility and internecine warfare. We have not quite reached a Mad Max level of dysfunction, but we’re getting uncomfortably and embarrassingly close.
We have always been proud of a certain level of dysfunction baked into our system of government. By design, we see great value in our system of check-and-balances in which each official and unofficial branch of government challenges the others to ensure that none of them run amok. A certain level of conflict is desired and expected.
However, if carried too far, healthy checks-and-balances can easily degrade into automatic knee-jerk obstruction and mindless attacks. Imagine a football team in which healthy competition between players degrades into “I don’t care if we win this game. I only care if my teammates score less than me. If my teammates get injured, all the better for me!”
That is the very level of self-destructive behavior that our government has degraded into. As much as our system of government benefits from a measure of good-natured competition, it simply cannot function when the prevailing attitude is “destroy the other guy at all costs.” If the various groups refuse to cooperate and instead focus exclusively on winning and beating the other side, then healthy competition breaks down and becomes counter-productive and self-destructive.
Over the last few decades this is exactly what has happened in politics. Others could point to a different progression, but in my lifetime I have to point to the Clinton hearings as when it turned truly nasty. The Republicans pledged to “bring down” Bill Clinton even before he was sworn into office, and they put 100% of their energy into that. They virtually brought all responsible governance to complete halt while they prosecuted their incessant and relentless attacks on Clinton.
Unfortunately for all of us, this infighting has only continued to get worse from there. And frankly this war has been largely waged by Conservatives who have continued to escalate each year. They have lost all interest in moving our country forward and instead are doggedly fixated on simply destroying anything and anyone that does not identify with them. And they don’t even actually have an agenda. Their agenda is largely whatever hurts or at least does not help the other side and they are happy to burn down the nation if it diminishes their opponents.
So, is it any surprise that out of this climate of rabid, raving, insensate political ideologues, someone like Donald Trump should emerge as their leader? As clearly crazy and incompetent as he is, he is still a welcome breath of fresh air by comparison to the status quo that has emerged. He actually offers some hope amidst the angry, incompetent, government-loathing, self-interested dogmatic extremists that have completely taken over the Republican Party for far too long.
Here’s how this may be a good thing. Trump is a slap in the face of our self-image. He could be just the drenching of cold-frigid water that we need to wake up and snap out of our routine of mindless attacks and rigidly partisan childishness. Perhaps he will force pundits, political fight-promoters in the media, voters, and even Conservative leaders to step back a moment and ask, is this us? Is this the US? Is this as good as we can be?
I think for every American with a shred of sanity remaining, the answer has to be no. We can do much better. We must do much better. We can dial back our senseless Hatfield and McCoy feuding and work together to accomplish great and good things.
If Donald Trump succeeds in showing us just how far we have sunk, if he incites us only to step back and self-assess our behavior, he may have offered our nation the greatest service possible just when it is most desperately needed.