It’s been surreal watching people excuse the words of Republican presidential candidates–most prominently but nothing like exclusively Donald Trump–as empty rhetoric we don’t really have to worry about. I wrote this on Facebook yesterday, in the aftermath of the murders at Planned Parenthood. Someone asked for it to be sharable as a blog post as well.
Once upon a time, a politician telling you he (mostly “he” then) was pro-life meant that you knew who contributed to his campaign. He wasn’t going to actually do much of anything about it. He could get elected talking about it, but action risked re-election in most places. Besides, the courts weren’t terribly friendly to the idea. He could point to them if his constituents wanted to know why he wasn’t getting anywhere.
As a country, we got comfortable electing these people. It didn’t do any harm, you see. Abortion wasn’t really in danger. We could vote for the people who promised us comfort in suburbia, safety from the furreign and dark people, freedom to become rich, good gas prices, or whatever other illusion they thought would appeal. We didn’t have to be responsible.
But there were always true believers among those men positioning themselves as righteous. We didn’t believe they’d fuck with the courts, because theirs was supposed to be empty rhetoric. They did it anyway; they care about their beliefs, not ours.
While they were there, they changed the rules to make it easier to bring more true believers in. Then they did. Then they acted on the promises they’d been making for decades. They kept on acting on them, because we kept on voting for them as though the promises they made were still empty. In particular, the people who talk about politics have not been able to shake this belief because it dovetails so perfectly with the cynicism that lets us comment on politics like sports.
I don’t know how to fix this problem, but I do know this: When someone tells you they will hurt you, believe them. Maybe they’ll never find the chance on their own, but whatever you do, don’t hand that opportunity to them.