Standard Deviations: Time to talk about the elephant and donkey in the room
It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room.
And, the donkey.
With the presidential election just a month away, we need to have a frank discussion about the current state of U.S. politics. You know how they say that the two things you should never talk about in polite society are politics and religion?
Well, fortunately for us, social media — combined with anonymous posting in discussion forums — have effectively driven a stake through the heart of any polite society that may have once existed. So we don’t have to worry about that little nicety anymore.
To those of you already burned out on discussions of the 2016 presidential election: Don’t look at me. I’ve been a good boy.
Unlike my conservative friends, I haven’t been posting stuff on Facebook about how Hillary Clinton should be rotting in a federal prison somewhere. And unlike my liberal pals, I haven’t been taking to Twitter to insist that anyone voting for Donald Trump is a racist misogynist. Or a misogynistic racist. Or just plain stupid.
But now it’s my turn, because there are a few things about this election I’d like to get off my chest. Frankly, as Popeye the Sailor Man so eloquently puts it: “I’ve had all I can stands; I can’t stands no more.”
I’m angry at Trump. I’m angry at Clinton. But mostly, I’m angry at those Americans so determined to get one of these flawed characters into the White House (or keep the other out) that they would quite literally say or do anything, truth be damned, to make it happen.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a registered Democrat — although I’ve voted for my share of Republicans over the years. Furthermore, I suppose I should preface what follows by telling you that I’ll be voting Clinton for no other reason than I believe she’s the better candidate.
As such, I feel that qualifies me to be able to offer a little friendly advice to my fellow Democrats. And you Republicans might consider taking some of this to heart, too.
1. Quit trumping up Trump’s buffoonery.
Donald Trump has said dozens of horrid things over the last year. Possibly hundreds. What say we stick to those? In other words, there are plenty of actual Trumpisms to choose from without manufacturing more. So, for example, I wish people would stop saying Trump has hinted about shooting Clinton. He no more suggested someone should assassinate his opponent than she suggested someone should assassinate her opponent back in 2008.
It’s the same silly scare tactics Republicans have made the coin of the realm in recent years. C’mon, Dems. You’re supposed to be better than that.
2. Quit telling people the reason folks hate Clinton is because she’s a woman.
A Salt Lake City radio deejay tried to tell a national audience that Utah Democrats supported Bernie Sanders in the primary election because their patriarchal sensibilities wouldn’t allow them to vote for a woman. And a number of friends on social media in recent weeks have shared posts suggesting the problem people have with Clinton is that she’s female.
Do you have any idea how silly and condescending — not to mention inaccurate — it is to imply the reason large numbers of people are voting a certain way is because they just don’t like women? Or blacks? Or white Mormons? It’s like dismissing folks’ reservations about Trump by saying it’s just because they don’t like orange hair.
Imagine how stupid Republicans would sound accusing voters of rejecting Sarah Palin simply because she’s a woman.
3. Quit betting against the United States.
The U.S. is strong enough to survive a Donald Trump presidency. Just barely, perhaps, but strong enough nonetheless. It’s also strong enough to survive Hillary Clinton.
There’s an old saying among Mormons about the way their church sends tens of thousands of teenagers throughout the world to proclaim the gospel. “If the church wasn’t true,” the old joke goes, “the missionaries would have destroyed it a long time ago.”
By the same token, if our form of government wasn’t the real deal, politicians on both sides of the aisle would have destroyed it long ago.
I suppose that one of these days, the law of averages might catch up with us and this great country could fall. But it won’t be because of who’s in the White House. It’ll be because, after that person is elected, we as a nation can’t find a way to set aside our differences, exercise a little give and take, and work toward the common good.
4. If your candidate loses, don’t be an ass. And that goes double for those of you whose candidate wins.
Four years ago, I watched as Facebook “friends” continued to badmouth Mitt Romney and the Republican Party long after the election. That’s about as classy as a sports team prevailing on the scoreboard, then after the game telling their opponent what losers they are. Not cool.
If there’s one thing little league taught me, it’s to be gracious in defeat and even more gracious in victory. Because while being a sore loser is unflattering, being a sore winner is inexcusable.
Whatever the outcome on Nov. 8, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still friends, neighbors, coworkers — and yes, even social media acquaintances. We’re supposed to be one nation, indivisible. Not Republicans, not Democrats, just Americans.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.