We Can Fix What Trump Broke If We Stop Him Now

The great thing about America is that when we vote, we can turn things around very quickly. We have a chance to do that once again.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“The one thing I want my kids to know about America when they get out of school is that the worst day in America beats the best day in any other country,” said a burly man named Jason Moore at a public hearing on the content of history books in Texas to a very supportive and appreciative audience. After the applause died down, he went on to add that it seems pretty easy to him to do that and decry what he saw as an obsession over America’s faults.

Now, I can’t claim to have spent my life exploring the world, but I’ve been to and lived in enough countries to have my brow instinctively shoot upwards at Mr. Moore’s demand. Technically, he’s right. It is pretty easy to teach kids that the worst day in America beats the best day in any other nation on Earth, but has he asked anyone, much less himself, if that’s really true?

As an immigrant, I can tell you that I’ll absolutely take the worst day in the U.S. over the best day in Russia or Ukraine in a heartbeat. But the best day in Canada or Japan? I’ve had some very good days in those countries and trust me, they were very much on par with my best days in America. If you consider that they’re both very wealthy, industrialized nations with thriving economies and high standards of living, this really shouldn’t be a surprise.

Under the framework of patriotism, other nations are also allowed to be good and solve major problems using tactics and approaches from which we can borrow to fix our own shortcomings. Patriots love their countries, warts and all, understand that it takes work to keep it on top, and refuse to settle for the status quo, knowing full well that their country can do even better, like teachers who keep pushing their students to score higher and tackle more advanced topics.

And if things aren’t going well, patriots don’t love their country any less. They fight like hell to fix whatever is ailing it. So when the country in question refuses to love them back — as Doc Rivers so poignantly put it in his emotional remarks about the injustices suffered by African-Americans in the United States — and brands them enemies of the state for trying to make things better, it’s a tragedy. Patriots and citizens end up in an abusive relationship with their homes thanks to the rabid nationalists who control them.

These nationalists rest comfortably in the self-imposed delusions that their states are perfect or near perfection, and are so exceptional that no other country on Earth could have anything to teach them since they’re all subpar shitholes by comparison. So, the aforementioned Mr. Moore was simply reciting the most common American nationalist talking points and insisted that Texan teachers repeat them as fact to his and everyone else’s children. Why?

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Is it because the same notion was drilled into his head his entire life and having to face the idea that it may not be objectively true terrifies and infuriates him? Every day in America, millions of children are being taught comfortable nationalistic lies just to make the adults around them feel better about the consequences of their votes over the last 40 years, and those adults have full-blown conniptions on social media when those kids start voicing their doubts, furiously accusing critics, experts, and activists of sinister conspiracies to drive them into extinction.

But the sad truth of the matter is that they refused to do the work and fell hook, line, and sinker for unhinged conspiracy theorists and oligarchs telling them that unless they saw their fellow citizens as enemies and allowed their “betters” to do as they pleased, they’d be sent to gulags while their children are sold into sex slavery for Satanic cannibalistic pedophiles. As a result, they put America firmly on the road to becoming a failed state, and an object of international pity and mockery while continually demanding that we pat them on the back for it and, ideally, give them an award and a cookie for the tremendous job they’ve done.

However, in spite of all of that, there is still something about America that makes it truly unique and exceptional, and still gives this jaded ex-Soviet cynic some hope for the future. Despite being the fourth largest country on the planet by land area and third by population, the United States has the incredible ability to turn itself on a dime. Pretty much no other nation can turn to tackle its problems as quickly and decisively, or is capable of throwing as much money and as many resources at pressing problems.

Over its history, America has walked up to the abyss again and again only to pull itself back with lightning speed. Yes, things may look really dark and hopeless at first glance but everything wrong today is fixable, and of all the countries in the world that can pull off a project of this ambition and magnitude, it’s the U.S. This is the country that sent people to the Moon just to make a point to the world, routinely lands rovers on Mars, and explores the solar system as if it’s an obvious thing to do, for fuck’s sake!

We can figure out education. We can figure out healthcare. We can figure out automation. We can figure out a transition to clean energy. We can figure out justice system reform, and yes, we can even restructure courts to severely blunt the last decade of tribalist corruption unleashed by a Senate that only cared about cramming benches with partisan demagogues while calling them “originalists” with the same persuasive power as a toddler cramming a cookie into his mouth as he insists that he’s never so much as even seen a cookie jar in his life.

We already have detailed plans to tackle all of these things and more by cross-disciplinary experts armed with many decades of experience. We have the money, the talent, and the infrastructure. Our problems today aren’t a function of the nation being broke, or at a loss for sharp minds with big and innovative ideas. They’re the end result of laziness, obstructionism for obstructionism’s sake, and misplaced priorities.

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All we have to do is vote for good people, and boot out the power-hungry, fear-mongering sociopaths who’ve infested our political system like leeches in a swamp. With the paranoid, rabid gerontocracy shown the door along with the kleptocratic barnacles using them for personal gain at our expense, we can roll up our sleeves and undo the damage. It won’t be easy and far from all of our problems will be solved overnight, but we’ll quickly end up in a much better place than we are right now if we can unleash the experts and politicians who will listen to them.

We can no longer afford to be apathetic about who occupies what office. That luxury is a thing of the past. But herein lies our opportunity. As the current system fails, we can either go down with the ship thanks to unhinged nationalists who obviously hate their fellow Americans a lot more than they love their country, or realize that the system no longer works for us and build one that does, one that doesn’t expect 19th-century solutions to fix 21st-century problems. That new system will be very different from what we’re used to and take multiple iterations to get right, but fighting the need to adapt with petty distractions and complaints about other countries is just fighting time itself. In the end, entropy will always win.

This is where you come in. If you haven’t voted yet, you have the time to educate yourself on the issues and make your voice heard. You can still take a stand against the Second World banana republic politics we’re being dragged into by graying politicos who’ve demonstrated that they literally don’t care if we live or die as long as we follow their marching orders to produce and consume so they can take credit for an artificially constructed, increasingly meaningless and irrelevant number going up.

If the thought of allowing a global superpower slip into irrelevance not because it was somehow inevitable, but because enough people refused to put in the effort doesn’t motivate you to cast your ballot, I honestly don’t know what will. Your vote won’t be a wave of a magic wand, but if American history is any guide, it can absolutely force a U-turn in the right direction. So, if you’re not one of the over 60 million early voters as of this writing, for what exactly are you waiting?

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Opinion // 2020 / America / Authoritarianism / Donald Trump / Elections / Nationalism