Thank You, Donald Trump
I’m going to take a page from Michelle Obama and “go high.” I would like to thank Donald Trump (and I write this without a trace of sarcasm) for making me think longer and harder about what it means to be an American than I have ever thought before.
Thank you for making me go back to the history books to learn and relearn more about the founding of our nation… Thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach my dual-citizen children about the American story and the electoral process as well as why the founding fathers, fallible as they were—real people with real problems—were so prescient and wise in how they shaped the early days of the nation. Thank you for making me review and renew what it means to be an individual American citizen as well as a global American citizen. Thank you for reminding me why it’s so essential to have a good education and to keep learning long after I’m out of school. Thank you for reminding me to be more critical of the media and also more appreciative of the hard-working journalists out there and why it’s critical to consume a wide range of newspapers and news shows, including the international press. Thank you for renewing my appreciation of brilliant satire. Thank you for making me think about what the role of a national leader really is and what qualities are imperative to perform the job well. Thank you for reminding me how precious my right to vote is, so that my voice can be heard.
Those are the words of a friend of mine, author and editor Gina Buonaguro (originally on Facebook; posted here with permission).
Donald Trump probably does not know enough about government to teach a high school course on the subject, but with the right kind of student, he can inadvertently be a good teacher.
What can I be thankful for having learned from him and his political success to date?
Here’s one thing: insofar as it is the role of philosophers to show how seemingly simple questions are rather quite complicated, to teach methods for exploring and assessing disagreement, and to cultivate in their students the attitude that having the right answer at the start is not as important as having it at the end, we have a lot of work ahead of us.
I think the most important things I’ve learned from this election is how easy people get swept up in a teamthink mentality and how important it is not to do so. We have a very serious problem when not only is this “you’re either with *us* or you’re with *them*” mentality making everyone despise each other, but also driving people to deny every heinous thing about their team’s candidate, eating up every lame excuse and red herring put in front of them.
The consequence of this? We’ve got two super-villains vying to become president, and no matter who wins a bunch of people are going to let loose a sigh of relief as if we haven’t emerged stuck with a hate-filled robber-baron (to put it lightly) or a lying, conniving power-broker (to put it lightly). Furthermore, all this redthink/bluethink has done is lead both sides to hate various whistleblowers (e.g. Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks), *the people attempting to safeguard what small semblance of “democracy” we have left*.
For this lesson, I owe not just Donald Trump and hist enthusiastic supporters, but Hillary and hers as well. The longer we engage in teamthink and continue to accept grading politicians on a curve, the longer we’ll be elated to elect a lesser of two evils, knowing that the most important issues are almost guaranteed not to be addressed.Report
Yes, we get swept up in teamthink mentality and it does harm. However, it was very important that we vote for the lesser of two evils in this election, as one evil was much “lesser” than the other. We failed to do this. Suffice to say, philosophers seemed to play almost no role in people’s decisions. We just talked to one another, as usual.Report
This is just more partisanship. People need to engage with those who think differently, so they can at least be exposed to thoughts and perspectives outside of their echo chambers, and particularly so the mutual tribal demonization subsides if not largely dissipates. For all you know, your belief that there was a lesser of two evils this election could be hallucinatory – especially since we’re dealing with politics, rather than math or chemistry.Report
What is going to happen to our Universities when the Trumpministration, in collusion with Congress, guts or even eliminates the “elitist” agencies that produce knowledge for elites, like NEH, NEA, NIH, NSF, most of the NOAA, NASA, etc.?Report