Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sanders, Trump, and the Cult of Victimization

The year is 2016.

When people act like cavemen, in ‘unevolved’ sorts of ways, it is inevitable that someone is always there to ask “What year are we living in?” meaning, there is something allegedly shocking to a person of reason about how slowly large groups of people evolve socially over time. As Donald Trump grows closer to securing the Republican nomination, he continues to indirectly but not so subtly pander to the racist, misogynistic (largely) uneducated white voters who are not above rising to violence who happen to think Trump’s presidency will ‘change things.’ The question is, what is it Trump supporters hope to change? It’s not like a whole lot of racist, misogynistic (largely) uneducated white voters haven’t benefited from the status quo for, well, pretty much all of American history.

And that’s just it; for Trump supporters, what they are hoping to change is the direction in
which the country is changing. Trump’s overwhelmingly white supporters see the writing on the wall; for example, they’re currently under attack spiritually as the number of diverse religions grow within U.S. borders. Heaven forbid a Christian from Bala’ama be forced to share the street with a non-Christian! (For the sake of brevity, now replace ‘Christian’ and ‘non-Christian’ with ‘white folk’ and ‘people of color,’ ‘men’ and ‘women,’ ‘the uncultured and illiterate’ and ‘a gay from New York,’ etc.) Of course, least we forget that the Mexicans are stealing jobs Americans don’t want to do. Somehow, Trump supporters feel victimized by the growing number of people who don’t think conservative white men should be allowed to keep victimizing people the way they have for over 200 years now. Oddly, if there is anything Trump supporters should be fighting, it’s the narrative of victimization that seems to be the driving force in the lives of U.S. citizens these days.

The middling success of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is indicative of this narrative. People of Color, gays, Millennials, left-of-left leaning liberals and people who don’t want another Clinton in the White House are flocking to a socialist who sounds like a Sweathog from Welcome Back Kotter. While blacks more than any other group of minorities have suffered from institutionalized racism (Native American aren’t around much to persecute anymore), it is hard to see why they think a frazzle-haired Jewish president would suddenly make them equal in the eyes of conservative white men, seeing how Obama’s presidency hasn’t helped much. Really, though, blacks and gays are the only groups of people who have truly been victimized throughout U.S. history, though it is arguable the LGBT community has had a great deal more success in being accepted. Meanwhile, Millennials and left-of-left leaning liberals feel victimized by being born into a culture that is largely a meritocracy. People who don’t want another Clinton in the White House feel victimized by the lack of Whole Foods supermarkets in their neighborhood (that are owned by a Republican by-the-way).

What both sides have in common is that they feel victimized by the status quo. The difference is slight at best; Trump supporters want to stop the status quo from ceasing to be the status quo while Sanders supporters think the status quo can’t change fast enough. In the meantime, both groups of supporters (read: fanatics) are being forced to live in a world that is utterly horrible, one that doesn’t kowtow to their respective beliefs. This is, however, merely indicative of a larger problem insofar as it has become every American’s prerogative to perceive any transgression – no matter how slight – into being victimized. Politically, both sets of supporters want to sell everyone on the idea that their candidate is for freedom when in fact both candidates are diametrically opposed to freedom – one is out to curtail freedoms for certain people while the other is out to curtail the freedom of certain ideas. The U.S.’s currently culture of victimization is born directly out of having too much freedom: The fact is that in almost no other country do the citizens have so much freedom to protest that their freedoms are under attack. Keep in mind that this is despite the media in the U.S. almost entirely being under the control of a mere five corporations.

Moderate independent, liberal and conservative voters alike have long mocked the ‘special snowflake’ narrative of left-of-left liberals and Millennials when it appears all groups suffer from this delusion that they are special and deserve special or preferential treatment. Chances are, unless you’re an overweight, militant, gay Native African-American who wears glasses, you haven’t been victimized by anything other than your own ego. While both Trump and Sanders supporters would like to get rid of a culture that is a meritocracy (in theory, anyway) it is perhaps best if we actually employed a culture of meritocracy. Special or preferential treatment should be earned regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation or nepotism. I say this because employing a true meritocracy is the best way to ensure everyone is treated fairly and no one can be victimized except by themselves.

Trump and Sanders supporters will never admit they have anything in common which only further demonstrates their inability to recognize their own humanness and the flaws that accompany it. Both groups think their candidate can fix what ails the country, but it is highly unlikely that more poison is the cure. Common ground is the cure, not a sharp divide.

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