Principles over parties

Perhaps it came as a surprise to many, especially my fellow Bears, when I openly opposed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. How could I, a person of color, go against someone who seemed like the obvious choice? I mean, obviously she’s qualified considering her years in politics –– she’s served as a senator, First Lady of the United States and Secretary of State. But I saw past her “progressive” rhetoric which seemed to be limited to the American people. I considered her support for the Iraq War, her participation in the instability of Libya and her work with a drone policy that’s killed innocent civilians as well as enemy combatants as contradictory to that rhetoric. All these acts are responsible for the rising extremism abroad and the damaged credibility of the U.S as a moral leader in the eyes of the international community.

However, contrary to the climate of dichotomous politics that we seem to live in today, my opposition to Hillary Clinton was in no sense a support for Donald Trump. In the eyes of person such as myself whose political views lean towards libertarianism, Donald Trump is problematic for being a walking paradox. He ran on a platform to bring back jobs to Americans and slandered immigrants, yet his company hired immigrants to build his hotels. He promised to “drain the swamp” by going after “crooked” politicians, yet he fills his cabinet with billionaires and establishment politicians. Also, the fact that he proposed surveillance on mosques illustrates his desire to increase government supervision in an already large surveillance state that threatens the civil liberties such as privacy and religious freedom that libertarians hold in high regard. His protectionist policies go against the very idea of free trade and free market economics that libertarians value as essential facets of individual freedom. (Although many Trump supporters don’t realize that these companies will replace them once robots can automate their jobs for a fraction of the cost, but that’s none of my business.) The list goes on.

However, with Donald Trump as the official President of the United States, the only relevant question is, “What happens next?” To be frank, I’m not quite sure. Donald Trump’s tendency to flip-flop on his promises like his position on the Affordable Care Act has left me in a state of confusion. Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t mean much to me but his unpredictable actions and potential for volatility scare me the most. However, that’s not to say that I completely disagree with Trump. I admire the fact that a Republican deviated from his party to admit that it is not the job of the United States to be a world police — countries ought to take part in maintaining their own sovereignty instead of always relying on the U.S. He’s not antagonistic to Russia, primarily because he believes that we should work together to defeat ISIS. But again, it’s all mere rhetoric. Donald Trump has the opportunity to determine whether or not he’s all talk like those incompetent politicians, as he calls them.

Although the 2016 election gave the American people perhaps the crappiest candidates in U.S. history, including third-party candidates, I understand why many voters felt the need to pick sides. However, this mentality of picking teams is precisely why I think our current political climate is so toxic. It’s almost like a scene from Star Wars where Anakin says to Obi-Wan, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy!” Nowadays, we’re simply looking to validate our views through echo chambers and shun anyone else that disagrees with us — political discourse has become obsessed with winning more than understanding and those in the middle are seen as sympathizers with the enemy. To believe that about half of America is racist completely ignores the fact that this is the same country that elected its first Black president twice. To believe that a large number of Americans are sexists doesn’t explain why such a significant number of women voted for Trump as opposed to Clinton. Politics isn’t black and white, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start removing the toxicity of the current political climate. Our principles should not be trumped by party politics, and we ought to hold our own party representatives accountable when they deviate from our principles, instead of blindly following them. Should Donald Trump surprise me with a presidency that supports an inclusive society and a free market, I will be the first to admit that I was wrong about him.

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