Editor’s Note: As we approach the 2016 election, I have to admit I’m a little bit nervous about the outcome. Donald Trump still has a good chance of being elected president, and he’s easily the worst person ever to run for that office in my lifetime, other than, perhaps, George Wallace in 1968. I have no idea what the America people are thinking, but I sure as hell have to wonder whether a good portion of them have lost their minds.
I’m proud to say that this article got one conservative woman so pissed off, she wrote an article of her own to the paper.
(BTW ... for you young people out there [and by young, I mean under 60], the Rascals had a string of big hit songs during the sixties ... you may even have heard of some of them: “Good Lovin,’” “Groovin’” and “People Got to Be Free.”)


It’s a Change Election ... Again

Many pundits insist the reason The Donald’s obvious unfitness for office won’t sink his presidential bid is because this is a “change election.” Of course, any campaign without an incumbent is, to a degree, a change election; however, given Mr. Trump’s crazed rhetoric and overall loathsomeness, change may be the only plausible explanation.

Change is usually viewed affirmatively, but liberals and conservatives often have opposing preferences for its direction. For the Right, it’s always “back to the future” — to the idealized 1950s or perhaps the 19th century. The old Confederacy is today largely red states, where Republicans wax nostalgic over the Confederate flag, the good old days when black people stood for the National Anthem (no matter how badly they were being treated) and the LGBT crowd knew its place — in the closet and never on a wedding cake.

Because the Left prefers the present to the past and the future to both, it values progress, causing conservatives such as Bill O’Reilly to spit out the term “secular progressive” like a profanity. (This also explains the Right’s ambivalence toward the outcome of the Civil War and issues such as civil rights — especially voting rights.)

Dr. Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” said, “Change is never fine. They say it is, but ... it’s not.” So, who am I to argue with a genius? We’re in the midst of plenty of changes I’m not so sanguine about either. Central to change in 2016 is that, philosophically and politically, the middle is evaporating, as the extremes accelerate away from each other.

Ironically, in our computerized, technological society, the Right increasingly rejects science and denigrates its proponents. The evangelical wing of the GOP considers the Big Bang theory, as well as evolutionary biology and its related genetic disciplines, part of some sinister conspiracy by atheistic scientists to rob America of its “old-time religion.”

The nonpartisan Pew poll found that 97% of scientists accept evolution, and 98% believe in manmade climate change. However, the Right prefers that its scientific data come from preachers, politicians and oil company executives, and dismisses much of modern science as “just a theory.” This reveals a profound ignorance of the definition of “theory,” which is an empirically verified hypothesis, not some harebrained notion. Another Pew poll reports that only 6% of scientists are Republican, and a popular Facebook meme quips that, “Scientists can’t explain why that number is so high.”

Although internet files never truly disappear, Trump denied claiming global warming was “a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese,” even as his staffers frantically worked to delete Tweets in which he’d typed precisely that. In our supposed “information age,” Trump also denied saying, “It’s smart not to pay taxes,” immediately after 80 million debate viewers watched him say it.

Trump can constantly “double down” on his dishonesty, because reality is no longer the baseline, and his most blatant lies often get lost in the noise and the clutter. For example, his insistence that NYC’s Central Park 5 are guilty represents a confluence of bigotry and science data denial. DNA exonerated five black youths who’d served long jail terms for a crime they undeniably didn’t commit; however, because he’d originally crusaded for their execution, Trump has doubled down on their guilt in 2016.

(No wonder he’s the darling of white supremacists, who also admire his birtherism. Paradoxically, he also has something in common with the jurors who acquitted O.J. Simpson, in spite of the irrefutable DNA evidence.)

Fact checks from the nonpartisan PolitiFact organization have shown Trump is lying more than five times as often as “Crooked Hillary,” but the Right’s response is to attack the messenger, and sow distrust for any data that paints their hero as a typical politician. Meanwhile, Hillary’s explanations of her statements (revealed by WikiLeaks) about “public and private positions” epitomize the phrase “politics as usual.” What’s changed in 2016 is the public’s wholesale acceptance that “politics” and “lying” are synonymous.

 

Left and Right diverge radically on Islamic terrorism. Trump promotes fear, pretending the number of Americans killed by Muslims during the Obama administration is HUGE, when the actual total isn’t even close to the number killed by drunk drivers over one Labor Day weekend. Meanwhile, the Left often views any unpleasant comments on Islam as racism, despite the fact it’s a religion, not a race, and should be fair game for criticism.

Christianity is also changing and is pushing America in opposite directions. As mainline denominations lose membership, the church’s fundamentalist/Taliban wing, which has more in common with Muslims than it likes to admit, is gaining in power and influence. For example, this group sees Pope Francis’ change to a kinder, gentler form of Catholicism as too accepting of science (climate change, evolution, etc.), too tolerant, and too humane toward the poor and downtrodden.

Even as women’s rights become mainstream, right-wing Christians cling to Trump-style misogyny, as the evangelical bloc continues to embrace him. Bigotry is often faith-based, and, although LGBT rights have been enacted, and gay marriage is now the law of the land, progressive values are being attacked by people of faith who see religious freedom as the right to force their Bronze Age, Old Testament values on the those of us who want to live in the 21st century, rather than the 12th.

But maybe I’m just embittered by the changes being brought on by old age. Anyone who claims to relish the “golden years,” is lying. I wear orthotics, hearing aids and bifocals, and swallow enough pills each day to kill a small horse. If I eat spicy food past 8:00 p.m., the heartburn feels like a coronary, and the last time I slept through the night, The Donald was cheating on Ivana with Marla. And, each morning, when I get out of bed, I need to take an inventory of which parts of me hurt. Conservatives’ attachment to the past is not entirely misguided.

In 1968, the Rascals, a blue-eyed soul band from New Jersey, had a minor hit called “Look Around.” One of the song’s lines, “Bigotry, hate and fear got 10 million votes this year,” referenced racist, third-party presidential candidate George Wallace. It looks like, this year, one of the changes is the growth of that Wallace bloc, which has evolved to vote for The Donald. As the French say, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose.”


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