The average American will live through several White House administrations. Personally, Trump is the third president I have been alive to see and the first where I can make coherent judgments on their actions. Trump is not the first president I have been around for and certainly will not be the last. We are simply living in a moment of history, the Trump era.
I have already established before that the political climate is dangerously polarized, and a major part of that has to do with the left drifting further to the fringe on several policies. For the right, stances on the issues generally have not gotten more extreme, but a cult of personality has washed over people under Trump. Most people who voted for Trump are not part of the cult and many politically active supporters are not either. There is a fine line between support and blind adherence. Support means someone can be a fair critic when something does not align with their values, blind adherence is when the politician becomes someone’s values. Those who are blindly adhering are unfortunately one of the loudest voices in the greater Conservative Movement.
I support President Trump’s policies, usually speaking. But I also frequently criticize the administration and my own side of the aisle, as it is an important part of a free country to hold those in power accountable, even if we generally agree with them. Recently, I have received criticism for calling the right out for not being a vocal supporter of what people refer to as the “MAGA Movement”, which implies nearly unconditional support of the Trump administration, based on the President’s 2016 campaign slogan, Make America Great Again. A part of the ridicule myself and others who are critical of the “MAGA Movement” is that we are stuck living in the days of Ronald Reagan and that we need to live in the present and advance the Conservative Movement forward by adhering to Trump’s ideas and policies.
There is a laughable irony when it is suggested to leave the mindset of the 1980s, even though (Let’s) Make America Great Again was a term coined by Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election. Reagan did not try to invent or change conservatism, but his legacy will last for many more generations, as he encouraged civility and respect for others. Is my crime wanting people to take the high road and put their values first? I’ll take it.
The “MAGA Movement” characterizes itself as being anti-establishment and unapologetic, regardless of how brutal and polarizing the messaging can come across. Sometimes these ideas, when executed by the Trump administration, can stray from conservatism. Although everyone should put scrutiny on the political establishment, the greater issue comes with the brashness of the movement. People are no longer able to hold civil discussions with those they disagree with because they are overly drowned in slogans and their own stubbornness that cannot find common ground with anyone with any varying form of dissent. What happened to the right being champions of independent thinking? We have now become slaves to firey talking heads and social media. As a result, there is a belief that the “MAGA Movement” will go forward after Trump leaves office, and that it is the way forward for conservatism. That is not the case. Conservatism is the way forward for conservatism. The values are timeless and should not form fit to whoever is in charge of the Executive Branch.
I have had my fair share of nasty encounters with the radical left, which many times can be vile, but I have also had many awful moments with the right when I decide to go against the grain. On the flip side, I have met people on both sides who are able to have civil discussions, and I have learned a lot by listening to what others have to say.
It is a personal choice to be open-minded. The lack of patience from the left and right have created a miserable political climate where nobody can say what they are thinking. We can all take responsibility for this, it doesn’t matter who you are or how crazy you think the other side is. The only way to heal this country is if we learn to talk to each other again, regardless of how radical the others’ ideas may seem.