One Year Later, This Still Holds True

On November 7th, 2017, the country still stands. No, Donald Trump cannot be expected to solve the problems that are best to be left to the individual.

Even though the prospect of then-Candidate Donald Trump winning the presidency seemed far-fetched one year ago, there was no doubt that he was going to have an impact on the political landscape of America. His movement embodied something out of the ordinary, something that represented a feeling of dismay and disillusionment against the status quo. After years of feeling estranged by people on the Left, such as President Obama, and being called “racist bigots,” his largely working-class electorate spoke out in a vengeful manner against the corrupted political culture of the nation. As identity politics became a fighting tool for the Left, those on the Right began to adopt a weapon of identity politics of their own. Candidate President Trump targeted those who had been “cheated” by the Washington elites. He claimed to be the spokesman for blue-collar workers who had been “forgotten” by the rest of America.

This feeling of resentment does have some merit. Imagine being a white, low-income, blue-collar worker who can barely get food on the table while being subjected to lectures on how privileged it is to simply be white. These workers do not have time to worry about issues such as cultural appropriation or the concept of institutional racism; all they can afford to care about is survival. Unfortunately, the Democratic party (with exception of Jim Webb and the like) has done nothing but turn these white workers away from supporting their candidates. With only promises of more tax burdens looming from the party, it did not take a political genius to realize that a low-income white worker would not want to vote Democrat this election. President Trump, on the other hand, did everything he could to appeal to these people, promising to restrict immigration to protect the American workforce while also vowing to increase tariffs to protect domestic industries.

Aside from appealing to a group of people that felt forgotten, President Trump’s rhetoric was what really made him stand out. He was breaking all the traditional rules of politics; he was vociferous in his attacks against anyone who stood in his way. He was a schoolyard bully who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He conflated the act of being politically correct to acting vulgar, and his supporters absolutely loved it.

This is the danger of Donald Trump to American politics: he has blurred the line between supporting political incorrectness and free speech with being provocative for its own sake. Not only has he empowered Alt-Right trolls whose only goal is to anger the Left, but he has created a polarized political culture in which the Left will oppose him at all costs.

We have Left an era of rational debate. We live in a post-truth era, one in which the only important thing is to oppose and demonize the other side. Although it is easier (and more enjoyable) to attribute malice to the opposing side, it is very dangerous to believe that half of the country is out to get you. This further removes the need for us to have civil discourse; we can see this in the actions of groups like the Antifa and white nationalists’ protests against an “evil system” that is out to harm them.  

The truth is, there is no such thing as a racist, evil system out to get minorities or conduct “white genocide” conspiracies fabricated by the Left. There is only one thing that matters in the United States, and that is personal responsibility. You can do whatever you want to lift yourself up in America; by the same logic, you bear the responsibility of whatever downfalls you may face. That is the beauty of this country.

Politicians like President Trump, Senator Sanders, and even Hillary Clinton try to claim the opposite. They say that the so-called elites are at the root of the problems facing ordinary Americans. They claim that men and women do not have their lives in your own hands; instead, the government will solve their problems and protect them from the institutional problems that are holding them back.

In reality, that is preposterous fear-mongering to win over some votes. The truth is that the federal government cannot solve their problems. It is impossible to fractionate the issues of each individual to be dealt with by bureaucrats. That is why we must leave it up to American individuals to help themselves out, to seek help from those around them, and to look inside for self-improvement.

Josh Park is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California studying political science and journalism

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