Struggling to remain optimistic in today’s landscape

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I’d like to be a more glass half-full type of person, generally, but my cynical and pessimistic sides are going haywire in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration. There’s a constant war going on in my head. The way people came together this past weekend in a show of solidarity for equality and human rights leaves me feeling hopeful and optimistic; the strength and resiliency on display was wonderful.

But then I think about Trump for a second and get pessimistic about what he plans to do during his administration. Then I get annoyed because I think about how the people who voted for Trump actually think he cares. And then I let my pessimism and cynicism soar. So, dear reader, if you’ll please indulge me.

The people who voted for Trump voted with their gut; to paraphrase Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” line, Trump “felt the truth at them.” The things he said felt true; he was an outsider, not a bum, like the other politicians. I feel like these same people would be the types to say, in past elections, “vote the bums out!” That nifty phrase always comes up during election season (both national and local) and it always makes me wonder – who keeps voting the bums into office every election?

People keep voting for lousy candidates because they keep buying into the lousy candidates’ loads of bovine excrement. If people keep eating it up, politicians will always keep peddling more excrement. Trump is a skilled peddler. Despite his status as a non-politician, Trump did two things many politicians do: made huge promises he knows he won’t be able to keep and lied prolifically. I thought people were savvier than this. Who thinks Trump actually cares about the white working class and inner cities? Or, anything else for that matter, other than his brand.

The other day, I read a New York Times story about how, on Jan. 2 of this new year, House Republicans clandestinely voted to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics, and my pessimism increased. I’ll bet a number of those Congresspeople who voted against having an investigative body do its job have probably been in office for years, voted into office by the same kinds of people who like “voting the bums out.”

Collectively, we don’t always like holding ourselves accountable for the situations we, as a country, find ourselves in. People never seem to want to point the finger at themselves when it comes to something going wrong or not working.

That story about the ethics office vote would probably only get a few minutes on cable news because they have to think about their audience. Too much “hard news” and people complain about the news being too negative. Too much “soft news” and the complaints swing the opposite way; too much fluff. The news will keep sucking, in terms of the content, if people keep tuning in to watch the crappy content (pardon the technical language). They’re just giving the people what they want according to the numbers and ratings. Somebody’s watching all of this.

Of course, I know not everyone falls into this category of condemning something while condoning their own participation in that thing. But I suspect there’s some overlap. Pardon my digression.

When President Trump inevitably disappoints his supporters and reneges on the many promises he made them (the wall, the jobs, the swamp-draining), will those people who voted for him offer up a mea culpa? Or, will it be more, “I can’t believe he lied to us! The system is so corrupt! How’d he get in there!” It makes perfect sense to blame the offending actor (the dishonest politician); but shouldn’t we also blame ourselves for being duped in the first place?

Apologies for the venting. I’ll work better to let my optimistic side win out as much as possible. At least, that way, I can spare you from my discursive rambling. I think it’s healthier to be an optimist anyway.