President Donald J. Trump is the most powerful person alive. He is single-handedly responsible for everything that transpires in America. His power lies not in the uniformed army of which he is Commander in Chief, but rather in the white, straight, cisgender guerilla fighters scattered throughout the nation, whom he can summon to action with a single tweet. No man’s voice holds more influence than President Trump’s. He alone has the power to inspire a man to pick up a gun and shoot up a school or a synagogue.
These assertions are obviously satire to anyone on the political right, yet somehow self-evident facts to many on the left. The pathological need to attribute every negative event to Trump would be comical if it weren’t so destructive to Americans’ ability to relate to one another.
I was apathetic about politics until Trump was elected. But when I witnessed the horrible way people were treating each other, I decided I needed to educate myself on the issues with the goal of mediating discussions and trying to foster mutual understanding and a respect for common ground. I researched both sides of several issues, and found I usually agreed with the conservative positions.
The past two years have proven difficult for politically conservative Jews. For all the “winning” we’ve enjoyed — tax reform, judicial appointments, a booming economy, moving the embassy to Jerusalem — we waste far too much of our time defending conservative policies from the toxicity of Trump’s more absurd comments. Even more frustrating is the need to push back on the irrational narrative that Trump’s rhetoric is the greatest force in the universe, while simultaneously being called conspiratorial for pointing out the pervasiveness and unrestricted influence of left-leaning media, including journalistic institutions, Hollywood, and Big Tech.
I often say that Trump is the most American president ever. He represents the best and the worst of America. He values family but is twice divorced. He supports religious liberty but isn’t devout himself. He proudly supports our military but dodged the draft. He has grand ideas he has no idea how to achieve. He has “the best words” and no idea how to use them. He remembers what makes America great, and reminds us of our darkest failures.
The truth is that Trump is a flawed person, just like the rest of us. His presidency provides us with countless opportunities for nuanced and earnest debate about policy, character, and tactics. Across the aisle, these opportunities are squandered; every discussion circles back to Trump, no matter how ancillary he is to the topic.
In the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre, there have been calls for American Jews to unite against Trump, despite the fact that the shooter hated Trump for not being restrictive enough on immigration. Liberals rush to blame Trump for promoting bigotry despite the fact that at a rally after the shooting, he insisted that “those seeking [the Jews’] destruction, we will seek their destruction.”
Both parties will tell you the stakes are high for this election. But the stakes are always high. The more divided we are, the more important the election, and the more alienating the elected official is to the losing side. Go out and vote. But stop pretending that something you do once a year is the most important thing you do.
You interact with people every day. Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.
By David Kravitz
David Kravitz is a stand-up comedian, retired poet, and working data analyst.