The only way to evade Trump’s selfishness is through community-based citizenship
We’re in a weird political moment. In the past two weeks, three senior Trump administrative officials have left their posts and Anthony Scaramucci, the newly appointed (and swiftly fired) White House communications director went on a profane rant about his White House colleagues.
These breaches of political decorum have become the new normal in the United States. Although some of Trump’s political appointees (keep a strong eye on Betsey DeVos and Jeff Sessions) are enacting tangibly harmful laws, I am incredulous that the Trump administration’s legislative agenda has been a nonstarter. Certainly, the bits of symbolic legislation and the apparent character of this White House has been harmful to the American public.
Even so, no president in recent memory has started their tenure with so much political capital (both houses of Congress) and accomplished so little in the first six months. It seems the incompetence of the Trump White House has blunted their legislative agenda.
While trusting in the government and relying on political institutions has not proven to be a sound choice for marginalized people, it is concerning that the focus of the media and the political sphere has ended up being Trump’s brouhaha and messiness, rather than people at home and abroad who need help. If political power is influence over discourse, the Trump administration is all powerful, even without any major legislation to their name.
Of course, it is the duty of the media to cover Trump–I do not fault the reporters and news organizations that tirelessly cover the Trump administration. But as media platforms seek ratings and the Trump administration showboats on cable news, what are the major stories? the community issues? who are the people being tossed asunder in favor of this nonsense?
Trump’s politics make for a powerful disconnect from everyday people and problems. If the President is the center of the political universe he has the ability to shine a light on important problems and make changes in those arenas. Instead, he chooses to rally around his main cause–himself–by literally holding thinly veiled re-election rallies, stirring up racial animus, and blatantly lying to the American people.
It seems that because this is a weird political moment, it asks something new of us, something different.
As we “resist” the Trump era, I think the best thing we can do, instead of looking up to Trump, is look to each other. I’m searching for better ways to be a citizen–beyond commentary, beyond critique. While I believe writing is important, a new question I am asking myself is, how and who can I help?
We resist Trump’s selfish, classist politics by working in our communities. Although the national spotlight and the bully-pulpit belongs to and orbits around a nasty, brutish man, we can do the work of telling (and making!) political stories that give us hope and by shining a light on issues that move us. (You can start with some of the work of my amazing BYP colleagues).
Citizenship should encompass a continual effort to improve the world for our fellow human beings. The way we define citizenship does not solely have to be in service of a country, or a social order. Rather, I believe citizenship should be in service to each other and not some vague or blind patriotism or to ensure one’s own status.
Because the President does not exhibit the qualities of a good citizen, we must purposefully uplift other sources of political inspiration in our national discourse.
The present moment can be draining and uninspiring, but as the Trump administration threatens the marginalized, specifically people of color, queer, and trans individuals, this moment calls us to write our own rules and rally around causes greater than ourselves.