This narrative has fueled conversations between Americans of every stripe from houses of faith to factory floors, hospital waiting rooms to Walmart parking lots, police stations to college dorms, and just about any place two people can come together. And it’s not entirely wrong.
There is no escaping how much the Trump era, regardless of political affinity, has been defined by nastiness: slurring one’s “enemies,” mocking those who don’t agree with you, and repeating the most damning stories to make a point. Where has all this invective left us? It certainly hasn’t moved the needle in three years: not a lot of people have swapped pussy hats for MAGA caps or vice versa. Passionate disagreement may be key to our democracy, but so far the constant snarling and sneering hasn’t changed as many hearts as it has weighed down.
When I think about how to get through the upcoming election, which will define 2020, I want to aim higher than I sometimes have these last few years. This doesn’t mean pretending all things seem equal to me or letting anyone off the hook when they perpetuate harm. It means aspiring to true thoughtfulness in what I claim, in how I live, and how I engage with others.
What would that look like? I came up with 6 New Year’s Resolutions for the Trump Era that I think all of us — left, right, center, and even those who shoot past the spectrum — could practice.
Don’t be a mouthpiece.
After the 2016, I found myself easily enraged by one headline after another. I often re-posted links to these stories, accompanied by an indignant blast of my own opinion. Sometimes the stories were accurate and my criticism fair, but some were only partly true or not true at all — as I discovered when people cried foul. It was embarrassing to discover that I had propagated misinformation (behavior I shamed others for) and I realized I was trusting whatever “my” people wrote, instead of critically examining things for myself. In my fervor, I had become less a thinker and more a mouthpiece for one side in the social media civil war, helping no one.