Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, calls for “anything but Trump” have been making their way through social media. One post in particular calls for “anything but Trump 2016,” and then lists some suggestions. The obvious choices of Sanders and Clinton are there, “Mickey Mouse,” and “a can of creamed corn.” Making fun of Donald Trump, from his choice of words to his hairstyle, has become a quite common past time, one that I do not deny participating in myself.
When faced with a world of suffering, it is often easy and somewhat comforting to have someone or something to blame. Trump, with his vitriolic comments, has sought to place blame on various groups, in particular, Mexicans, Muslims, and women who dare to oppose his vicious rhetoric. Although he now says it was just a suggestion, Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, and has expressed openness to establishing a database for all Muslims living in the country. Besides being frightening and unjust, such claims wrongly suggest that Islam is to blame for violence in our country and our world, and that the repression of Islam is the way to solve the problem, to “make America great again.”
This is the easy way out. Get rid of Islam: live in peace. Some feel the same about women. Put women back in the home where they belong: the problem of troubled youth addicted to drugs, or attracted to crime, will cease. Many of us do not want to face the truth – that violence, crime, and oppression are not caused by one religion, or one particular group; that such suffering has systemic institutional causes beyond our immediate control and apprehension; that we as individuals also bear partial responsibility for these issues; that Christianity, “the supposed liberator of the oppressed Muslim,” has been and continues to be used to condone violence and oppression, in particular against women and children.
I am certainly not saying that we should not vigorously oppose Donald Trump’s rhetoric nor that we should halt all of our efforts to stop a Trump presidency from becoming a reality. But we cannot place all of the blame on Trump. Racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia are all much bigger issues than Donald Trump. Defeating Trump in 2016 will not mean that we can all sit back and relax. Trump did not arise out of nowhere – thousands and thousands of other Americans share the views of Trump on women and immigrants, and they did so long before Trump was leading in the primaries. We need to do a lot more than just ensure Trump does not make it to the White House.
Power does not just rest in the hands of the President, but also in Congress, the Supreme Court, the media, educational institutions, political action committees, and yes, in all of us. Regardless of who is elected this November, the struggle must not end. A president can give us hope and help bring about progressive institutional change, but such change can only work in tandem with individual change. I predict that Trump will not win in November, and I am excitedly supporting another candidate. But, we all need to examine our hearts for prejudice, fear, and anger, and experience some sort of conversion. If America is to become truly “great,” we will need show love and compassion for, and work together with, those whom we think of as “enemies.” Yes, the progressive, liberal #NeverTrump activist must sit at the table with the staunchest Trump supporter.