The Normalization of Us vs. Them

So now it’s happened. We elected a racist demagogue to be president of the United States. Let’s not be afraid to call it what it is; it would be irresponsible not to. Coming together to find common ground, even respecting the office of the Presidency, is one thing. It remains a fact that Donald Trump’s words and everything he stands for are grossly unacceptable. We must not grow weary in calling it out, respectfully but emphatically.

From early on in this election, the media chose to express shock at Donald Trump’s words while also allowing him to play by the rules of politics as usual, rendering a strange acceptability to his behavior. It was an inexcusable moral hypocrisy that a TV network would in one moment fire him from a beauty pageant for his lewd comments about and toward women, yet also cover his campaign for President in a normal way.

As I begin to come to terms with this, realizing how complacent I became in not believing this could really happen, I find myself less concerned by the actual policies of a Trump administration, as by the fact that roughly half the country found it acceptable to vote such a proudly immoral man into power. Even those who did not like his rhetoric but voted for him in spite of it, bear the blame for enabling immorality. Even Clinton supporters like myself, who grew complacent, bear some blame.

As a Christian, I watched this campaign season with strange intrigue, thinking that surely, Trump’s candidacy would finally divorce the American church leadership from the Republican party. So obviously against the teachings of Jesus is everything Trump stands for. I was wrong. My own complacency appalls me.

The biggest danger is not policy. The biggest danger of this event is the normalization of the things Trump stands for, and the enthusiasm of the small minority of Americans which his mentality represents.

This was a victory for an US vs. Them mentality. A subtle normalization will begin. It will seek to normalize racism and misogyny, to normalize hurtful generalizations about races and religions, to normalize hatred of immigrants and refugees, to normalize disrespect and objectification of women, to normalize disproportionate police violence against African Americans in the name of “law and order.” In short, a normalization of fear of the other.

In the coming years—four, eight, maybe more—Trump and the Republican government he will quickly wrap around his finger will tell us that he is a normal president. The media will fall in line. We cannot let complacency allow us to be told that these things are normal.

Remember too, that Us vs. Them goes both ways. If the opposition to Trumpism takes on a spirit of anger rather than remembering that our opposition comes from a spirit of love, then we will run the danger of becoming just like the thing we stand against.

Significantly, Clinton won the popular vote. This is something to be hopeful about. Most Americans are NOT okay with Trump’s world outlook. The new government will be a minority government, even though it will have near total control. The check that must be left in place against this government must be the non-complacency of the American majority, which tirelessly says “No: this is not right, this is not normal.” This bears all the marks of fascism in its infancy. Yet the oppressive regimes of history have not risen out of evil plans so much as from a complacency of its citizens.


About Gregory Phillips

With my novels, I aim to shine light on universal truth through the hero’s journey. My characters are strong and relatable, regardless of one’s background or belief system. Aspirational stories, creatively set in compelling cities or amidst dramatic historical events. My first novel, “Love of Finished Years” won the Chaucer Award in historical fiction, as well as the Grand Prize for best book of the year across all genres in the Chanticleer Reviews international writing competition. It is coming out in Jannuary 2018 through Sillan Pace Brown.

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