In a recent interview, Ian Mackaye, formerly of the bands Minor Threat and Fugazi said, “I was trying to think of an illustration of how I’ve thought about this election. I had this vision of being on a boat that you have no control over – you’re just a passenger. There’s this vicious fistfight up in the helm between two people that are trying to get ahold of the steering wheel. They have very different ideas about which way they want to steer, although ultimately I think both of these captains have self-serving strategies. You wake up to discover that the one who’s steering in the direction you really didn’t want to go in ended up winning the fight. But maybe something to think about is that regardless of the steering, there is a greater current at play. These people steer the boat wherever they want to go, but the current moves in a direction that is beyond their power. It might take us longer to get there, but I feel like that is a current of progression.”
Last week I put out a call for people who read this blog and supported or at least were enthusiastic about Donald Trump’s presidency to send me emails. I heard from 34 people. That’s not a massive number by polling standards, but it’s considerably more than I usually receive on just one topic in a single week.
We need to stop shaming people for supporting Trump. This is especially true for Buddhists. American Buddhism tends to be dominated by left-wing types, the same way American Christianity tends to be dominated by right-wingers. There is a strong tendency in both groups to equate their political biases with some kind of Higher Truth. Both groups are equally blind to the idea that this might not be the case.
I used to think that right wing Christian nut-cases like Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell were being insincere when they claimed Jesus supported their views. But I’ve watched the exact same thing play out among very sincere left wing Buddhists who truly believe that the tenets of Buddhism and the platform of whatever party they support are identical.
Buddha didn’t want you to vote for Hillary (or Jill or even Bernie) any more than Jesus wanted you to vote for The Donald.
A few of my correspondents were adamant that I preserve their anonymity. They feared being “outted” as Trump supporters in front of their Buddhist friends. At the risk of quoting our president elect, to me that is sad. I’m sad that those who have political views outside of the mainstream in American Buddhism feel they cannot speak freely and I’m sad I have played a role in that.
So here are what I think are the most interesting comments I received. I present these without any personal endorsement or condemnation. This is just what some of my readers think. I promise NO MORE POLITICAL BLOGS for a good long while. I do not want this to turn into a political forum.
I am a Buddhist/Muslim (born Muslim)
I really dislike Donald Trump. I dislike him because he is disrespectful to his fellow men. He has no honour. And this is why i think he’s right.
I have grown up in Pakistan. I know what religious nutters are like. And the west has failed to deal with these guys for over a few decades now. Trust me when I say this, the west is solely responsible for these religious fanatics. These guys got guns in the cold war to fight Russia. History is repeating itself in Syria with these “Syrian Rebels”.
Trump for some odd reason has a grasp over this. He somehow intuitively understands what’s going on in the Muslim world.
He says he doesn’t want Muslims to enter America, he isn’t doing that because he hates Muslims. He is doing that because he wants to keep you safe.
All this talk of political correctness in America. It’s very kind. I am very humbled when people like yourself defend our honour. However there is something bigger at stake. Everybody’s safety is at stake. These radical assholes are a real fucktards.
Trump understands radical asshole fucktards. He gets it. It bemuses me how he gets it, but he gets it. I get it because I grew up in Pakistan. If I hadn’t grown up in Pakistan and grew up in western comfort, I probably would have thought trump was bad.
Trump is an asshole? Yes he is. But he is a much needed asshole right now. Radical asshole fucktards are scared of assholes.
Trump has said and done some ethically outrageous things. I wish people who were upset that he wants to ban Muslims were equally upset about the current government’s eagerness to bomb Muslim countries. I wish people who are upset by his racism were upset about the mass incarceration of black people under America’s racist drug laws. I wish the people who were upset about his use of the word “pussy” 10 years ago were equally upset about the Clintons’ involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. I wish the people who are concerned about fake news recognized CNN and FOX for the lying liars they are.
For Americans, a Trump Presidency has the potential to be a good one. He has stated that he will push through a large infrastructure rebuilding bill through Congress. Clinton probably would not have been able to get this done. He will push back on countries that are trading unfairly with the U.S. He will lower the burdens on small businesses. As a person who works with small business owners, I don’t think the majority of people understand what they go through on a day-to-day basis trying to run their business and cut through red-tape.
Where should we be concerned about a Trump Presidency? He has made inflammatory statements. I would bet that those were for campaign purposes only. In fact today, one of his top advisors said that they likely wouldn’t seek prosecution of Hillary Clinton. That is sure to anger many of his supporters. I expect him to similarly go back on several of his more controversial campaign promises. As Buddhists we should be concerned about the entire universe, not just America. So some of his trade and treaty acts will probably hurt non-Americans. And there is always the chance that he is as crazy as the left wing media made him out to be and he will get us all blown up and we will all be reincarnated as cockroaches in a post-nuclear apocalyptic world.
Trump is clearly adored sizable following of die hard supporters. Outside of supporters though, I would venture a guess that most Americans run the gauntlet between greeting him with skepticism, sheer malice , and everything found in between. The result is that the American populous will probably pay attention to everything he does. By contrast, President Obama was insanely charismatic, charming, and funny. For disclosure’s sake, I’m a former Obama campaign donor; I am certainly no stranger to his remarkable likability. Back to my point though… could Trump enjoy the lack of public scrutiny that enabled President Obama’s military drone operation and all the extrajudicial killings that came along with it? Could he pass something like the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which wrote indefinite detention without charge or trial into law (contrary to habeas corpus)? Could he violate the fourth amendment through NSA mass surveillance conducted devoid of warrants? I feel Trump would face great public outcry if he attempted any of these endeavors. Meanwhile, President Obama was so gosh darned likable that most of us just hit cruise control and let it all happen while barely noticing it. President Obama is one of my favorite orators of all time and he has the sort of comedic timing that allowed him be a regular on wildly popular talk shows during his two terms in office. President Obama utilized his charm to gain the good will of the populous and then he cautiously and slowly spent that good will strategically throughout his presidency with expert precision.
So, Donald – not even really sure why, but I responded well to his brashness – his almost ZEN shoot from the hip way of behaving – turrets almost – just say what he feels needs saying at any given moment … Zen, the student asks a question and the master hits him on the head with a paper fan and enlightenment ensues type of stuff.
I also read “Make America Great Again” and am currently reading “Art of the Deal” and though I cannot get over some of the bull-headed thoughts – and am so curious and terrified of the unification of the ALT RIGHT stuff that is also coming out of this. I like the idea of letting an outsider, a business man, and ultimately a self-described confident “Winner” take a crack at things for a moment.
I voted for Trump. I am Buddhist as well. Neither meets my picture of an ideal president. Trump presented a coarse and offensive manner. However at the base of his stand was a message of the rule of law. Hillary represents the same old political machine. Her tactics as manifested through the DNC to derail Sanders is a clear example that the election was about her obsession to power at any cost. As for how a Buddhist could vote for Trump. I can only speak for myself. I find neither particularly conscious human beings. Given the realty of how the system works he will do less real damage the she would have. Hillary is the real elitist 1% club champion not Trump. Her personal for profit dealings with the Saudi’s and their abusive standards with women is criminally hypocritical. In her own way she is coarse and sleazy as Trump has ever been. In short I’ll take a blowhard over the likes of the Clinton machine.
I believed that the current policy in Syria and towards Iran and Russia is quite dangerous and leading up to a potential major confrontation with Russia. The USA has been funding rebels who decapitate Syrian children while going about their effort to overturn Assad. Russia is trying to destroy Isis’s influence in Syria, but we are essentially funding Isis.
Free trade is causing more pain worldwide and environmental discomfort than it is solving. Re-negotiating trade may help world economy and lessen suffering worldwide. Bernie Sanders understood this. Trump understood this. The Clintons did not understand this.
Furthermore, the carbon credit trading scam has absorbed most of the money and involvement in the environmental movement. We’re losing forests and polluting oceans and destroying climate in more insipid ways that impact just as much if not more than carbon emissions. While emissions are a monumental problem, I feel the movement as a whole has lost track of the dangers of pollution and environmental destruction, fracking, etc more generally. Trump promised to clean up American water. I don’t trust him on the environment more generally, but do believe that pulling out of free trade will help bring factories back to the USA where they are more tightly regulated.
I’ve been working hard to actively condemn anti-Muslim discrimination. I know many Muslims as a graduate student at the university where I teach and am horrified at the racists who are coming out of the woodwork believing that they are “normalized” now. It is my opinion that most Trump voters are not racist, but that the media has portrayed them as such and thus that the racists feel that this means they are safe now. I’ve made a concerted effort to state online and in person where I teach etc. that racism is NOT normal and hate crimes are illegal.*
I’m not a Trump supporter and didn’t vote for him, but one theoretical (Buddhist) reason I can think of for supporting him is that he is forcing us to confront our conditioning (about the media, foreign and economic policy, and different identity groups in the U.S) and creating an opening to talk to people who would’ve continued to be ignored had Hillary won.
In the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections I spent more than 5 months on the ground mobilizing for the conservative cause in supporting Republican candidates. In 2016, I was briefly in the “Never Trump” crowd during the Primaries but soon became an ardent Trump supporter in the general election particularly as it became clear to me that his election was likely to express the voice of the “forgotten” and challenge the Establishment elite (Republicans included,) that have led us to this sorry pass. I was elbow to elbow with the these folk in Ohio, Colorado and Nevada for those 5 months.
I was anti-Hillary for fear of WW3/nuclear agitation related to Syria, would have voted for any realistic alternative for some hope of getting off that path. I am now waiting with discerning senses and actually informing myself on Trump intending to give him a fair chance–he deserves one day in office before judgement–as I didn’t fully believe that Hillary would be defeated so I didn’t prior. She’s a deeply nested part of a corrupt machine from what I can tell, and the rabbit hole seems to keep getting deeper as the weeks go on. The emails and esp. the Huma Abedin revelation were corroborating circumstantial evidence of my worst fears, that made me sick thinking about what would happen if she won… I see her as a player in a system rotten to the core.
I am deeply suspicious of the Democratic party. I conducted extensive research into the party structure and was appalled to discover that one of the driving forces behind their doctrine and policy direction is George Soros, a self confessed Nazi collaborator who is quoted as saying that “those were the best days of my life.” Expressing no regret or compassion for the people he delivered to the Nazis for extermination, he even boasts about it. Soros has meddled in the affairs of the Ukraine and the Baltic states through his Open Society foundation, funding mercenaries engaged in ethnic cleansing, ultimately resulting the over throw of their democratically elected president. He has used his money to undermine the security of the United States through open boarders and the fostering of welfare dependency. He funds radical groups that are destabilizing our country right now, through rioting and the assassination of our police officers. That does not sound like compassion to me. I can source each the points I made, but I respect your capability to do your own research.
I went to Iraq in 2005. My job was to investigate and collect evidence of bombings against coalition forces. I saw first-hand the carnage of that war and the misery it created. Friends of mine were brutally maimed and killed. Dismembered children were the hardest to deal with. My experience there resulted in my conversion to Buddhism and the taking of the Bodhisattva vows. That war wrecked my mind, my marriage, and nearly my career. So I have no love for the Republicans that started that war. I will never forget “Mission Accomplished.” But I also got to see what uncontrolled anarchy looks like, with a Muslim cultural bent. Yes, I know individual Muslims that I am happy to sit down to tea with and have long conversations about life, philosophy and politics. They want what anyone wants, a home, a livelihood, and security. But that is because they have agreed that rules of civilized society (essentially be kind and respectful to others and mind your own business) are beneficial. But they came here legally and worked hard to attain their citizenship, they therefor understand its worth. What I see now with the violence, race baiting, hatred and vitriol on the left only serve to validate my choice. It was not an easy choice. I have friends that are gay, Muslim, Hispanic, black, white, male and female, and we can have a civil dialogue about our differences of opinion without getting personal which results in the strengthening of our respect for each other.
* I think that line my correspondent said, “It is my opinion that most Trump voters are not racist, but that the media has portrayed them as such and thus that the racists feel that this means they are safe now” is really important. If non-racists who opposed Trump think that all Trump supporters are racists, you can only assume that racists who voted for him think so as well. This is why some of them have gotten so bold lately. I think it is critical that Trump’s supporters as well as Trump himself must make it clear that they don’t go along with that shit. So far, I haven’t seen a whole lot of that happening. Trump did a little bit of this, but he’s got to do more. And, just as importantly, so do those who voted for him. Maybe some of you who wrote to me can work on this issue.
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