I typically have claimed, "Everything is important, or nothing is important." For example, family separations at the Mexican border are important, and so are opioid addiction deaths, and so is the way the economy impacts my 401K. As this thought process goes, they're different and have different attributes, but in the grand scheme of the universe, a terrified Guatemalan kid is no more important than my salary. It's OK to protest family separations, but it's OK for me to worry about my retirement at the same time.
But, President Trump's behavior since his inauguration in 2017 has prompted me to reflect on this "importance of everything". It's not that I think the basis of American politics have changed all that much in the last couple years. Politicians beyond the local level spend more time raising money than legislating. At the state and federal levels, we live under an oligarchy, and it has been like that most of my life. Jimmy Carter is the only president since John Kennedy who pushed against elitism even a little, and he was run out of town because he didn't nuke Iran.
Prior to the Trump presidency, the oligarchic nature of the system was a rarely mentioned "elephant in the room". We weren't just avoiding discussions about racism and homelessness in America. We allowed politicians to get rich along with their donors so the rest of us didn't have to expose our own biases and hatreds. The one-percenters got away with elitism because most of the rest of us weren't really doing all that badly. Wars were overseas, the federal deficit doesn't actually seem to impact anything, Grandpa is still collecting his Social Security payments and a warming climate doesn't seem so bad to an upstate New Yorker.
But, oh that Donald J. Trump! He has told us, directly and indirectly, it's OK to be haters in broad daylight. He doesn't care about the terrified Central American kids, he doesn't care about incarcerated African Americans, he doesn't care about homeless veterans, he doesn't care about the human impact on our climate and he doesn't care if he starts a nuclear war. All he cares about is his own, personal well being. In order to get votes, he also convinced enough people in enough districts that's it's OK for them to care only about themselves. When DJT gives a pass to white nationalists, he gives a pass to everyone. We think we're freer than ever, but we've simply been freed by Mr. Trump to admit we can hate everyone beyond our own driveways.
So, what's that got to do with the "importance of everything"? The most important thing, now, is to stop believing it's OK to be biased and hateful. We are individuals and we possess primal survival instincts, but we are also social creatures living in an increasingly globalized society. My well being depends on your well being. The path to reducing our biases and hatreds is to stop enabling our elitist politicians. It's not specifically about Trump. We should have put the screws to the Obamas, Clintons and Bushes. But, Trump is the clown who spilled the beans and didn't sweep them under the rug, so now, we need to put the screws to Trump. It's not OK for him to support the elitism of the system by convincing the rest of us we should hate some Muslim trying to immigrate. I don't need to welcome random homeless people into my living room, and it's OK to support national defense, but I need to tell politicians it's not OK to enrich themselves by funneling billions of unnecessary dollars to the military-industrial complex as people still suffer in America and around the world.