Something I find quite disturbing in America (and other countries) is the childishness of politics. People are actually excited that America is in trouble right now, just so they can take their jabs at Trump. Everything is so polarized between hard-Left and hard-Right, it’s just a competition between demagogues rather than any actual concerted effort to solve our various woes. What kind of sick-minded fiend is happy to see destruction? A sociopath.
For Muslims who believe in God and His Divine decree (qadr), we shouldn’t look at the world so superficially. The childish playground politics–taking crises as an opportunity to take jabs at political leaders–are more telling of your own mentality than of the politicians. The reality is, every issue is multifaceted and very complex. Blaming one single person is more of a cop-out than any sort of accurate representation of reality. And as we should know (but don’t), the more we take jabs at the “other” and point fingers, the more extreme the “other” will react. The only result is further polarizing politics, creating more problems, and solving absolutely nothing.
Yeah, Trump isn’t perfect. Neither is Hillary, Obama, Bush, Kerry, Bill Clinton, or any other president in US history for that matter. Learn to stop being so emotional and start being objective. Step out of the “box,” turn off the television and media, and start thinking like an academic. We’re missing the forest for the trees.
Because common folk are so polarized, you probably think I like Trump, or that I even voted for Trump. Both are false (if you even suspected this, then this article is probably describing you perfectly). But for someone whom Facebook labeled as a moderate (when I used to use it), the obvious editorializing is obvious: “The presidents I like (IE Democrats) will take zero responsibility for any shortcomings and 100% responsibility for any successes. The presidents I don’t like (IE Republicans) will take zero responsibility for anything positive and 100% responsibility for any failures. I’ll magically find ways to attribute all successes to Democrats, while completely ignoring the fact that events in history are multifaceted (there’s very rarely any single reason anything happens).”
If this isn’t obvious editorializing and manipulation, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s blatant all over the media on every side. You can hardly read anything (from the Right or the Left) that isn’t full of this petty playground politicking rhetoric. “Unbiased” and “objective” are almost extinct. This is why I don’t even have a party at the moment–it’s impossible to choose with a conscience (so independent, I guess?).
No, we don’t know if Hillary would’ve done differently. We certainly cannot assert that she would magically be 100% perfect and better than Trump in every single domain down to the last grain of sand, from healthcare to foreign policy. Yeah, doubt it. She may have very well done far worse. Nobody knows, only Allah ﷻ knows all of the possibilities, and this reality we’re in is the one He chose for us. Instead, let’s focus on the cards we’ve been dealt and how to move forward with a unifying vision, rather than exacerbating the problem by feeding the rhetoric.
Times like these are when Socrates and Plato shake their heads, and hark back to their writings on demagoguery breaking down Democracies. The problem is, Democrats think they’re the ones not being manipulated (they are) just as much as the Right. The truth and reality we must accept is that both sides are Demagogic and manipulative. Both sides are the problem. The two machines feed each other, and the public gets chewed up in the middle. So stop pointing fingers at the “other,” and instead look in the mirror.
And if you think one side has “all the solutions,” then why are there still no solutions? Eight years of Obama, a Democrat, and what does he have to show for it? Is our broken prison system any better? Was bailing out the corrupt banks a wise choice? Is healthcare any less expensive? Are our massive obesity statistics shrinking or growing? Are Americans any healthier? Are drug costs going up or down? Are cops still murdering people, especially minorities? Did Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Latin America get better? Do we still have a massive drug problem? Did the national debt grow or shrink? Did the budget deficit grow or shrink? I could go on and on. Open your eyes, please. Everything is the same or worse. He was terrible. Democrats are just as bad as Republicans, generally speaking. Both are corrupt. Both get nothing done and have been making everything worse. Stop pointing fingers. Though I’m sure Democratic candidates will happily lie to you in the midst of the latest recorded police murder that they’ll solve all your problems, while calling the Right racist. I highly doubt it. But let’s see.
While I’m trying to cram entire books into a short article, let’s briefly touch on the fact that you cannot 100% blame any single issue on any single person. Again, issues and historical events are multifacted and compounded by various pretexts. Let’s take the War on Terror. You may instinctively blame it all on Bush Jr and Cheney. But the reality is, Osama bin Laden (OBL) was decades in the making. Years of colonizing Palestine, unequivocal support for Israel despite the entire international community denouncing them by consensus for the past 70+ years straight, allying with the Saudis, the Soviet-Afghan War and its various complexities, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War, America’s concept of a “liberal world order” and spreading “freedom and democracy abroad,” Western arrogance and ethonocentrism, and a host of other pretexts both historic and contemporary all played into the War on Terror. And this is a tiny shortlist. Ironically, though, Trump is the best president we’ve had in remedying this domain of foreign policy, so far at least. Though he, and those before him, inherited a giant mess, and Obama made it far worse. Just because someone has a certain label on their political party platform (“Democrat,” “Republican,” etc) doesn’t mean they know foreign policy (or don’t). It just indicates what kind of lies they’ll spew around election time to get your vote. It’s all a game of votes, not of morality, ethics, or education. (No wonder Socrates and Plato advocated a technocracy over a democracy).
Now let’s take healthcare. This is also decades in the making. It wasn’t just Bush Jr. or Obama or any other XYZ single person or presidency. They all fed into the machine, but its roots go way back and, again, the issue is multifaceted and complex. Insurance companies, lawsuits, rising salaries, profiteering, complicated billing systems, unnecessary tests, and a slew of other complicated issues. I severely doubt any single bill or single candidate is going to “fix the problem.” If they claim this, they’re probably lying to your face for a vote.
Racism in America. We’re all pretty aware of it now, I think. But you can’t just blame Trump for America being racist. He’s a demogogue who uses Right-wing voter sensibilities as a political platform–quite successfully in one perspective (he won the election, after all). If he didn’t do it, would he have won? Then which other Republican candidate would play the same card? Racism, again, is centuries in the making, going way back even before Europeans discovered the Americas. It is linked with inner city violence, the school-to-prison system, prison profiteering, various other abuses of minorities and the poor in general (slumlording, predatory financing, etc), low police recruiting, poor police training and low standards, lobbyists, education inequality, predatory politicking, drugs, and a host of other issues are all at play here in a highly intricate, complex, and multifaceted problem. If anybody tells you they’re going to “fix it” overnight by simply voting for them, they’re lying to your face. These problems have been festering for centuries and nobody, so far, has done much of anything to repair the damage. Our leaders, all of them, front to back, either have no idea what they’re doing or simply don’t have the gonads to stand up to the lobbyists and do what’s right. And our own ignorance and naivete as voters is part of the problem.
Not to mention the basic difference between federal, state, and local government. When an issue like police violence happens, which is a local government issue, suddenly voting for my personally preferred presidential candidate will solve your local precinct’s issues. What? “Oh Trump plays the race card” is the typical explain away. Yet again, eight years of Obama produced what? Nothing. And how many other Democrats over the decades? And time and again, these violent murders occur under Democrat-dominated governments on both the state and local level (like Minneapolis). Even 60 years of Democrats in some places, and we still have the same issues. And what does the presidency have to do with your local police precinct, anyways? They’ve probably been having issues for literally centuries. Blaming Trump just feeds the machine–you’re falling prey to predatory politics and opportunistic rhetoric. Democrats have done nothing to solve anything, almost ever in history, anywhere in America. Republicans are equally problematic. Our issues are complex, but getting votes and pandering to the latest televised sensibilities is just way too easy. Then 4 years later, regardless of the party they ran under, nothing changed.
Every election cycle is replete with this garbage rhetoric from both sides of the dichotomous political line. Quite honestly, I’m tired of it. And so should you. Let’s get educated, folks, and see through the absurdities of each and every candidate, whatever their party. Stop picking sides and start being objective. And of course, if any sensible human being were to run on a platform saying “I’m going to stand up to the lobbyists, ignore the corrupt, and do what’s right,” he/she will never get elected or even make it to the debates. And even if they did get elected, the massive political machine and lobbying money would fight tooth and nail and stop them from ever accomplishing anything helpful.
What do I do? Well I try to hear all sides, and just get educated. And pray for this country. Here’s some comments from a “vote Biden” Medium article that may be a little eye opening:
You know Biden supported racial segregation and said he didn’t want his kids “growing up in a racial jungle”, right? And he literally wrote the bill responsible for the mass incarceration of black people, calling them “predators.” And he lied constantly about being involved in the civil rights movement. But yeah, Biden was right; you’re not black if you refuse to vote for the “lesser of two white supremacists.” For the record, I know lots of black Americans, including my wife, who aren’t voting for either of these old, white, racist scumbags. Did you do any research before writing this?
Minneapolis hasn’t had a Republican mayor serve more than a day in office since 1961. The city council currently has no Republicans. Minnesota hasn’t had a Republican Senator since 2009 and hasn’t had a Republican governor since 2011.
Louisville hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1969. The 26-person Louisville city council currently has seven Republicans. The Kentucky governorship has been in Republican hands for only 12 years total since 1947.
Repeat this exercise in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, etc. and it’s some version of the same story over and over—city firmly controlled by the Democratic Party for decades in states often controlled by the Democratic Party for decades.
How does the systemic brutality of police forces in cities/states firmly controlled by the Democratic Party establishment argue in favor of a candidate at the top of that establishment who has his own history of bragging about work that led directly to the mass and disproportionate incarceration of black people? Not to mention Biden’s boasting about finding common ground with vicious segregationists, calling Barack Obama articulate/clean, and a slew of other indignities inflicted on the black community. Shit, three of his top potential running mates have come under fire for their law-and-order backgrounds—Klobuchar, former prosecutor; Harris, former prosecutor; and Demings, former police chief who oversaw a force known for brutality.
I am explicitly not saying a vote for Donald Trump is the answer. That’s for each voter to decide and he clearly isn’t helping the situation.
But the fact remains that members of the Democratic Party have had the power, means, time, and opportunity to kill whatever rot there is inside these police forces. Indeed, doing so has been their obligation and they have failed to do so.
At a certain point, that has to count for something or the problems will never get addressed.Andrew Endymion
Back to my point that every candidate is terrible. Whatever your political party or candidate is, they’ve probably done absolutely nothing, and they’re perpetuating the same, decades-old issues as everyone else. Can we blame voters for falling for demagogues on both sides? Back to another election where both candidates are problematic. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s that Biden is no better than Trump. What now? Another typical election cycle of false promises, lies, memes, one-liners, and playground politics.
I wish we could all just sit down together, whatever your party is, put our heads together, list out the issues, and say “we’ve got a lot of issues in America. How are we going to solve these issues? How are we going to close the budget deficit? How are we going to improve infrastructure? The drug problem? Police brutality? Mass incarceration?” And so on. If only we, the public, could evolve beyond petty partisan politics, and listen to the other side instead of jumping to one-liners and “gotcha” rhetoric, so we can sit down and focus on actually solving our problems systematically and in a unified way.
Leaders We Deserve?
Ibn al-Qayyim wrote about how people get leaders they deserve:
Ibn Al-Qayyim writes in his book Miftah Dar As-Sa’adah:
Reflect upon the wisdom of the Exalted in making the kings of the servants, their leaders, and their rulers to be from the same species of action as them. Rather, it is as if their actions become manifest in their rulers and kings.
If the people are upright, then their kings will remain upright. If they turn away from righteousness, then their kings will also turn away. If the servants commit oppression, then their kings and rulers will oppress them.
If there appears plotting and deception among the people, their rulers will behave likewise. If the people prevent the rights of Allah from being fulfilled among themselves and become miserly regarding their rights, then their kings and rulers will withhold the rights that they have upon them and will become miserly regarding them.
If the people take from those considered weak what they do not deserve to take, then the kings will take from them what they do not deserve and inflict them with taxes. Everything that the people take away from the weak, the kings will take away from them by force.
Thus, the actions of the people become manifest in the actions of the rulers. It is not from the divine wisdom that wrongdoers and sinners are made to be ruled by anyone except those like them.
The first generations of Islam were the most righteous, so their rulers were likewise. When they later became tarnished with corruption, the rulers over them became corrupted. Hence, the wisdom of Allah refuses that righteous rulers like Mu’awiyah and Umar ibn Abdul Aziz are put in authority over us in these times, let alone the likes of Abu Bakr and Umar. Rather, our rulers are in accordance with our nature and the rulers of those before us were in accordance with their nature.
Source: Miftah Dar As-Sa’adah 1/253-254
قال ابن القيم رحمه الله وتأمل حكمته تعالى في ان جعل ملوك العباد وأمراءهم وولاتهم من جنس اعمالهم بل كأن أعمالهم ظهرت في صور ولاتهم وملوكهم
فإن ساتقاموا استقامت ملوكهم وإن عدلوا عدلت عليهم وإن جاروا جارت ملوكهم وولاتهم
وإن ظهر فيهم المكر والخديعة فولاتهم كذلك وإن منعوا حقوق الله لديهم وبخلوا بها منعت ملوكهم وولاتهم ما لهم عندهم من الحق ونحلوا بها عليهم
وإن اخذوا ممن يستضعفونه مالا يستحقونه في معاملتهم اخذت منهم الملوك مالا يستحقونه وضربت عليهم المكوس والوظائف وكلما يستخرجونه من الضعيف يستخرجه الملوك منهم بالقوة
فعمالهم ظهرت في صور اعمالهم وليس في الحكمة الالهية ان يولى على الاشرار الفجار الا من يكون من جنسهم ولما كان الصدر الاول خيار
القرون وابرها كانت ولاتهم كذلك فلما شابوا شابت لهم الولاة فحكمه الله تأبى ان يولي علينا في مثل هذه الازمان مثل معاوية وعمر بن عبدالعزيز فضلا عن مثل ابي بكر وعمر بل ولاتنا على قدرنا وولاة من قبلنا على قدرهم
1/253-254 مفتاح دار السعادة
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.