Don’t play with people’s lives

The United States just shouldered through the longest government shutdown in history and another one is looming on the horizon. During the 35 days of the shutdown, 800,000 people were furloughed and many others lost access to crucial services.

While many people struggled, many more found time to joke around on the internet. On Twitter, the hashtag #ElectCardiB trended after a 30-second clip of the star condemning Trump’s actions went viral. 

These calls are nothing new – ostensibly progressive people seem to want any celebrity who shares a half baked opposition to our president to make a 2020 bid. 

And whether Cardi B. took the support from their fans to heart, it speaks to a larger problem regarding the standards we have for those in office. 

We have a celebrity in office who has no experience in politics, withholding vital paychecks from hundreds of thousands of citizens in a pissing contest over a campaign slogan and a promise he cannot fulfill. 

We have career politicians worth millions – and even billions – of dollars playing a weak game of chess with minimum-wage workers who subsist paycheck-to-paycheck, with no legislative movement in sight to improve the quality of their lives.

Bids for the presidency seem to be coming in left and right, with eight Democratic candidates already announced, and big celebrities and billionaires hinting at runs – even if it’s just to get some hits on their name. 

The 2020 election may seem far away, but the race has already begun. 

It’s never too early to evaluate people who have announced they may run for the presidency – don’t let the first person who says “never Trump” sway your opinion. Sound bites and social media posts should not be enough for you to wholeheartedly support a candidate without doing independent research.

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced his presidential bid, telling reporters this is a “season for boldness.” But Americans shouldn’t be bold simply for show. We should temper our boldness with reason and good sense, not just act on a desire to tip the political scale in our perceived favor. 

Just because someone is a Democrat or Republican does not mean they automatically deserve your support or your vote. The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. We must not turn a blind eye to a candidate’s actions, Democrat or Republican, just because their problematic political history pales next to Trump’s. 

With humorous political bumper stickers and “campaigns” to elect celebrities, Americans seem to think politics is a joke. But politicians toying with people’s lives, turning the government off and on like its a defective cell phone, seem to see it as the biggest joke of all. 

Don’t let them get away with it. 

With the seemingly endless indictments rolling in, the accusations of Russian collusion, the porn star affairs, the comedic fast food dinners in the White House dining room, and the denial of climate change, it’s easy for other politicians and their platforms to look banal – or downright enlightened – in comparison.   

Trump’s tumultuous presidency is without precedent and should never be used as a litmus test for evaluating future candidates. 

Instead of lowering our standards, this presidency should inspire us to scrutinize more deeply those we elect to run our country.

Now is the time to be serious, to put aside divisive politics, and to demand leaders who don’t see people as pawns.