We should listen to Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.
Am I really saying that? Yes, I am, and I’m saying it because if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been tuning them out. That is, as much as it’s actually possible to tune out two loudmouths in media-saturated, 21st-century America.
But, besides the fact that it’s essential not to enclose ourselves in an echo chamber (what most Republicans and Fox News watchers do today), besides the fact that it’s important to know what the opposition is saying for a variety of reasons, I honestly believe that we can learn something from everyone. Even from the most ignorant, for example, we can learn how not to be. So, at the very least by listening to Palin and Trump we can learn that we don’t want to be like them.
However, there are other reasons as well. Let’s first take Trump. As much as I dislike and disagree with most of the things that he says, I understand his appeal. How many politicians take back a statement mere hours after saying it? How many times have we had to hear a nonsensical explanation for a stupid comment that we know was probably fully meant when it was first said?
By listening to Trump, I’ve learned that while I don’t want to be like him, I do want more politicians to be. Not in the [full] content of his character or his speeches. But, they can learn at least one thing from him. Politicians need to stand by their beliefs. To do this, they need to have convictions that last longer than the time it takes to get polling results, and the courage to defend them. Of course, it can be argued that Trump’s courage comes precisely from polling results. The more outrageous his remarks, the higher he climbs in the polls. But, there’s no denying that from day one he spoke his mind and clearly stated what he believes in without apology or backtracking.
Trump has been a political blessing, not just for Democrats, as he has the Republican establishment horrified and unsure; not just for the entire nation, as he shows how extreme the Republican Party has turned. Trump (or Trumpenstein, as I affectionately call him) has shown me how tired I am of political doublespeak and BS. While sane Democrats will never vote for him, Trump’s impact on our political system will be felt for years to come.
As for Palin, there are a few good reasons for listening to her. First of all, there is humor. Everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine. While Palin is definitely not the medicine our ailing political system needs in order to heal, at least the positive effects of laughing at her can give us the energy (and the motivation) we need to keep looking for a cure.
Secondly, the entertainment factor. Politics has never been this much fun. Palin is like a magnetic train wreck pulling people of all ages into the political process, if nothing else, by mere curiosity. With Palin in the picture, we can say that curiosity killed the politically indifferent cat.
Last, but not least, I’m willing to bet that listening to Palin, trying to make sense of what she means must create so many new brain connections that degenerative mental illnesses might be staved off, even eliminated.
So listen to these two. Whatever your reasons, chances are you’ll learn something.