Nostalgic Intentions


Last June, when Donald Trump announced that he would be running for president, it almost seemed like a joke. Aside from a devoted group of followers, a majority of America comforted their outrage by laughing at the absurdity of someone so reminiscent of a Troll Doll becoming the 45th president of the United States. But with time Trump’s presidential prospects became more realistic. Jimmy Fallon and SNL continue to make jokes, but we’re almost afraid to laugh at them. An entire sector of America holds its breath, praying that they will wake up from a bad dream only to find Donald Trump back to ghostwriting memoirs and building towers with retail space no one can sell. Alongside the rise of Trump there has been a backlash movement based on the fear of the counter-progressive intentions of his platform.

Yet Trump’s campaign features the same emotion that attaches us to memories of our childhood. It has transformed into a digression on the progress we’ve started and retreat to the haven of the past we’ve constructed. “We will make America great again.” For many, this phrase sends a chill up our spines. It prompts a hotness that understands the racism and sexism that lingers in that “again.” But is it not the same feeling that keeps us up at night? Is it not the same nostalgia that we feel when flipping through old photo albums, or watching our favorite childhood films? Trump’s campaign slogan is not nearly so harmless as this daily nostalgia, but it reveals the dangerous emotions that linger behind my love for Kraft mac and cheese and Mary Poppins. Is it possible that Donald Trump’s destructive nostalgia is partially the result of his own idealization of his childhood? The incredible thing is that childhood is constantly put on a pedestal by liberals and conservatives alike. It is the newborns who are the most pure, it is our childhood memories that are the fondest. This is but a gateway into a slope the political nostalgia that Donald Trump has made popular. It is woefully inconsistent with the plight for progress to value the past above the future. Childhood, as lovely as it might have been, is an adult obsession that only brings us back to the past.

We may find pleasure in reliving our childhood, but the problem comes in the general acceptance of the idealization of the past. When a society determines that the idealization of the past is an acceptable way of thinking, there’s no stopping it; when people decide that this idealized past is better than the progress America could make, there’s no way of going forward. In short, there’s nothing wrong with loving dinosaur chicken nuggets and Disney movies. The problem comes when we attempt to turn the future into the oxymoron that is a nostalgic paradise. America’s best chance at an unachievable utopian equality is to learn from the past and move forward. I think that a majority of the anti-Trump movement believes this. However, outside of the political sphere they continue to subscribe to the concept of the nostalgia they condemn. To be thoroughly progressive requires that one examines his or her own life and seeks to eliminate potentially destructive fixations with the past. Politics extend from our attitudes and to shun Trumps nostalgic antics, one must shun his or her own. So stop flipping through photo albums with a sense of longing. Move forward; not only for your own well-being, but for the well being of this country. Let’s live what we preach and make the anti-Trump movement into an anti-nostalgia movement.



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