America is Not a Simulation

10/10/2016 01:41 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2017
Electronic Arts Inc.

When I was a kid, I used to like to play SimCity. Actually... that's misleading. I didn't exactly play it. I didn't have the patience to build cities from scratch or try to manage one of the fully-developed ones that came with the game. Instead, I would load a pre-made city -- Boston was my favorite -- and unleash as many disasters on it as I could. Earthquakes, tornadoes... there was even a Godzilla! What can I say... I was only 15 at the time and that sort of stuff was fun to watch. Then I'd delight in the destruction that I had caused, quit the game (without saving), and come back and do it again.

That's what I'm reminded of when I hear people talk about electing Donald Trump as a "destabilizing force" who will "blow up Washington" and build a new, presumably better system in its place. I understand the rationale, in theory -- burn down what you perceive as a broken system so that a phoenix may rise from its ashes -- but I have a couple of problems with that. First, is Trump really a good choice to do the rebuilding? Does he have the experience required to handle what would be a monumentally complex and delicate task? And how he envisions this "America Reborn" is still maddeningly unclear to me. He says it's supposed to be great again, but that's really all we know. Where are the specifics? I'm not sure Donald himself knows the answer to that question.

Second, and more importantly, is that I believe that our current system of government, for the most part, works. Yeah, it's not perfect... far from it, in fact. Watching the Congressional deadlock over the last six years has been excruciating, and our economic recovery from the Great Recession isn't as fast as many would like it to be. But our country is by and large successful, it's resilient, and in the course of a measly 240 years -- a drop in the historical bucket -- we've become that "shining city on a hill" that Reagan so optimistically portrayed in 1980, and stayed there. Yeah, we can do better. We can always do better. But we're already doing pretty damn good, and I believe that to blow it up now would be a devastating blow to our democracy... clearing the way for a demagogue like Trump to fill the ensuing vacuum. But there's no "King of America" for a reason. Our Founding Fathers envisioned our country as a democracy, not an authoritarian regime. So when Donald Trump uses phrases like "I alone can fix this," it quite frankly scares the crap out of me.

The kid in me still appreciates the appeal of unleashing Godzilla just to see what happens, and what kind of destruction it would wreak. But America isn't a simulation. There's much more at stake here, and you have to live with the consequences of the devastation you unleash. You can't just hit reset and start again. We should elect a leader who understands that, and knows that while we have to keep improving, we should also appreciate and cherish what we've already accomplished and just how far we've come.

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