Election 2016: Character Alignment for Voters
The summer before 8th grade, I got sucked into a computer game called Myst. Memories from those formative years end up being bright and vivid, so that when I smell summer in the air from an open window or a certain song that played on the radio in the background, it takes me back to the hours I spent in front of that computer, discovering that world.
It's why I never allowed myself to get into World of Warcraft, but also why I've never done an RPG (role-playing game) like Dungeons and Dragons. The problem is that I know I'd love them just a little too much, and that every other recreational/social activity (including this blog) would fall by the wayside.
There are, however, concepts from RPGs that intrigue me, particularly with regard to the creativity required to build world and characters and scenarios. Much of Dungeons and Dragons is akin to writing an elaborate story, and one of the best tools from that world for writers everywhere has been the character alignment system.
The categories set characters up according to their moral and ethical code, and when thinking through how a character's decision-making process works, you set them up on an axis of law vs. chaos, and on another axis of good vs. evil. The breakdown looks something like this:
The alignment has made its way out of the world of sci-fi and fantasy, as the ever-intrepid Internet meme-ifies everything from Presidents to historical figures.
The interesting thing about the character alignment system is the different opinions on which category ends up being the most dangerous. Obviously chaotic evil - those who disregard rules and other people, seeking only to further their own selfish desires and personal freedoms - is one of the most dangerous (and is it just me, or does that correspond perfectly with the personality of President Trump?). Lawful Good has its own issues, with its blind adherence to rules. But both pale in comparison to the banality of evil represented by the Neutrals.
The concept of the "banality of evil" arose from German-born, Jewish-American political theorist, Hannah Arendt. In her research on Adolf Eichmann, Arendt posited that people who carry out unspeakable crimes are often not ideologues, but normal individuals who simply complacently accept the premises of the state and participate in blind ignorance.
The voters who came out in the 2016 election cycle seemed to fit the mold of the neutrals - Lawful Neutral (those who place high value on order, rules, and tradition, and tend to follow orders - see: "Hillary Clinton voters") and Chaotic Neutral (individualists who shirk rules and traditions in pursuit of their own personal freedom, which always come first - see: "non-voters" and "third-party voters"). Trump voters, who were able to dismiss his uglier rhetoric while highlighting choice soundbites that they agreed with, fall squarely in Neutral Evil alignment (those who choose allies simply to further their own goals, and who have no compunctions about harming others in the process of getting what they want). True Neutral - those who have no particular alignment and who often actively seek to balance all alignments, often to their detriment - best describes media outlets covering the 2016 Election.
Donald Trump is quite obviously Chaotic Evil, but does that make him the most dangerous? I'd posit that he is merely a symptom, a creation of neutrals, whose very dangerous complacency over the course of multiple presidencies led us down the path we're on now.
Somebody roll that 12/20-sided die again.