Nothing much is going on in the RV dept. of late – we’re still in the throes of preparing for retirement (December) and greasing the skids for our RV escape. But I thought I’d pull some stuff out of my brain to fill this space up. So I decided to weigh in on the elections. Prepare to cringe.
I’ve gotta say that I don’t like either of the candidates, but as many before me have said so eloquently, it’s not about who you like, but about who you dislike the least. I’ll start in on my absolute least favorite.
Donald Trump (Hillary’s turn is coming up)
I first became aware of Trump about 30-35 years ago, back before he became the “You’re Fired” guy, and if you said “The Donald” they assumed that you were talking about Donald Duck. I like to keep abreast of goings on in the world, and so I found myself occasionally measuring Trump up just to see what was making him go, in a peripheral way, kind of like when you’re rolling down the interstate and you see an accident that occurred before you got there, you’re fleetingly interested and then your momentum carries you past the scene. Trump had his signature bad hair even back then, and I put it down then as some kind of ego-driven attempt to make the world believe that he didn’t have a bald spot. I thought then that it looked like he had a duck sitting on his head, ass-end-forward, and wondered why he didn’t yield to the criticism that it made him look weird.
Of course, now in retrospect, his comb-over now seems to me to fit his general pattern of covering up or denying the reality and pitching something that inflates his ego if he can find somebody to believe it. Criticism is, of course, wrong, since he is right. Always. The mark of the sublime narcissist. Back then he was married to Ivana, and everything I read in the papers indicated to me that it was a marriage of money, business, one-way sex and little else. Trump was quoted as saying, about why he never gave Ivana gifts, “Why give her negotiable assets?” That marriage had a real future. I kept seeing Trump’s name in the papers, usually things done at parties, etc. Everybody seemed to want to get close to him, but the word was, it cost them to hang on, however fleetingly, to that commodity he sold called “proximity to himself” (“they kiss my ass” being one of the more delightful images in which he describes peoples’ attraction to him based on their own self-interest. Either you directly contributed to something he had going on, or you owed a favor to be called in later, inevitably. He was the Rod Blagoevich of the black-tie set since, as Ivana eventually found out, you had to pay to play, either in the form of favors, or fawning compliments. Again, I dismissed him as a flake, without anything that I could admire, and I was very glad that I didn’t have proximity.
As the years rolled on, I occasionally (yes I am a well-read guy) read where Trump was in and out of bankruptcy court, and I had to wonder about how a zillionaire goes through his money that easily. I mean, I at least have to think really hard sometimes about how to stay afloat. All the while, there was this undercurrent in the press of “Yeah, Right”, about why Trump had to incessantly remind people that he was a billionaire, and every now and then there was an article that alleged that he was just gassing about his money. He really didn’t have more than a couple of hundred million, they said. Exaggerations, they said. OK, I wondered. Why?
When next I heard about Trump, he was emceeing the show in which he gets to tell people they’re fired. So why, I asked myself, does a zillionaire feel like he needs to do this? Earning what a game show host earns? Now, of course, I see a firmer pattern emerging. Back then we didn’t talk much about narcissism – I didn’t even know what the word meant. But I would bet (there are no statistics about this) that the premise of a man at the top who had thumbs-down power over people every week was what fed his ego. Just my opinion generalized from his public behavior.
Hail to the Donald
Imagine my disappointment when Trump decided he was fit to be my president! Since I live near D.C. I try to read the Washington Post a couple of times a week, and just to temper it with the other side of the political spectrum, I also read the Wall Street Journal with about the same frequency. The Post, in particular, seems to have embarked on a “Trump is unfit to be president” campaign, where it seems that each staff writer takes a turn, on a particular day, at trying to come up with unique ways to say this and unique events and soundbites that back up their viewpoint. Of course, you have to expect this, since the WP is sort of a liberal newspaper (which is like saying Guanabara Bay*, in Rio, is sort of unpleasant), but it’s really easy when Trump offers them such juicy material to work with. The Khans, the Wall, the Supreme Court, the judge, the annoyingly persistent, take-no-crap woman reporter, etc. I sort of applaud them anyway, just because I don’t like the guy and find his gaffes increasingly amusing. You can’t make this stuff up. Even the WSJ doesn’t have much good to say about Trump, although they keep to the general conservative line when saying it, occasionally bashing the Republicans lining up on Trump’s side but never going so far as criticizing his other, fervent supporters like the KKK and NRA. Mustn’t annoy the natives.
I was amazed when I read about all the people who were lining up to support Trump as the Republican candidate. I told myself, boy, people must be really tired of Obama, and if you are a conservative – as defined by the GOP base’s shift to the right in recent years – Obama is definitely your boogieman. But don’t they know about the thing of being careful what they ask for? They might just get it?
Anyway, Trump’s new exposure on TV and the press seemed to confirm everything that I thought and feared, those long years ago, except it took on a very different flavor for me. No way, I thought, could people be hoodwinked by this guy in any kind of numbers, even the folks who want a political outsider and very little else in their president. So much for that. Most of the folks I’ve seen on Facebook and in the “comment” section of online articles, however, don’t have any kind of arguments past the boilerplate, “you’re a f***ing liberal/progressive/Muslim/Mexican, etc” Or they just say, “Bullshit!” and don’t explain further. I’d like to see, at least, a few thought processes and maybe some evidence that Trump’s supporters temper their news input with more than just beer, talk radio and locker room yukkity. I don’t see much of this, though. Where I live, election season is also rutting season for the deer. They will blindly chase each other across the road in their rutting funk, without even looking at or even thinking about the car that’s going to kill them, because they can’t, or refuse to, process that stream of information in defiance of their hormones. Yeah, I sort of see a comparison.
I was equally dismayed by the prospect that the RNC seemed to support anybody, anybody at all with no vetting of their personality, who could command the numbers to defeat Hillary, despite how egregiously incapable Trump is. Of course, the other GOP candidates all knew their base, and tried to curry favor to show everybody they were more right-wing than Hitler, which sort of dashed my hopes that somebody with a brain might take a moderate stance that matched my own. But when the primaries overwhelmingly fell to Trump, despite the fact that just about everybody in Republican Leadership, who are generally not stupid about their own survival, knows that he would be a disaster as a president, and they didn’t care, I knew it was time to sever my lifetime connection to all things Republican, and I became a Democrat when I renewed my drivers’ license this July. I could not support an ideology that embraces winning by any means over quality. Those politicians craven enough to sell their principles to get Donald’s support – and you could see they were chewing their words when they lined up to praise him – reminded me so much about the Rod Blagoevich comparison above, that I could see no value in continuing to support them. Me and you, Georgie Will.
So, in closing, let me say that it is my fervent hope that Trump’s fugue as a compleat narcissist eventually begins to show the world that he is, just maybe, incapable of being president. I mean, do we want this guy’s finger on the nuclear football? Do we want him representing America? Given his “get even” attitude, can we really expect him to send Americans off to their potential deaths as Commander-in-Chief and genuinely fret over the danger that he has placed them in? Can he be expected to adequately represent the needs of U.S. citizens of minority ethnicity and Muslim faith? I suspect not. Trump’s campaign manager said, probably seriously after he was fired, that it was Trump’s fervent hope that he would win in the popular vote, but be defeated by the electoral vote because it would help his business affairs. And wasting, by the way, every Republican’s hope for a Republican presidency. But it may have been just sour grapes, since he was in fact fired and apparently wasn’t a deep thinker.
And all of you Trump drones, older white guys who long for past days of greatness (the adage, “you can never go home” is apt here) when you were guaranteed employment as a result of American’s economic clout and postwar manufacturing abilities and monopolies, now you’re lining up behind Trump when he says, “Make America Great Again,” coyly refusing to reveal details of how he expects to achieve this. Hmmm, aren’t you even curious? Well, here’s a revelation: We are already great. I have been to many places around the world, and despite some governments’ official stances of hatred towards America, mostly due to the danger that democracy represents to their leaders’ monopoly of power and style of government, a large portion of their educated populations embrace everything that the U.S. represents, failing to admit it only when doing so will get them thrown into prison or get them denounced by their conservative religious leaders. The fourth amendment (Unlawful Search and Seizure) is a particularly American invention, after all, and not shared by many, many countries. They watch our TV, wear our brands of clothing, NFL and MLB caps and t-shirts, drive our cars, follow our news feeds, learn our language, and wish that they lived here. So I would like to repeat, especially if Trump reads this: Donald, with your demonstrably superficial knowledge of political workings, you can’t possibly make America greater than it already is. Its greatness is based on its diversity, ethics and tolerance, its Constitution and its courts. And no wall, or anti-whoever pogrom, or isolationism, or anti-trade tariff can possibly make it greater. Do we have competition in the world? You bet. In some cases, courtesy of the Marshall Plan, George Soros and many, many U.S.-government-sponsored NGOs that promote fair business ethics and private enterprise among the youth in the world and the rise of the middle class, we actually helped encourage that competition. Did you ever wonder why Iran arrests anybody who promotes Western entrepreneurship among its youth? They fear those Western-backed NGOs, that erode their own authority. But protectionism and trade barriers won’t reduce your unemployment problems. The only thing that could make us fail is if business in America gets the idea that it is more welcome elsewhere and moves offshore. Oh yeah, currently the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 4.9%. Pretty damn low. Stocks are up, Americans are saving.more. So you were complaining about what element of greatness that we lack?
* I hear that the olympic team likes to call Guanabera bay, “Guano Berry Bay.”