Playing The Trump Card

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Soundtrack “An American Tune” by Paul Simon.

Does copper rust? I sure hope not, because the statue of liberty is crying. Democracy has taken a wrong turn, and all of the soldiers who fought and died for such ethereal things as justice, equality and freedom have been betrayed. Our democratic foundation was built on the belief that all men (and woman) are created equal, but the outcome of our recent election has revealed cracks in these tenets that we once held as self evident. We have been mislead into an “us against them” world, creating a myopic America where those with different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and racial heritage are no longer welcomed or tolerated.  In fact, they’ve been singled out and blamed for our financial, social and national woes.

Our president elect has exploited these divisive beliefs in order to single himself out as the only person with the power and knowledge to solve our problems. He’s gained power by preying on our weakest of emotions—–fear! This is a primal emotion that causes us to dehumanize those that are different from us (please see Hitler and the Jews as an historical reference). This is the antithesis of what Hilary Clinton had proclaimed “We are stronger together.” Hate is the stepchild of fear and hate separates us and makes us politically weaker. Striking a single match of hate can ignite a firestorm capable of burning down the noblest of palaces.

I guess I thought we were better than this. Better than the hate spewed by an authoritarian fascist. It seems as though our blessed pledge of allegiance and our beloved “God Bless America” our merely flimsy words we’ve chanted until they’ve lost their meaning. And now, I sadly see the difference between pledges and actions, ideology and reality, democracy and rhetoric, integrity and malevolent tweets. Our covers have been pulled back to reveal something ugly and hate driven—–hypocrisy and bigotry.

Those that our weak and fearful give up their power to authoritarian leaders who will make decisions without their consent. After all, it’s easier to have someone give simplistic black and white answers in a kaleidoscope colored world. Those that want simple answers to complex social issues are willing to suspend their belief in decency, empathy and fairness in exchange for a catchy soundbites like “Make America Great Again”. Such slogans feel good to shout and fit neatly on bumper stickers.  They’re emotionally potent but anemic in details and substance. What has always made America great has been its ability to create opportunity for all of its citizens, not just the ones who fit into a narrow minded definition of “American”. The American melting pot has morphed into a sifter, allowing  only those of a certain pedigree to call themselves “American——enough”.

Donald’s “Trump card” has always been to delegitimize his opponents. Eight years ago he attempted to delegitimize President Obama by claiming that he was not born in America and therefor not eligible to be president. He tried to delegitimized Carly Fiorina by exclaiming “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for a face like that?” He tried to delegitimize Megyn Kelly by insinuating that she was asking tough questions because she was menstruating. He tried to delegitimize a reporter by mocking his disability. He tried to delegitimize Mexican immigrants by lumping them into a single group and claiming  “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapist”.  He followed this up by stating “They’re some bad hombres”. He delegitimized females by objectifying them and claiming that because he’s rich and famous he can kiss whoever he wants and grab any woman by their privates. He tried to delegitimize a judge who was presiding over his case by claiming that because he was of Mexican decent that he would not be impartial in doing his professional duties. He attempted to delegitimized Hillary Clinton by repeatedly addressing her as “Crooked Clinton”.

I’m still trying to comprehend why folks would vote for someone as caustic as Trump. I’ve come to believe that his inflated charisma is due to what I call the “Kardashian Effect”. We live in a culture that’s hypnotized by celebrity worship. Individuals become celebrities simply from their incessant media exposure.  Their sole talent is in extending their fifteen minutes of fame by being a provocateur.  If you’re trending, you’re winning.  If it smells it sells. And, if it spins, repeat it again.  Being civil and polite is so pedestrian, while being inflammatory and irreverent is sexy——and more importantly, it entertains and it sells.

And with fame there comes many benefits.  Fame allows one to manufacture counterfeit truth.  It then offers a megaphone so that this truth can be broadcasted far and wide.  Fame provides celebrities with a teflon conscience and an alzheimer’s memory.  And finally, it comes with a get out of jail free card, “I’m rich and famous, so the rules and laws don’t apply to me……”

Trump once claimed, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I can only imagine Trumps twitter feed after such an incident “Today I shot and killed an individual on 5th Avenue. I believe he may have been an illegal Mexican immigrant rapist who practices the Muslim faith and was most likely an operative for ISIS.”   His millions of twitter followers would read the tweet, nod their head and respond with “Good job”.  As the saying goes, the only bad press is no press and the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. The media is the message. It no longer matters what someone says or does, what matters is if they’re accruing media time by creating drama. The individuals who dominate the media landscape and exploit their notoriety, are the people who are mapping the future of our culture.

We’ve become victims of the Stockholm syndrome. We’re willing hostages to a 24/7 media obsession. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the media is are our caretaker, our savior, our guardian of truth.  If something is said long enough and loud enough it becomes reality. Perception isn’t reality, perception is propaganda. Truth and reality is no longer the message, entertainment and ratings are the message. We surf the internet or change channels until we find our preferred brand of reality.  Where do you acquire your version of truth? Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush, Bill Maur?

The pundits and the professionals newscasters have become puppets to whatever or who ever gets the highest viewer ratings or the most clicks on social media. Being outrageous and offensive allows those who are skilled manipulators a platform to garner attention and followers. It makes them appear to be “The next big thing” If it bleeds it leads. If it smells it sells. If it spins, repeat it again. News and politics are no longer about facts or checks and balances, its about entertainment.  Trump is a showman, an entertainer, a master manipulator. He knows all the magic tricks, the art of distraction, deception and misdirection. When life becomes complicated, we may choose to suspend reality—-to believe in magical thinking.  It’s naive to believe that someone can snap their fingers and make a white dove appear——and it’s equally foolish to think that someone can  wave a magic wand and make eleven million immigrants disappear or sprinkle magic dust on the ground and suddenly have a 2,000 mile wall appear—-paid for by the Mexican government.  Some tricks are illusions, while others are outright lies…..I suppose “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people  all the time”. Abraham Lincoln

As our democracy slips into a downward spiral we must be vigilant. Our leaders will be looking for scapegoats to blame for our countries financial, social and national woes. First they’ll marginalize those that they want to exclude. They’ll say things like “They’re American, but not as American as us”. The second step will be to delegitimize those that they want to sequester. They’ll say things like “They’re not Americans and they’re not like us”. The third step will be to dehumanize those that they want to eliminate. They’ll say things like “They’re not American, they’re not like us——they’re subhuman”. This is a predictable pattern that has been employed throughout history by fascist authoritarian leaders who are seeking to gain and sustain their power.

I’ll leave you with some suggestions to consider as we enter into this new area of designer realities and malleable truths……

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be hypnotized by celebrity. Fame does not equal integrity.
  2. Advocate for your own education. Just because someone or something is on the internet or TV does not make what’s being represented accurate or true.
  3. Be extremely suspicious of someone who is offering simple answers to complex issues. Slogans, soundbites and bumper stickers are tools to encourage magical thinking.
  4. Do not fall into the trap of generalizing, stereotyping or profiling one group of people as being the sole reason that a problem exists.  These prejudices need to be run through your bullshit detector.
  5. Never bargain away your freedom, liberty or justice as an end to justify the means.
  6. Don’t be manipulated by fear. The only remedy for fear is courage. Question authority, demand facts, stay on point, demand verifiable results not anecdotal statements. Repeat your question until you’re satisfied with the answer.
  7. If someone minimizes, delegitimizes or dehumanizes a person or group of people, tell them that this is America, a land where all men and women are created equal. Reiterate that our Declaration of independence guarantees all citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Remind them that thousands of men and women have fought and died to preserve these inalienable rights and that they’re not negotiable and will never be compromised.
  8. Don’t be fooled by a herd mentality. Just because a lot of people are saying something or doing something does not make it right or ethical.
  9. Don’t become emotionally attached to your beliefs. Do your research, pay attention to details and facts. Look at issues with an open mind and test your outcomes by playing the devils advocate.
  10. Get out of your bubble.  Don’t rely on a specific news network, a celebrity or a group of like minded friends to be your only reference point when assessing ideas and information.

It’s impossible to legislate morality, but I pray for the day when we evolve to the point where compassion, empathy and acceptance are valued more than power, greed and intolerance.

Trump-ing The Truth

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As the old adage states, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just may just get it”. And in a word the republican party has what they’ve been wishing for “Trump”. He has picked up a mirror and placed it up to the face of the RNC. And, if the eyes are the mirror of the soul, then his beady little eyes reflect a narcasitic abyss.

Sitting at the head of the RNC table is Trump. And, those not offered a seat at this table include, Women, Immigrants, Mexicans, The Disabled, Muslims, LGBT, Veterans, Unions, Planned Parenthood and pretty much anyone who doesn’t hold the values of old white males still living in the “bad old days”. His tools of the trade include hate, fear and divisionism. As any totalitarian leader knows, employing these measures is the easiest way to inflame and manipulate the masses. It’s an “us against them” mentality. It thrives on a shallow myopic view of the world. It’s a philosophy that seeks to pit us against one another rather than unite us. It encourages walls rather than bridges. It feeds on intolerance and inflexibility. It allows no room for compromise and if you look at the disfunction and polarization of our legislators, then you will understand what I’m talking about.

A strange paradox has arisen in regards to those who say they will vote for Trump but don’t support his ideals. That’s like saying “I don’t support mass killings where AR-15 weapons are used, but I won’t vote to outlaw the sale of these weapons”. This is CRAZY THINKING.

Thinking before you speak is a sign of maturity and wisdom. Trump brags about not needing a TelePrompTer and prefers to blurt out whatever he is thinking or feeling at that particualr moment.  His unscripted speeches and tweets reveal someone who is insecure, manipulative and belligerent. Separately his rants may appear inconsequential and entertaining, but collectively they add up to someone who is flipant about their biases and prejudices. The sum of his rants are as great as his ego……And as he would put it “That’s HUUUGGGE”!

He dismisses the need for“politically correctness”. He seems to think that opposing “politically correctness” allows him to say anything he wants regardless of how mean, rude and immature it may be. He calls women pigs and objectfies females based on their body image. In his words “A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”   He has made disparaging remarks during a debate concerning presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.  When describing her appearance he stated “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?” He posted a picture of a challengers wife (Ms.Ted Cruz) intended to demean and disrespect her. His immature actions include callously mocking a disabled news reporter by sarcastically mimicking him in a cruel and unflattering manner (that type or behavior isn’t tolerated on a school yard).

Does dismissing political correctness allow Donald the right to revoke a news agencies press pass because they challenge his stance on specific issues? (that sounds more like a fascist  way of silencing ones critics).  He has called into question a federal judges integrity because of his Mexican heritage (Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated “That’s textbook racism”). He discriminates against the entire Mexican race by insinuating that they are rapists, drug dealers and criminals.  His simplistic answer for stoping immigrants from entering the United States is to “Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it”.  With a similiar cavalier swagger he speaks about creating an enforcement agency to round up and deport millions of Mexicans.

His prejudice knows no limits. He spews hate and casts suspicion against all who are followers of one of the worlds oldest and largest religions.  His agenda demands that all Muslims be denied entrance into the United States.  What’s next?  Do we demand DNA samples from all who want to enter the United States?  Do we imprison and banish those that don’t meet Donald’s definition of Aryan?

He denies science by failing to accept that climate change is a major threat to our planets future.  This is sure to please the oil and coal industries. His allegiance to the NRA will make it virtually impossible to outlaw automatic weapons. And he’s the one who’s claimed that he would not be influenced by special interest groups—Yeah, right!

His mean spirited attacks go completely against what America stands for. In reality his racist strategies are no different than what ISIS propaganda attempts to do, which is to demonize anyone who doesn’t conform to their religious and political ideals. Inclusiveness unites us and makes us stronger, exclusiveness only breeds contempt and violence against those who hold differing religious, political and philosophical views.

Donald believes that if you say something long enough and loud enough it will “Trump” the truth (no pun intended). The news outlets that continue to allow him a free forum for spewing his divisive tirades are only playing into his propaganda machine. He is of the rich, for the rich and by the rich. He preys upon our insecurities and fears.  “They” hate Americans.  “They’re” taking our jobs.” “They” aren’t like us.  “I will make America great again.”

America doesn’t need to be made great again.  America has been great sense its inception. What makes America great is the Bill Of Rights and our Constitution.  Trump overrides the promises of freedom and liberty that is promised in these documents when he redefines who  is eligible for these protections.

He is a master at manipulating the system for his own personal gain. His tax returns will reveal a man who is more interested in amassing a financial empire rather than paying his fair share in taxes. His Trump University and business dealings reveal a man devoid of integrity. His flawed character is displayed in his inflammatory tweets and hate laden rants. He has incited his followers to be violent towards those who protest at his rallies. He once stated “I want to punch him in the face.” Is that presidential or diplomatic? Is that the kind of behavior we expect from the leader of the free world? Once again, THAT’S CRAZY TALK!

Language is sacred. It’s the tool of poets, politicians, teachers and preachers. What we say and how we say it defines us. Listen closely to what Donald says, his choice of words and his voice inflection. Don’t defuse the things he has said by giving him a free pass or writing it off by saying “He didn’t really mean it, he was just being funny”. Such comments may seem funny and “entertaining” until you are on the receiving end of such hate and disrespect.

Those that support Trump may believe that after all is said and done they will be able to wash off his fifthly rhetoric with a sponge bath. I don’t think so. You can’t wash off a tattoo nor can you redeem your integrity by claiming ignorance or naïvety.  Those in the Republican Party that fail to denounce Trump and his ideology are complicit by their silence.  By choosing not to say or do anything is making a choice.

Politics is seldom taken personally until it hits home. It’s easy to say “That’s not my problem, it doesn’t affect me”. But in fact, when the validity and freedom of one person is jeopardized, it weakens freedom for all of us. It starts when we allow politicians and ideologies to single out and dehumanize those that are cast as“different”. This group becomes a scapegoat for all the current political and economic ills. Then comes the laws and justifications to marginalize that targeted group.

We must be our brother and sisters keeper and stand up for them when their rights and freedoms are called into question. This reminds me of a piece written by Pastor Martin Niemöller regarding the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Don’t allow Trump and his divisive rhetoric go unchecked. Now is the time to put him and his manipulative and mean spirited tactics to shame. In solidarity there is strength—with compassion comes understanding and in the long run a whispered truth has more power than a screamed lie.

 

Hitler’s Jews are now Trump’s Mexicans

The script is old, but the strategy remains the same. Hitler manipulated the masses by making Jews the scapegoat for the woes of Germany. He created mass hysteria by blaming the Jews for destroying the German economy. Hate and vengeance were powerful elixirs used to unite the masses against a “fabricated common enemy”. It’s a technique the 1% have historically employed to take the focus off their hold on power as they covertly manipulate the system for their gain.

And today, we have Trump pulling a page from the same playbook but using undocumented immigrants as the targeted enemy. He claims that undocumented immigrants are stealing our jobs, robbing, killing, raping and destroying our economy (sound familiar). The technique remains the same, just the names of the “designate enemy” have changed.

At one time it was communism threatening our way of life. We were told that we needed to stop “them” in Korea before they arrived at our doorstep. Next came the cold war with Russia and then Vietnam and the domino theory. And who can forget the ruse regarding “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The title of “designated enemy” has been penned on Blacks, Russians, Gays, Welfare recipients and Muslims The boogieman comes in all shapes and sizes. Hate mongering is the easiest and most sinister way to achieve power.

Trumps solution for dealing with Iraq is to bomb their oil fields and then invite Mobil and Shell to take over the operation. He stated that he’d use US troops to encircle and protect the oil companies interests. This sounds like a page torn from Hitlers book on diplomacy. He arrogantly disregarded the non aggression treaty and invaded Poland. He dehumanized the enemy to justify his unbridled aggression.

This “us against them” mentality allows the controlling minority to splinter the majority into squabbling factions. They manipulate the masses by creating friction between nationalities, races, creeds, religions and the social/monetary classes.

In the name of capitalism and short term profits the 1% shamelessly pillage and plunder the earths natural resources. Even though 97% of the science community agree that Climate Change is real, the carbon based industries continue to ignore their responsibility in this man made disaster. In the name of greed children die of starvation and disease even though there is available food and medicine. But there is no financial incentive for companies to distribute food and medicine to those in need. Pharmaceutical drugs are sold at inflated prices and remain out of the reach of sick patience while insurance companies record record profits.

There was a time in America when it was touted that if you worked hard and applied your gifts, talents and skills you would be able to earn a living wage. And, if you followed the rules and made sacrifices, you could own your own home, you could have access to health care, you could afford to send your children to college. Over the last thirty years the middle class has dramatically shrunk, and with it, the American Dream. The wealthy continue to get richer while the middle class evaporates. Who is going to stand up and fight for those who do not have a voice in our current system? “Spoiler alert”, this rhetorical question is to be addressed at the end of the article—-!!!

We are all a lot more alike than different. We all want the same things; a job that pays a living wage, a place to rest ones head and to call home, access to medical care, affordable education and training, a clean environment and a shot for the next generation to have a better life then we’ve had.

In its early implementation capitalism rewarded competition and innovation, but now that the money and power is only in a few hands, it has breed corruption and abuse of the system. Those who have money and power control the political agenda. The special interest groups and the privileged have the collateral to manipulate the system for their gain. Influence is for sell to highest bidder. And, no one knows this better than Trump and his cronies.

Trump and Hitler oversimplified the issues by blaming one segment of the population for all of our troubles. But we can no longer invade, occupy, bomb, kill, incarcerate and marginalize our problems out of existence. To solve our issues today there is a need for all of the stakeholders to have a voice in the process. This is a fundamental right that the Constitution and Bill of Rights intended to protect. But the balance of power has been compromised away from the majority and tipped in the direction of the controlling minority. Our hard won democracy has become a oligarchy. Our forefathers would shake their heads in disgust if they knew what had become of their noble experiment.

We need to move towards a system that rewards cooperation and collaboration. A system that requires those who have more to contribute more by paying their fair share of taxes. Tax loopholes for the rich and cooperate welfare needs to be exposed and eliminated. Campaign contributions need to be limited so that special interest groups and those with money and privilege are prevented from manipulating the system.

I am imploring you to stay involved in the political process and vote for those who give a voice to the working people and the middle classes. Don’t allow hate, fear and indifference to prevent you from demanding that the system serve all of its constituents.

I encourage you to take a look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as representatives who champion the needs and rights of the working and the middle class.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel