A few days ago, I wrote "Plan B for humanity", an article dedicated to showing how American politics is shaped by how we raise our kids. It is loosely based on ideas that I learned from two books, The Explosive Child and Raising Human Beings, by Dr. Ross W. Greene. I offer both of those books as highly recommended reading, even if you don't have children. Why? Because both books teach us how to relate to other human beings with far better tools than we used to have.
Consider this: in popular culture we are told in dramatic prose and style that if we just use enough force, or even deploy a clever deception, we can resolve our conflicts and finally have peace. From Star Wars to Independence Day to The Shawshank Redemption, it's all about the use of force. Most dramatic stories of good and bad include the use of force to settle differences between opposing forces. I think it's difficult at best to find any story in popular culture that doesn't glorify the use of force and/or the sweetness of revenge.
At the bottom of this pop culture and the glorification of the use of force is our need to never be so vulnerable to abuse again. Most of us have been abused as children "for your own good" (PDF). When we are punished we sometimes hear our abuser tell us that "this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you". Depending on the generation, spanking is still deployed on 72-88% of children in America today. Parents and teachers impose their will upon children while dismissing their concerns to avoid "spoiling" them. So it would make sense that meeting an oppressor with an overwhelming force for "freedom" is the fantasy depicted in many of our movies and television shows. It is all about freedom from the abuser.
Donald Trump is an abuser. I knew this from the day I first saw him say, "You're fired!" on his television show, The Apprentice. Every time he says, "You're fired!", popular culture is celebrating the right of the owners of the means of production to abuse their employees, it is a reminder to ordinary workers of who has the power, it is a shameless display of a lack of interpersonal skills.
Donald Trump is also a sexual abuser. We now know about the Trump Tapes with his voice bragging about forcing his kiss on and groping women. There is also some evidence that he has taken trips with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a man convicted in state court of soliciting sex with under-aged women. During my research for this article, I was surprised to find that Epstein actually served 13 months in prison - I just didn't think that could happen to a billionaire.
Both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton have flown together to foreign lands for God knows what with Epstein. Trump denies any wrongdoing or any knowledge of the same. As Trump has said, "Epstein is a great guy". Yet, we've seen pictures of Trump and both Clintons together at Trump's wedding. We've also seen pictures of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump playing golf together. They all seem connected, don't they?
Donald Trump is also an entertainer. Numerous pundits and news accounts have identified falsehoods and misstatements by Trump during his campaign for president. His attitude suggests that he's doing everything he can to burn his campaign to the ground, without letting on that he's trying desperately to throw the election to Hillary. However, recent reports suggest that Trump is trying to turn that impression around by sticking to the teleprompter and avoiding impulsive tweets on Twitter.
In my view, Donald Trump is a very wealthy male who thinks that money is a substitute for interpersonal skills. At the time alleged, he'd already been married to at least one "beautiful woman" (his words), so why would he have any need to force a kiss on another woman and grope her, much less go to a "party" hosted by Jeffrey Epstein? He runs a global enterprise, so why would he take any joy in firing someone on TV?
In both of the books, The Explosive Child and Raising Human Beings, we learn about 3 plans. Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. In the context of parenting, Plan A is the most popular plan by demand: the imposition of adult will upon the child. Plan B is collaborative problem solving with the child. Plan C is setting aside expectations for a problem while working on other, higher priority problems.
In the context of popular culture, Plan A is the most popular. Good against bad, with both sides using force against each other, and the good side always wins - with the imposition of force upon the bad side. Pop culture glorifies the use of force because force is exciting. Even your best intellectual dramas are exciting because we see two opposed groups of people exerting mental force against each other. Often, this mental force is that of deception, strategy or misdirection, like legal or political fiction. But it is still force.
Plan B is collaborating to solve problems together. In collaboration, no force is required and people participate willingly. Unless you're watching a documentary, you won't see that quiet collaboration in the movies or on TV. That stuff is boring.
I doubt we will ever see Donald Trump using Plan B because he's an entertainer. Honestly, I have no idea how he will apply himself to the job of president with the skills he has because Plan A is what he seems to know best.
Here is something else to consider: the story of the two wolves. This story has been told many times in many ways and it looks like this:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”If we only invest our time and energy in the use of force to solve problems, then we will only know how to use force, that's Plan A. For 222 years of US history, that's what we've been doing around the world.. But if we "feed" Plan B, we learn how to negotiate, respect the concerns of others and collaborate on solutions that work for everyone. This is what politics should be like, but that's not what we're getting now.
To me, Donald Trump represents the personification of Plan A. He wants to ban the Muslims from the country, he wants to build a wall on the border, he wants to go after the terrorists. On domestic policy, he's being painted as a populist, but according to Politico, "Donald Trump is signaling that he wants to appoint his campaign finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, as Treasury secretary, according to a person close to the campaign." The finance manager for Trump's campaign is a second generation Goldman Sachs alumni who amassed $40 million from that job alone. Mnuchin's father worked at Goldman Sachs for decades. Mnuchin was roommates with Edward Lampert, the same investor who brought Sears/K-Mart to their knees by imposing his libertarian fantasy of competition upon employees working there.
Here is one more batch of evidence about Donald Trump and Plan A. For some people, Trump has made it fashionable to be racist. He has received an "endorsement" from David Duke. His father was a member of the KKK. Overt racism at Trump rallies is very well documented. Racism is the use of force to oppress other people based on their heritage. White supremacy is the ultimate conclusion of racism. Beneath all of that anger and hatred is fear. That is what Trump supporters at his rallies represent to me.
I'm more inclined to believe that Trump is an entertainer than a racist. There is a fair amount of evidence to support this idea. John Deutsch has posted this article on Huffington Post to support the idea that Trump is not racist, but he is nationalist. As an entertainer, Trump can plausibly bring out the racists in the crowd to cast the GOP as racist. I believe that Trump is the jackass turned joker on the GOP, even if he wins. He could eventually destroy or severely cripple the GOP.
If Trump is deploying a deception, then we have a candidate who is unable to come out and say what he really wants as a vision for America. In a deception, there is no collaboration, only ulterior motives that remain hidden until acted out. This is yet again, Plan A. I note with interest that many of us are being asked to vote for Hillary Clinton or we get the Trump. Isn't that extortion? That is also Plan A. Is there no alternative? Not if you ask Clinton or Trump.
I want a government that collaborates with the people for solutions that work for everyone. No games, no tricks. Is that too much to ask?