Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to take place to prevent the extinction of most of the life on earth, including human beings. Stepping outside this narrow debate enables me to take a more objective stance when watching the circus that stands for presidential elections in America these days.
Self-identified liberals around the country have been in a state of shock and disbelief over the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.
“Oh my God! Did you see what he said? How could he actually be running for president?”
The problem is that the latter question is often a rhetorical one. Very little effort, if any, is spent trying to understand how such a !@$#%^& actually won the Republican nomination. But the truth is there is something rotten at the core of America, and Donald Trump is unknowingly trying to force us to look at it. Donald Trump is the mirror that we don’t want to look into.
Could Donald Trump be the mirror we don't want to look into?
Yes, there is a little piece of Donald Trump within all of us. It is the part of ourselves that we loathe and, therefore, want to rebuke and distance ourselves from. Many want to hide behind a new language of political correctness. We don’t want to understand how Donald Trump rose to such heights because the reason for it scares us. What scares us most is how much we actually share in common with the man.
Donald Trump is a product of a predatory capitalist system gone horribly wrong. Yes, Donald Trump is misogynistic, but look at the way business of all kinds use half-naked woman to sell products and services. Yes, Donald Trump doesn’t care about anything but American interests, but neither does any American who condones the government spending trillions of dollars exporting war and chaos on to the rest of the world. Yes, Donald Trump doesn’t care about climate change, but neither does our economic system that only allows people to meet their needs through unsustainable products like factory farmed meat and Walmart. Yes, Donald Trump is an egomaniac that only cares about himself, but so is any American who believes in the idea of American exceptionalism, that Americans are somehow more special than the rest of the world.
I’m not trying to insult anyone or blame anyone for being this way. The truth is to function well in this predatory capitalist system gone horribly wrong, one must develop, or at the very least tolerate, many of these views. Do you call out every misogynistic comment in the workplace? Calling out your boss for his misogynistic comments may cost you your job. “Do you make the attempt to understand the needs and concerns of our so-called “enemies?” Probably not because doing so might have others label you a “terrorist sympathizer.” Are you making the necessary lifestyle changes and/or sacrifices required to reduce your carbon footprint, passing on that Hawaiian vacation to avoid the carbon emissions? It is one thing to believe in climate change and quite another to actually find out what you can do about it.
Donald Trump is not an isolated case for the values we despise.
But it really isn’t our fault. This predatory capitalist system gone horribly wrong requires its participants to some degree to act predatory, or at least enforce inhumane practices. Imagine you work at a sandwich shop. You sell hundreds of sandwiches every day and then one homeless and hungry man walks into the shop and asks if there is anyway you can make him a sandwich even though he has no money. Here you are standing in a store surrounded by an abundance of sandwiches, so much abundance that every week you have to throw out a portion of the unsold food, and you have a high probability of losing your job if you gave the hungry man a sandwich.
It feels unnatural at every level of our being to deny access to food to someone in need of it, or deny access to medicine to those unable to pay for it, essentially telling people that you don’t deserve to live unless you are able to play a role in our economy focusing almost entirely on selling product. Anyone working at the intersection of Capitalism Road and People Avenue have to face this feeling daily. Some of us grow thick skin and create narratives that justify this systemic denial of physical and emotional needs, while others must find some other kind of coping mechanism, which can easily turn into an addiction to alcohol, drugs, shopping, or anything else that can get our minds off of this feeling.
Do you ever feel like what your mind is telling you to do and what you heart is telling you to do is ripping you apart at the seems?
Donald Trump is a mirror of these values, reflecting back to us the extreme version of this predatory capitalist system gone horribly wrong, providing us with an opportunity to look deep within the roots of it. But if Donald Trump is the mirror we don’t want to look into, then Hillary Clinton offers us the mask we put on to avoid seeing our reflection. She tells us that we are already great, repeating tired old mantras of American exceptionalism that help the majority of people to feel more powerful and overlook the daily atrocities committed both at home and overseas in our name.
Clinton tells us there is no need to look into that mirror, that there is nothing wrong with our economic system and the problem is a result of bad characters like Donald Trump. Nothing could be further from the truth. For decades now, American politics have operated in a realm of its own with a completely different set of logic and procedures than the rest of the world. That’s because a predatory capitalist system gone horribly wrong requires a different set of logic to maintain it. Common sense actions, such as using the precautionary principle in both the public and private sectors, are disregarded as politically infeasible because they challenge the money interests of a capitalist class. This class of billionaires have gotten extraordinarily proficient at using their wealth to compromise government to maintain their control and unrivaled access to everything the world has to offer. Agricultural subsidy practices, militarization, spying on citizens, imprisoning non-violent crimes like drug use, arming rebel groups, supporting oppressive regimes: all of these actions defy common sense if our goal is to promote peace and prosperity as Clinton’s narrative tells us but are deemed not only necessary, but logical in the realm of American politics.
Hillary Clinton enables people to live in the fantasy that America is a force for peace in the world.
More than ever, both liberals and conservatives know that their government has been bought by corporations and the elite who have essentially legalized corruption and rigged the entire economy to favor a small minority. The people are beginning to wake up to the increasing gap between what politicians say they will support and what they actually do support. As Hillary Clinton said in a recently released WikiLeaks e-mail, “You need to have a public position and a private position on every issue,” essentially saying that she wears one mask when she speaks to the people and a different mask when she talks to the business interests that fund her campaign. Let the truth be damned.
Americans want to think they are the good guys. But are we? We like this feel good narrative. But if we really looked at what role we play in the world, are we more like Luke Skywalker and the rebels or Darth Vader and the evil empire? For the longest time, American political leaders have been telling us that “we are the good guys,” that “we stand for promoting freedom and democracy around the world,” that “we stand up against injustice.” But the values of predatory capitalist system gone horribly wrong are the antithesis of these ideals and Donald Trump is doing us all a favor by showing us our own reflection. If we resist the desire to put on that mask and instead allow ourselves to look in the mirror and see our economic system as what it really is – a planetary death star hellbent on converting all of the natural world into a gigantic pile of money – perhaps we have a small chance to realign our values with our actions and create a new kind of economics that allows all beings in the world a chance for peace and prosperity.
Is the sun setting on speaking the truth?