‘Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our time, offered his opinion on Donald Trump the other day. He called the Donald “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator,” and said he had no explanation on why the man is so popular.’
Donald Trump is a privileged man. He belongs to a group of Americans whose undisputed authority is waning, and he’s not happy about it. Realizing that many people share his angst, he has decided to rally disgruntled insecure Americans to his cause, many of whom are white, promising them he will make them great again. He is risking everything in a mad gamble to mobilize those with the greatest collective wealth, influence and power, before they are rendered second best, and less influential. He is turning America into an arena of us and them, or, to be more accurate, he is doubling down on it, because America has always been an arena of us and them.
It all started with the expeditionaries and pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic in search of a new world. They landed on the continent, making new homes, then ventured into the Frontier, followed by the pioneers and companies and armies at large who slaughtered and displaced all the Native Americans, and the white slavers who put Africa to work.
Then the slaves rose up and denounced their oppressors, defeating them on the streets and in the courtrooms, seizing the imagination of a new generation of America and turning a new page in the book of the young firebrand nation. And the USA became a little saner and more just, but it never really came together. It remained a fractured entity. Those who rose up retained their cultural identity, perpetuating the racial divisions, and the dethroned overlords certainly retained theirs. The fight goes on, and it has expanded, with more groups joining the mix across a number of spectra: ethnic, religious, social, political, economic, gender, all kinds of ideologies and interests fighting to secure the top seat (Game Of Thrones, anyone?) looking to be number one across a variety of elements — population numbers, states carried, governorships, seats in the House of Representatives, Supreme Justices, language spoken across the land, money earned, you name it, there’s a great battle over it, everyone looking to clinch first place. It’s called democracy, and in democracy there is always a majority and a minority, and the minority is always prone to being frustrated, and no one wants to be frustrated. No one wants to end up as a minority, so they fight tooth and nail to stay on top, sometimes getting carried away and acting just as their rivals do, repeating the errors of those they are fighting against. Breaking the law, or twisting it to their own advantage. Committing heinous acts in the process.
The fact is that white, privileged America is defined and driven by downward momentum, a direction that gives them cause for concern, filling them with anxiety and anger, and Donald Trump is fueling their emotions to rally as many people as he can to a cause that will prevent them from ending up as a minority.
The fact of the matter is that if we want to check the ugly side of Trump’s movement, we have to view it in terms of minority politics.
If you just rolled your eyes and scoffed, take pause and think about it again. A spherical point of view is vital to understanding what is taking place. Anxiety is anxiety, and the informed, reasonable way to assess Trump’s success is to acknowledge the mobilizing effect his words have on people. Political labels are one thing, useful in making sense of things on the surface, but to deal with an issue, any issue (as many of Trump’s opponents keep shouting at Trump’s supporters) one has to examine the issues at their core, steering clear of easy, bombastic statements. One must be thorough, mindful and discerning.
It’s easy to call Trump a fascist and his supporters the scum of the earth, but the more interesting and compelling approach is to understand the mechanisms that drive them. Minority politics and a minority frame of mind are major factors, the blood that sustains the raging Trump body, its anger and discontent. Examining what exactly makes it feel threatened will shed light on how to best deal with it. And it’s not just racism. That’s just a easy, lazy blanket statement that is causes more problems. Right out of the Trump manual.
Still not getting it? Then you’re probably part of the problem. We are where we are, in an imbalanced situation brought on by partisans on both sides, by those who favor name-calling and knee-jerk reactions and a roll of their eyes and a wave of their hands that dismisses anything that doesn’t immediately and automatically fit their worldview. People who do this are not constructive. They degenerate the formula, pushing and shoving and judging everyone without a greater understanding of how things work. Ever righteous in their cause, and partial to a fault, they’re not restricted to the far-right. They’re everywhere, doing damage across the board, eating away at the foundation of a mindful, informed society.
If you are one of them, I’m not addressing you. Partisans with a partial and limited point of view don’t interest me. My appeal is to those willing to view life through a greater lens, who approach culture as a dynamic entity, aware that today’s politics (and politics in general) are not about privilege alone, but about momentum, about striking the right balances between players, all players, and acknowledging that everyone is liable to get scared and angry. Fail to grasp that basic concept and you end up with a party hijacked by fear and loathing, driven by a master manipulator feeding on righteousness and rage. Another fight on your hands. The Trump movement. You can either approach it like its supporters would, screaming bloody murder, or you can understand what drives it before taking it on. Know its buttons, and how to push them, and how to disarm its entire setup, or manage it in a way that smoothes out the edges, steering the conversation back into a constructive field.
Or end up fighting the same old wars. New faces, same old arguments, over and over and over again, going round in circles i.e. nowhere, if not backwards i.e. down the proverbial drain.
It’s that simple, and that predictable. It’s not physics, but it’s pretty damn close.
From your annoyingly panoramic Spin Doctor,
Eyes open, mind sharp.