Saturday, November 05, 2016

Hashtag: Blame Is Lame

Every non-political blog I know has one entry that starts, "I usually don't talk about politics, but..." This is my such entry, as much as I think this blog has grown from a personal diary of sorts into something wholly other and so much more. So if this space offers some kind of bully pulpit beyond Facebook's preaching to the choir, I feel obligated to explain why this year's Presidential election is more personal and infuriating than any in my lifetime.

One of our candidates believes in our democracy and the power of its principles to affect real and positive change in America and the world. She is by no means perfect but admits her foibles and flaws and at times, yes, her poor judgment. She is also willing to acknowledge the advantages of being white, wealthy, and a government insider -- despite the disadvantages, discrimination, and double standards at work against someone with the gall to run for high office sans penis.

The other major party candidate is a petulant, ego-maniacal bully who lives to project an air of infallibility and who emphatically equates vulnerability with weakness and weakness with failure. I'll admit that beyond that sense of him, he has failed to convey any belief system to me whatsoever. Beliefs require forethought and ongoing contemplation, and he seems unwilling to take the time for either: only what happens to come off the top of his head, the tip of his tongue, and the length of his groping reach.

But he, "Speaks his mind!," claim his supporters. No, like any snake oil salesman, he says what he thinks people want to hear, avoiding the "facts" in favor of the "feels". In some ways that's a good indicator of how little he thinks of the American people -- that he believes we want to and are only capable of comprehending a world predicated on instinct: fear, paranoia, and suspicion. And that we respect blame and entitlement over responsibility or self reliance. Personally, that's not the kind of country I can get behind.

While there are so many reasons to be viscerally offended by Donald Trump, what I find most disappointing and upsetting is that my first memory of him is exactly what he'd want it to be:

Growing up in northern New Jersey, I got my local news from New York City. So in 1986 -- when I saw Trump swoop in and renovate Wollman Rink in Central Park, under budget and in a fraction of the time it'd taken the City of New York to fumble that particular ball -- he convinced me he could effortlessly do anything he said he would do: yes, he made Central Park skate again. And now, of course, he's attached his name to the achievement so no one will forget.

So I'm a little disappointed at how easily my sixteen-year-old self drank his gold-plated Kool-Aid. Interesting that while I've grown up, he's still retained the same myopic, monochromatic world view of a pubescent boy.

Not that  I'm qualified to psychoanalyze "The Donald", but I will nonetheless proffer a diagnosis of  Munchhausen by Proxy. He seems to have victim envy. Frustrated that so many people who aren't him get sympathy for their woes (middle child much?), he's spent a lifetime victimizing people in exchange for the attention it gets him.

I'm not saying he's never overcome real adversity: you can't return from bankruptcy as many times as he has without a certain level of resiliency.

However -- given my life changes of the past six years -- what infuriates me most about the man is his inability to recognize the privilege fueling his so-called success and instead goes out of his way to make excuses for his own poor choices, blaming others or conjuring conspiracy theories. Thus my attempts to dog him on Twitter with #BlameisLame. Disappointingly, I've received no response. He's got bigger fish to fry.

I think he's far off the mark if he believes that everyday people empathize with his claimed Horacio Alger tale of bootstrap-pulling with a mere million-dollar loan and the ability to overcome a bias media that actually reports what he says and takes him at his word. Don't we all hate being dogged by the paparazzi and having to fight a corrupt system by exposing its flaws through the loopholes we exploit? He's just like people!

I've recently been pondering the real or fake Buddhist quote, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." Real or not, it's helped me appreciate the choices I've made over the past six years to not live as a victim of my circumstances but rather embrace them as a chance to grow beyond who I am or ever was.

If you are still on the fence about who to vote for Tuesday, I encourage you to give Mr. Trump and his most vehement followers the same opportunity to reflect on the pain of disappointment and choose to turn it into something positive and inclusive, not to embolden any sort of movement toward  insulation, isolation, and fear.

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