I’m not famous. Or infamous. Just the son of a white working class family.
And I’m profoundly depressed after the election. We now have a sociopath for a president. The lesson learned from our bout with Dick Cheney as sociopath president did’t stick. I was worn out from the endless months of campaign ugliness that started out as a comedy show but soon became… right – a reality show. Election night was supposed to be the end of it. The media was full of ripe outrage as it framed the election as … right – a reality show starting Donald Trump. A ratings bonanza compared to what a journalistic election coverage would have reaped. But beneath all the shouting cable news panelists was a tacit understanding that Hillary would win. All the stats said so.
I laughed too at the beginning but after the first primary debate I knew Trump would likely win the nomination. Unlike other politicians who stammer and sweat while lying, Trump is a pathological narcissist who believes everything he says. His type easily fool the polygraph. Without a knowledge base to see through his crap, he’s easy to believe in a moment in our history when a lot of people are desperate for something in the earthly realm to believe in.
Trump is a true entertainer, a virtuoso of improvised lying. Even the Trump critic who knows his MO is locked on the screen every night because every utterance is like a Coltrane solo of disinformation; flying so far off the theme we wonder how he’ll ever zoom back in key for the final chorus. And we’re in awe when he inevitably does. Great TV. I couldn’t get enough though I was getting bloated and stressed.
There are real people out there who didn’t get the entertainment meme. To them he’s the real thing. Desperate and humiliated; speed bumped by the curve of history, they’re played by politicians and TV preachers. Their promised castle on the hill has a foreclosure sign on the lawn. And for many, the culturally ingrained assumption that as much of a loser a white guy thinks he is – there’s a whole race and gender of people out there even lower on the food chain. Now that last ditch status pill is gone, thanks to liberals and their everyone is created equal crap.
Like my parents, they lacked education and a cultural environment that can feed every curiosity and prepare someone to accept – to enjoy – change. And they go tribal when faced with new challenging ideas and faces. That I avoided that trap is less about my special character and more about the good fortune of growing up in a particular place and time that nurtured my intellectual curiosity before it got buried in the daily sludge of laboring to raise a family. And all the fantasies about my Guild 12-string guitar seeding a glorious future made a career track irrelevant. That removed a big responsibility load. A spoiled brat I remain.
I find the worldview of Trump supporters disgusting and pathetic. I’ve taken medicinal joy in giving my biases some play time but it didn’t last. I guess I can take some pride in that. But as far away as I grew from my parents’ world, I’m still a working class guy in my bones for better and worse. Along with the revulsion I’m feeling, I also empathize. I still have sharp focus memories of a worn out dad throwing away six of his seven days a week on a job that meant nothing to him. And a mom with endless energy stuck at home cleaning up offspring messes and locked into obsessive housecleaning loops, probably for lack of inclination toward booze and drugs. And the cultural demand at that time that women belong in the home. I discovered only in her last years that she had a deep creative instinct that lay dormant to the end. I’d always assumed that I was adopted.
That working class bone marrow remains despite a lot of years of embarrassed denial and condescension toward my parents. I’m sure they noticed. Now I’m glad that marrow is still lodged in these bones. There are parts of Trump’s shtick that reaches my gut even while my brain blows it off as the predatory con that it is.
If our side doesn’t grow an empathy gene real quick, we’re in for a truly ugly era.
— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, November 9, 2016
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