John Hardin / @ 8:08 a.m. / Op-Ed

HARDIN: Trump’s New Toy


Finally, we have elected a president who has what it takes to make the United States live up to it’s full potential. Trump understands this country. He knows how it works, and he knows how to make it work for him. Now that the American people have placed it in his hands, he’ll show the world what it can do.

Every cent you paid in taxes, every vote you ever cast, every letter you ever wrote to your congressman, every dollar you donated and every ounce of enthusiasm you devoted to any political campaign here in the US, ultimately coalesced into the perfect opportunity for someone exactly like Trump. This is the US we created, and Trump is exactly the kind of guy we created it for.

Most of the world already thinks of the US as “the Evil Empire,” but apparently it takes someone like Trump to demonstrate it to us here at home. I think we should make the most of this “teachable moment” so that we all understand how we got here, because, in the eventuality that we survive this debacle, we should make sure that we never let this kind of thing ever happen again.

Today, Trump’s victory seems impossible to comprehend. It is a fact that doesn’t mesh with our world-view. I didn’t vote for Trump, and I’m not lying to you about Trump’s victory, it’s just a fact of life that seems incomprehensible at the moment. If we want to disarm Trump, or prevent the rise of future Trumps, we need to understand how and why Trump happened in the first place.

First, let’s talk about how our world-view got so far removed from reality. Very few of us live in reality anymore. Instead, we spend most of our time online, at work, or parked in front of a glowing screen of one sort or another. While reality remains full of mystery, we increasingly inhabit simplified, man-made environments like the internet, indoor spaces and modern cities. We design these simplified environments to serve us, and so they tend to reinforce our cultural habits and thought patterns.

Reality, on the other hand, constantly challenges us, it presents unexpected circumstances, curious facts, and only gets more interesting the more you look at it. Reality demands creativity, and encourages us to think. Simplified man-made environments, on the other hand, are insufferably boring by comparison, which is why we consume a torrent of man-made entertainment and decoration to fill them.

Even with a million channels, and ten trillion websites, however, the man-made environments we inhabit do not challenge our minds nearly as much as reality Over time, our minds adjust to these simplified environments, as we become familiar with, dependent on and even jaded to, the intellectual habits of our cultural architects. To us, it feels as though we understand how the world works, when in fact, we’ve simply lost touch with reality.

Simplified environments make us simple-minded. Most of us first lost touch with reality in that simplified man-made environment we call “school.” We learned about democracy in school, and somehow, they taught us the history of this nation in a way that made us proud of it, which is no small task when you think about it. They made us simple-minded in school, and they programmed us all with simple ideas about how the world works, and about what the United States is. We believed them, because they were the experts and because we were stuck in school, and eager to go home and watch television.

Pretty much everything we know about reality comes from teachers and media, and that is also true for teachers, and media people. We have become a nation of simpletons, with a paucity of ideas, and reality is entirely too much for us now. I cannot stress the importance of this factor enough. It effects the ability of American voters to comprehend their situation, and make a decision, and it effects our ability to understand the outcome of the election.

We just watched a billionaire egomaniac ascend to the presidency through a mixture of misogyny, racism and saber-rattling. That’s not supposed to happen. Democracy, and the free press were supposed to prevent that from happening. That’s what they taught us in school, anyway.

Tell me how much you believe in democracy now. Tell me how much you believe in the justice of the Supreme Court. Tell me how much you believe in the American Experiment. It doesn’t matter if this is the best form of government that humanity has yet devised. I don’t care how much you cherish the Constitution, the system has failed. We have created a monster.

Today, it seems obvious, but the system was not designed to serve us, and it never has. The system gave us genocide. The system gave us slavery. The system gave us two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The system gave us the War on Drugs. The system gave us homelessness, and the system brought us to the brink of global ecosystem collapse. We didn’t ask for those things. Those things didn’t happen while the system was busy serving us; the system used us to accomplish those important goals.

The system’s number one purpose is to serve the interests of trans-national capital. Right now, it is strongly in the interest of trans-national capital, that the US sign on to these secretly negotiated, top-secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These trade deals relinquish US sovereignty over issues that matter to the American people, like the environment, and tariffs, that can broadly effect jobs, wages and consumer prices, to shadowy multinational entities who answer to no one, but have their own laws and their own courts.

Both major parties had popular candidates who strongly resonated with the American people on this issue, and both parties treated these candidates as outsiders, and tried to sabotage their campaigns. The Democrats eventually tamed Bernie, but the Republicans could not stop Trump. The system failed. The system failed to manufacture consent. Now, a rogue has taken the reigns of the mightiest force for violence and destruction the world has ever known,because the American people have had enough of the system.

In many ways, Trump’s victory really is a victory for the American people. The people have spoken, and they have defied the system. They got behind a populist outsider candidate, and wrenched the awesome power of the United States government from the clutches of multinational capital. Unfortunately, they just handed it to an arrogant, bigoted, impulsive egomaniac whose promise to “make America great again” terrifies most of us.

The world just got more dangerous, and more unpredictable, and we are no longer intellectually equipped to handle reality. How does it feel to be a part of Donald Trump’s new toy?

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John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.


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