GAF

The most admired American virtue is not giving a shit.  There is something about the brash, fearless loudmouth that we can’t get enough of.  My father (a frequent topic around here) loves to claim that, now he’s an old fart, he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do, he can say whatever he wants, and he can walk around with his fly open because he’s no longer obligated to give a shit.  

I’ll admit it.  There is something exhilarating about Donald Trump saying the unspeakable: we should have never gone to Iraq.  Our international trade agreements were made by people who would never have to live with the consequences, and the consequences are a gutted middle class.  Simply for saying these two things, these two unspeakable things, with no apparent regard for the opinion of “the establishment,” Trump has won the loyalty of a large number of Americans.  

We love the truculent.  The obstreperous.  The fearless.  The reckless.  

The horror that the coasts feel about what the world might think of us isn’t shared by a sizeable chunk of the country.  What difference does it make if the English find us crass.  Or the French think we’re unsophisticated in our understanding and our manners.  Or the Germans believe we’re undisciplined.  What does it matter to a culture that doesn’t value method, or philosophy, or decorum?  We like our guns big and our mouths bigger.  

Of course Hillary is failing.  She’s a rational choice: clearly intelligent, practiced in the halls of governance, knowledgeable about the world, pragmatic, predictable…  Exactly what Wall Street and the International community want out of an American President.  Exactly the opposite of everything America celebrates.  

We celebrate cowboys.  Rugged individualists.  We like intuition over intellect, gut over head, and all the things that the professional watchers of American politics thought were important turn out to be supremely irrelevant.  I’m not for Trump in any way shape or form, but there is a reason why Heath Ledger’s Joker casts such a long shadow: some part of us all just wants to see the motherfucker burn.  The Joker would vote for Trump.  

But there is a conflict built into the value system here.  Maybe two conflicts.  

The first is that we’re all free to buck convention because we just don’t give a shit, but no one is free from the consequences.  This is the first and most basic rule, my entry for consideration in the search for the grand theory of everything: there must be balance.  Everything costs something, every cost confers a benefit.  Matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.  If you take a big helping of glee in telling everyone to fuck off, you can be sure that no one will be there to assist you when you find isolation isn’t as glorious as you thought it would be.  As a country, we can throw a giant temper tantrum (Trumper tantrum?) and have the immense satisfaction in watching the resulting bonfire, but that satisfaction is bound to be temporary.  Sooner or later, we’ll have to come to terms with the wreckage.  Pretty fire and all, but what are you going to do with the cinders?  

The second is that we genuinely do care.  So maybe world opinion doesn’t matter too much to a healthy chunk of Americans, but we love our families, our tribes, our people.  We care about eating and being pain-free and how long we’re going to live, and who we’re going to have to bury along the way.  We worry about protection and safety and comfort.  We’re the exact opposite of fearless: we’re terrified.  Terrified that our kids will fail, scared of the disconnect we feel from our communities, afraid of the future, wary of all of the changes that are pouring in on us…  Trump isn’t a solution–inserting an unpredictable quantity with a thin skin doesn’t seem like a good methodology for improving things–but Hillary isn’t selling a viable alternative.  Even if she came baggage-free (and no one comes free of baggage), she’s still not making a compelling case for … well anything.  At least not as far as I can tell.

And for the record, I do give a shit.    

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GAF

3 thoughts on “GAF

  1. Wonderful writing and full of passion. Explosive passion that is fun to read but so far ranging that each individual point extrapolates to wrong conclusions. Your dad isn’t so narrow as described, Hillary is what you say but also a criminal who doesn’t know or give a shit about you. Trump is tapping into a national dissatisfaction with being perpetually grated at with political problems which have solutions. TOEs seen to ignore Gall’s Law and so fail. Political theories of everything seem to want to ignore or revamp building blocks of our workable constitution in violation of Gall’s Law which results tend away from reasonable or workable government. I give a shit too or say do but the machine is motion and to the power of 8’s greater than myself. It makes me feel like a cork on an ocean.

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  2. Okay, at least the first part of this response could be interpreted as snippy, but the tone is more intrigued by the way we misread each other. I never said that my dad was narrow. Indeed, I only described him as irascible, with a deep indifference as to whether or not his fly is done up in public. My respect and love for my father is unqualified. He frustrates the crap out of me, but that has nothing to do with politics. I am deeply against Trump, but that doesn’t mean that I think people who are for Trump are necessarily narrow-minded. Why should the assumption that I believe my dad is narrow follow from my loathing of Trump?

    Second, I happen to agree with you on Hillary. I only said that she is experienced, smart, pragmatic, and exactly what the powers that be would prefer because she is a known quantity. I never said that I liked her, that I voted for her, that I trusted her, that I think she gives a shit about me… Indeed, I really want to know if there is anything she cares more about than power. I suspect not. Her e-mail situation is disqualifying. So is the fact that her husband has several credible allegations of rape against him. (Trump has the same problem, having once stated that there is no such thing as raping one’s wife to answer Ivana’s charge that he raped her.) If we had a male presidential candidate with a wife who had allegedly committed armed robbery on several occasions and had settled those cases to make them go away, I would have the same issues with him. Hillary is un-electable, arrogant and out of touch at best, criminally so at worst. The DNC is unspeakably myopic if not downright corrupted. Look only to the fact that the DNC has destroyed the rules that Obama put into place to restrict lobbying money in the process.

    The Republicans have problems of equal severity, but with a slightly different nature. In short, I’m convinced that we’re screwed either way.

    Yes, Trump and Bernie are riding a wave of intense dissatisfaction about “government.” But it is worth considering where that anger comes from. Not that I defend any of it, but are we collectively angry at legitimate things? What about our complicity in electing these yahoos? What about the irrationality in wanting to pick and choose your government over-reach (don’t take my guns, but let congress police your panties)? What about our national failure to consider second- and third-order effects?

    *Someone* wants the shit that gets passed. Who are those people? What do they gain? Do they represent “the rest of us”? And if the majority of us aren’t for NAFTA or whatever, why do we have these agreements? Because we give people our votes who then do what the people who paid for them want done.

    Conservative or liberal, or anything in-between (I’d like to think of myself as a rational) if we want to fix this mess, we need to start by divorcing money from politics. Repeal citizens united, publicly fund elections, end gerrymandering, ban lobbying, make politicians write their own damn bills in plain language, modernize our voting, quit enacting shit that makes it harder for people to vote, and let the chips fall where they may. I might not get everything I want out of the outcome (straight up democracy in Egypt brought the Muslim Brotherhood into power… oops) but at least we’d be dealing with a clean, transparent democracy. Start there and *then* see what needs to be done.

    Finally, Trump doesn’t get money out of politics, by the way. He only “self funded” the primary (and he is expecting his campaign to pay him back for the loans he gave himself). Now that he’s turning to the general, he’s got people from Wall Street working the back rooms to raise $1B from all those people he talks about having bought and sold the other candidates. So in essence, he’s the same as every one of those other idiots up there, just wearing a different suit and bucking the rules of adult discourse. “He started it” is the kind of defense that only works on kindergarten playgrounds.

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  3. Here’s what I like about Donald Trump. He’s more outrageous than I am but successful at it. He’s a “can do” kind of guy, in the spirit of Ronald Reagan, but better at it. He’s essentially the last man standing. He’s telling grass roots Americans, primarily small business entrepreneurs that free market capitalism works on a small scale. Yes he was born to money and had a mentor in his father, but he made the most of opportunities and never lost touch with the common laborers he needed to build his fantastic towers.

    The biggest flaw in “Atlas Shrugged,” by the way, is that Ayn Rand’s heroes completely ignore the labor necessary to build the buildings and run the sewer lines in their “secret” genius utopia at the end of the book. You can bet those capitalistic giants did not clean their own toilets.

    So, back to Donald Trump, and why he’s becoming so educational to watch. Let’s remind each other “The house always wins.” Here we are not talking about the House of Representatives, although that is a gamble, too. No. We are talking casinos, those places where money gets laundered while native Americans are reduced to slave labor and given jobs like making plastic packaging. Donald Trump likes the ethanol mandate.

    Frankly, the insult to native tribes in reducing them to crime and filth conditions where they are now forced to live should have the entire nation screaming in outrage. Think of how pristine this continent was before the Europeans arrived with their guns and attitudes. And now the Choctaws are making single-use packaging? This is reason enough to abolish the ethanol mandate.

    If Trump wants to put Americans to work, he might look to the native Americans to start producing hand-made moccasins and other native goods that the Chinese can’t claim. BC (Before China), I could get Native American (NA) handmade sheepskin moccasins for $5 every Christmas at K-Mart. Now, the best K-Mart can offer is felt and acrylic, plastic-soled, badly fitting throwaways from China. Why are we getting our shoes from a place that traditionally bound women’s feet?

    So if The Donald wants to put Americans to work, he should hire some NAs to reproduce traditional shoes and garments instead of plastic for a domestic market. Then trade agreements would become irrelevant. Who but America can produce those? And unpatented, too.

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