I won’t try to convince you that this is not a political post. In some ways, it is.
In fact, it’s a desperate political post.
Not desperate in the sense that I’m beside myself with fear that The Donald will become The Commander in Chief. Desperate in the sense that I have found no way to penetrate the aura of his appeal. I find it inexcusable that even one American would vote for him.
Being who I am, I don’t expect to convert one person away from Trump. I am the America that Trump speaks of when he says that we are weak, that we are soft, that we are losers and whiners and overly tolerant of the negative forces that threaten to consume us.
Put another way: I’m a rational, thoughtful person who doesn’t view everything unlike me as suspect and who doesn’t regard everything that doesn’t turn a profit or gain notoriety as a failure. Our nation, and the world, is varied and complex and nuanced. Any attempt to embrace or explain that complexity is not obfuscation; gross oversimplification, for sure, is the most facile and lazy form of obfuscation that exists. It’s the tool of petty tyrants.
And no one is more petty than Donald Trump.
And that sort of brings me back to the subject of this non-political political post. You, either as a Trump supporter or devil’s advocate, may argue that I don’t know Donald Trump and can’t judge him as a person.
Oh, but I do. And I can. And I am.
There’s nothing more frustrating and inhibiting for an introspective person like me than people like him. And I have spent 43 years dealing extensively with people like him.
There was my high school history teacher, who apparently believed that stilted, didactic, precise speech was a substitute for substantive knowledge. Our first class quiz demonstrated that she didn’t understand the principles of latitude and longitude, and she stilted and didacted me into acquiescence with her faulty understanding.
More shockingly, there was the doctor of history (I am not bothering to capitalize), teaching at one of the pre-eminent institutions of higher learning in the nation, who recited to us, his class, in one of his unfocused, rambling lectures, that the initials “A.D.” were an abbreviation for After Death. I almost died.
There was a succession of managers at the ice cream shop, and then at the mailroom, and then at the restaurant where I worked as a younger adult. All of them had the key to success, the quick answers to any number of problems. At first I marveled at their expertise. It took a few months’ experience on the job to expose the song-and-dance each of them were putting on. This was particularly entertaining at the ice cream shop, where I worked for seven years. I knew that job so thoroughly that my BS detector was impeccable.
Now I’m in the corporate world, dealing with professionals who can boast credentials as long as your arm. Finally, I feel like I’m dealing with some genuinely competent people on a somewhat regular basis. But I still have a number of facepalm moments each week. And my company has missed out on some terrific insights while listening to any number of loud, energetic (not to mention expensive) consultants and executives and ignoring, overlooking, or flat-out contradicting me.
Then there was my father, who despite his many wonderful qualities, was an authoritarian bully whose ultimate goal was to prove that he was right and to get a rise out of everyone else. Sound familiar?
(Disclaimer: before you become too aghast at my dishonoring my father’s memory, he was actually a very intelligent and loving man behind all of his bluster. In fact, the dangerous part of his rhetoric was that he actually knew what he was talking about–at least enough to cogently argue his point. So, yeah, not really so much like Trump.)
See? I’m talking about my daddy issues now. I told you this wasn’t really a political post.
And now for the really personal part. All of these blowhards, bullies, and big-talkers have played a large role in stunting my personal growth.
Of course, I must take responsibility for all of my decisions. And I do. The way I’ve lived my life, I believe, reflects that much better than this whiny essay.
Bear with me. I’m whining with purpose.
The tricky part of figuring all this out, especially when you’re younger, is that you must learn from those around you with more experience and knowledge. Trump, to me, represents an especially blatant example of those who prey on that authority vacuum and suck up all kinds of suckers.
As a child and young adult, I had no choice but to endure a regular parade of false teachers, because I just didn’t have the judgement to separate them from the real ones. As a naturally shy, quiet person, it was easy for them (and still is, sometimes) to run roughshod over me. I resent that.
Because of this parade of Trumps throughout my life, I have struggled with self-doubt and insecurity. I have often had to stop myself and wonder if I was delusional or out of touch with reality, because my conclusions differed so sharply from these folks who seemed so confident. And successful. And forceful. And loud.
I don’t want Trump to stunt America’s potential in the same way that the parade of Trumps in my life have threatened to stunt mine.