Thursday, October 3, 2019—At Starbucks yesterday, I sat next to a 60ish age white blowhard, a “Trumplikin” who exuded anger through all his pores. He started by telling me how the Dems had fixated on yet another bogus issue with which to crucify Trump. In an hour-plus rant, he regurgitated TV issues, but with the Trump camp’s slant. He raged over the wall, Kavanaugh, China’s “theft” of intellectual property, the Confederate statues, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and probably other things that I’ve forgotten. Oh. Capital punishment: kill them fast and make it hurt a little.
He is in manufacturing, has been to China twelve times. His company makes hydrophilic sponges, I think he said, such as for applying make-up. I guess the Chinese government restrains waste of chemicals, for instance, by making companies account for everything they use and taxing heavily their excesses. It was hard to get a clear picture of what he meant, but it sounded like that system works differently (and perhaps better) than the EPA. He thinks it’s fine that Chinese workers live in dormitories, work 18 hours/day, six days a week for $1/hour. It saves so much money that it’s worth it to ship the product across the world for sale. He could not understand that US employers in the US might want to hire illegals here, since that way they can also pay low wages without responsibility. The only difference is that the Chinese government allows these manufacturers to do it legally.
No one but me sees a middle ground. I wouldn’t want to be an employer in the US or China, because both exploit their citizens, but in different ways. I’m surprised at all the costs government imposes—both regulatory and actual—on employers here. The GM strike, which involves 45,000 workers, is for faster wage increases for new hires, better health care benefits, and to keep some plants open that are slated for closure. This in the face of declining sales worldwide.
Never mind that I think the industry itself is too big. “That’s capitalism,” the saying goes. In the current definition of “capitalism” the do-nothings profit from others’ toil, so I don’t blame the toilers for resenting it.
Mr. Trumplikin can rant at Starbucks, but I rant in my journal. The system itself creates people like him, so there is no reasoning with him about justice and fair play. When he claimed he has nothing against immigrants, just go through the proper channels, and I suggested even US citizens are living under bridges and in the streets, so there’s no intrinsic advantage to being a citizen, his response was something to the effect of “create jobs.” This from a man whose company moved to China to exploit labor, because they can’t do it here and churn stock on Wall Street at the same time. Oh . . . and we don’t approve of athletes who beat their wives and other women. Nor do we approve of actresses who bribe college officials to admit their children on athletic scholarships.
I contributed nothing to this monologue, except an occasional “Er . . .” or “But . . .” and allowed Mr. Trumplikin to exorcise his demons, as I monitored my internal blood pressure gauge and tried to deflect the negativity. He doesn’t like the federal government but didn’t go into specifics. He agreed with me that (other) Americans are too intolerant. He thinks video games and social media are responsible for mass shootings. He conceded the media focus encourages would-be shooters with the fantasy of instant fame. He conceded that the controversy over Trump is stimulating conversation about politics like never before, even though he thinks Trump should desist from overuse of Twitter. But Trump says what he thinks, by golly. You know where he stands.
I left wondering how to reason with people like that. He has no insight into how heavily he is influenced by the mind control exerted through television, yet he also ranted about “fake news.”
Mr. Trumplikin’s intolerance stands at the opposite pole from my brother-in-law’s intolerance, yet they together personify the “polarization” the media exacerbates by emphasizing and lamenting it. Last night, S. said he watched three hours or so of the House of Representative’s “discussion” about impeachment. S. watches Trump’s long speeches (two hours) and I should too. That way, I can pick the best candidate in elections. I said I prefer a two-minute summary, that my opinion doesn’t matter to them. They are going to do what they are going to do. My perpetual “None of the above” is never on the ballot, so it translates into my not wasting time at the voting booth. S. gives the standard response that if I don’t vote, I have no right to complain. I said I no longer complain, and I don’t. Complaining does no more good than voting.
Best to do “Process Commentary,” as my blog claims and as I was trained to do as a group therapist. The process behind the intolerance intrigues me. I relate intolerance to insecurity, the self-doubt that comes with ambivalence over beliefs.
Both Mr. Trumplikin and my brother-in-law believe in government over the people, just as many people believe in organized religion. They need that structure to feel safe, the reassurance that someone or something more powerful than the individual cares and is acting in their best interests. They presume the focus is on the “higher good,” but they are willing to overlook the fact that a different set of rules apply to the “out group,” as Joseph Campbell might claim. Exploiting Chinese workers is okay, but it’s not okay to exploit illegals in the US. They should go back to Guatemala to be exploited. It’s harder to exploit US citizens, so we leave them under bridges and take our jobs to China.
Mr. Trumplikin insisted everything comes down to money. It’s so trite, yet if everyone believes it, and the system itself is predicated on commerce, money becomes its heart and soul. This leads to my single biggest contention with the system’s claim to legitimacy.
Sounds like your Starbucks acquaintance had a few social skills deficits, like for example, give and take conversation. I find that true of a lot of Trump supporters.
I find that true of a lot of people. The art of conversation is rare, indeed, and may be becoming rarer. We have been acculturated to one-way communications, from TV, radio, reading, classrooms, pulpits, and demagogues of all descriptions. Who listens or asks questions anymore? Who can get a word in?
I make a distinction between listening to refute or argue, and listening with the intent of understanding, which suggests a more open mind and willingness to learn.
Your post raises so many questions about how to find common ground amidst our polarized politics. After reading the account of your encounter, I, too, was “left wondering how to reason with people like that.” As you’ve noted, there are so many contradictions in his position on so many issues, it boggles my mind.
Mr. Trumplikin is right about one thing: “everything comes down to money.” Creating capital or profit or wealth or money–whichever word one would prefer to use–IS the nature of our capitalist economic system. Our capitalist economic system is, indeed, “predicated on commerce,” that’s the basis for the GDP ratings of the world economic system.
MONEY IS at the heart and soul of our globalized capitalist economic system.
Yes. Isn’t it sad? I was thinking today that humanity needs an advocate Seth, of the Jane Roberts series, insists man is of good intent. That’s really hard to see these days, but I find it in dribs and drabs. Maybe that”s a reason I liked the protagonist, Richard Cheong, in your novel so much
I’m not familiar with the Jane Roberts series. There are a lot of good people in this world that we rarely hear about. How good that you liked Richard Cheong! He’s by no means perfect, but he has a good heart. The individual circumstances of our lives can wound and break us in so many ways, as occurred with the antagonist Mildred Gomes.
I would comment further but don’t want to be a spoiler for your novel, just to say it is a thought-provoking dynamic.
The conflict between Trump and the Clintons/Deep State is a conflict between factions of the ruling class most Americans are fools to get involved in. As for the US vs. China, I don’t even know if I’d make a distinction between the two at this point. Our economies are so completely interconnected. The guy in Starbucks sounds like he’s happy the authoritarian Chinese state keeps wages low and workers in their place. On the other hand, the standard of living in China has gone up over the past few decades, so their government tends to be pretty popular. They’re not living as well as Americans or Germans but they are living better than they were in the 1960s and 1970s.
True, and I’m wondering if the standard of living in the US is going down as the one in China goes up. Their decision to invest more domestically seems wise, but it’s giving the US the jitters. It’s rejecting foreign waste because it’s generating enough of its own. It’s building waste-to-energy power plants and trying to get a handle on its pollution. We could stand to learn a few things from the Chinese.
Oh you listened and then reported well. Is this the insecurity of not understanding the bigger picture. Bright to somethings but not wise to others. The double standards without realising. This could be a Mr Brexiteer, here in U.K. Are they the last of a dying race or will they kill us all? We await an election now with our own Trumpilikins.
I wonder if anyone understands the big picture, here or anywhere. The more I know, the ness I understand, so I can understand why some others just close their minds to ideas that don’t fit their frameworks. Also, those who are heavily invested in the status quo are going to resist any changes.
Perhaps the common denominator is that those with delegated power can’t get along with each other, so I have little hope that they will “lead” any of us out of darkness.
It certainly seems the politicians here in the U.K. have created a lot of disinterest in democratic process.
I’ve been wondering if regular people in both the US and UK feel disenfranchised, like audiences at a play, even though it affects them in very personal, yet too impersonal, ways. I think that may be the cause behind so much of the free-floating hostility here and elsewhere.