Donald Trump… I won’t lie. The very name makes me cringe. I have this dream in which I’m a bit more than a poor thirty-something. Donald Trump is sitting across from me at a desk. The scene is familiar. I begin to speak to him…
“I don’t like your jerk-off face,” I tell him, per The Big Lebowski. Of course, he retains his smugness throughout my speech up until I end with, “And I don’t like you, jerk-off.”
But here he does something different. He doesn’t use Lebowski’s line. Instead he says, “Excuse me, but who the hell are you?”
And then, glory. My coffee mug connects with his forehead and—
Wait. I’m fantasizing about being a cop? That name, though. That face. That smugness. Allow me to channel my inner strength to regain some self-control. It seems he’s gotten the best of me…
How did all these oddballs become so popular? What happened? Where exactly did the Kool-Aid come from? Everything from flat earth theory to national socialism has found its way into a fairly mainstream discourse.
I think I get it. We’re sick, perhaps rightfully so. We want the realization of that oft-promised, but never delivered, meat carved from the trigger word: change. We want someone who will promise and deliver. Hence, the rise of the likes of Trump, Sanders, Cruz, et al.
But what if, all along, the problem has been us? What happened to, “We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for“? Is it possible that democracy—whatever form it may be, republican, parliamentarian–has served its purpose, a people educated and empowered to become the change they want to see? Is the whole purpose of democracy simply that we have the ability to choose our own kings, only to whine and moan when our own king is out-chosen?
It seems that’s what its become. We’ve become fat, lazy, bloated, strung out on a system that’s run its course. Now it’s up to us. We can keep the democracy, but let’s stop blaming the politicians, the bankers, the CEOs, the lobbyists… We can be the change. Perhaps the fundamental purpose of democracy was to serve as a launching pad into deeper realms of liberty.
In this time of craziness run mainstream, maybe some valuable old voices can find their place too. Emma Goldman. Alexander Berkmans. Voltairine de Cleyre. Peter Kropotkin. These were voices who put the responsibility upon us. Sure, they accused governments and economic institutions, but the solutions they advocated required us and us only.
We have the power to live differently. We have the power to create our way. Right-wing, government hating Christians should be able to appreciate this; even left-wing socialistic Christians. Right-wing free marketeers should be able to appreciate this; even left-wing mutual-aiders. It’s something we all pine for: self- governance.
The problem? We fear. We fear the other, so we feel we need to control them. We fear them because we don’t know them. How many Muslim-bashers have genuine, meaningful relationships with Muslims? How many Islamic terrorists have genuine, meaningful relationships with those they are about to blow up? The same questions apply to all the hot-button issues flooding the airwaves. The sides we take so quickly and easily betray our ignorance.
In this time of such rabid division in America—division that could be bordering on civil war—this seems to be our greatest necessity: community. Without it, all other issues are meaningless.
Emma, from the grave, reaches out to her hand to her long-time love. “Sasha,” she says, “they’re in need of a reminder.” The dry bones begin to rustle.
Can you feel the Berk?