For the benefit of all, an outside the “Man Box” approach would temper self-serving ambitions in those seeking the “highest office.”
There’s really no other way to slice it. Listening to the impeachment hearings is downright depressing. While brief thrills may be had, aghast or indignant, staking out the right-ness of your side, stepping back from it all as an American these days has been plain, old flattening, for everyone I’ve talked to, at least.
I was in this flattening-effect pretty deep when I came across a wild idea that, had the framers somehow baked the Constitutional cake differently, might have helped avert this polarized, impasse. It’s wild, so bear with me — after all, wild can start to look normal in today’s climate… Continue reading “What If Presidents Were Elected in Pairs — One Democrat, One Republican?”
In the past two weeks, I’ve been unreasonably addicted to the impeachment hearings. They’ve taken over my life, dispiriting me, swallowing up precious windows of time. Driving my children home from school, as the chatter slows down and we could settle together into silence, I turn up the volume on the radio. Instead of focussing on a writing project beckoning my attention, I’m one-hand-coffee-one-hand-remote in front of the TV.
It’s big news, of course. History-making. As a citizen, I’m called to witness that history, but let’s be honest, there’s a deeper story here. My unreasonable, addictive preoccupation with the impeachment hearings belies a hope that if I watch for long enough, some ‘truth’ or ‘fact’ might magically jump off the screen to save us all. Continue reading “America, the Irrational.”
Amidst the rapidly growing pool of candidates for the democratic ticket in 2020, the relatively un-known, Pete Buttigieg, is making an un-expectedly big splash. “Mayor Pete” distinguishes himself in many ways — he’s the youngest candidate, an outside the beltway democrat from a red-state and, of course… he’s gay. People are also impressed with his grounded rhetoric — a down-home, reasoned and whip-smart common sense. Likened by more than a few to Barack Obama, Chris Cillizza writes: “Don’t look now, but (another) skinny kid with a funny name is turning heads in the presidential race.”
Like Obama, Buttigieg does have that remarkable ability to focus his sizable intelligence, (he’s a Rhodes scholar with a philosopher’s reflective interest in all-things-civic), on our complex political reality in readily, relatable ways. Also like Obama, he has that unflappable capacity to sound reassuring with every answer he offers, coming off cool no matter the curve ball.
But, I think there’s another reason why Buttigieg reassures us. Of all the candidates, he has something Obama had that’s essential to our future and yet that’s rare among men in leadership today: what I would describe as a post-patriarchal masculinity.
Continue reading “The Obama/ Buttigieg Difference: On the Appeal of a Post-Patriarchal Masculinity”
Yet again, this past week, America faced a new slew of tragic mass shootings. Yet again, American’s heads are hanging low in despair at the senseless brink of lethal absurdity our country now hinges on. Yet again, in the chilling days after these killings, communities are beset with grief and the fingers of cable news anchors and politicians come out to point to non-existent gun laws, mental illness, Trump’s rhetoric, and the hateful violence erupting on 8 Chan. And, yes, yet again, legislation around background checks surfaces as the biggest no-brainer to cross the desks of our Nation’s lawmakers, uh, ever.
But also, yet again, one of the most critical issues contributing to our nation’s sorry state fails to broach public dialogue. Beyond the righteous battle cry against hate is a much more challenging question, both because it pushes against political correctness and because it has to be asked from our hearts: How can we try to understand all this violence and hatred?
The answer many people have is racism, or the toxic cocktail of Trump + racism. They are correct, but that doesn’t get to the root of my question. I’m talking about a deeper understanding of hatred, itself. Continue reading “What We Liberals Don’t Want to Face About a Divided America”
What if it’s about mental illness, and the moral issue lies with us?
Michael Stelter, CNN’s media reporter, recently spoke out about the issue he acknowledges the press has been tip-toeing around since Trump’s election. It’s time, he suggests to directly address Trump’s mental stability. While Stelter’s reporting itself tip-toes around the issue, falling short of naming “narcissism”, it at least approaches this elephant in the room and the challenges the press has encountered in not knowing how to report on it.
Since his election, I have been writing about Trump’s narcissism and the problem in the media of approaching his lies from a moral position assuming he knows how not to lie. The press’s own inadequate understanding of narcissism has long been half of the problem; its fear of reporting about the President’s mental illness has handily made up the other half. Continue reading “What if Trump’s Behavior Isn’t a Moral Issue?”
The silver lining to Trump and America’s white-patriarchal crisis.
In his recent interview with Bill Moyers, Ben Fountain, author of Beautiful Country, Burn Again, contextualizes Trump’s ascent to power within America’s (popular) culture, clarifying the ways our current political circumstances far from rose out of a vacuum. As an immigrant to this country and a keen observer of its culture, I’ve seen this truth as self-evident since the 2016 primaries. Fountain points to the popularity of J.R. Ewing — a Trumpian, villain proto-type — a character who, in the year I emigrated from England to the US, (1977), morosely captivated what was then still a fledgling, “global” popular culture. His image was so compelling my friends joked that I would surely return one day in a ten-gallon hat. J.R. Ewing and his tough, good-guy counterpart, John Wayne, hold sway as powerful, mythic white, male archetypes — the existence of which, in today’s evolving America, have become deeply threatened to their celluloid core.
Fountain’s analysis begins to touch on the ways the Trump phenomenon is inseparable from the culture in which it was born. I remember hearing the predictions of a famous Vedic astrologer before the 2016 election that “America will get the president it deserves” — and we have. Fountain weaves connections between American popular culture, the failures of the American dream under its waking-life capitalism, and our propensity to escape, exponentially compounded today by the addictive appeal of our “devices”. Fountain is dead on here as he points to the complexity of the problems we face in this country; he makes it clear it will require much more than the time it takes for Trump to leave office to address them. (Assuming he leaves, which I still have some faith will eventually happen.)
However, there is something important missing in Fountain’s analysis — at least as it appears in this interview. American culture, its economic institutions, and this country’s values are infused at their foundation by the impact of a patriarchal worldview. As those institutions are increasingly threatened, the question is begged: What might be able to emerge on the other side? Continue reading “The Silver Lining: Trump and the Crisis of White, Patriarchy’s Archetypes”