Growing up as a white male in America.
Let’s start here: I grew up as a white male in a middle class family in Scottsdale, Arizona – a historically Republican state.
My early political leanings were to the right. I’ve never completely identified with one political extreme or the other, but I did develop somewhat conservative beliefs during my youth and young adulthood.
One thing I still believe in, for example, is the value of hard work.
If you work hard for something – if you earn it – then I feel you should be allowed to keep it. It pains me to this day when I see lazy people take advantage of others’ hard work. As my 12-year old self might exclaim, “That’s not fair!”
Yet with each passing year, I’ve been forced to question political conservatism with increasing scrutiny. What has caused me to question my current and past beliefs more than anything else? Donald Trump.
Observation and analysis of Donald Trump’s behavior during his presidential campaign.
Based on what I’ve seen from Donald Trump, he is a sociopath who views life as a zero-sum game. He clearly has no empathy for other human beings. And his concerns are clearly for individual wealth, power, and control of financial resources and people.
The only way he could get me to believe anything different is to provide me with a psychologist-certified copy of his Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) showing otherwise. And even then I would be suspicious that he paid someone off to doctor his results.
[For those of you who don’t know, the MMPI-2 is one of the most accurate psychological profiling instruments that has ever been developed. It is so highly-acclaimed that U.S. courts will accept it as a form of evidence during trial.]
Is Donald Trump really the best the Republican party has to offer?
We all know – or have at least heard – that Donald Trump is currently leading the polls for the Republican party. And presumably this is because of his apparent financial and business success, straight-talking attitude, and his promise to “Make America Great” once again.
But what kind of person is Donald Trump?
But according to Trump, “I don’t mock people that have problems, believe me.”
Sure thing, Mr. Trump – despite your public display of mockery, I’ll just take your word for it. I’ll “believe you” because you said so.
In all honesty, even someone as callous as Donald Trump should be smart enough to conceal such displays of bigotry. But apparently he isn’t, which is why I think he’s a f****** idiot.
Trump was smart enough to take over his father’s real estate portfolio and get into a presidential race, yet too stupid to understand the most basic of social norms (which is another sign of sociopathy, by the way).
Leaders must understand social norms and sincerely care for the people they represent.
Anyone considering electing a leader for their group – whether it’s a small business or a large country – should be careful to choose someone who:
- Has good communication and people skills – for purposes of striking agreements and working diplomatically with both internal and external groups.
- Demonstrates empathy, love, and compassion for other people.
- Works to understand the needs of their group and fulfill them.
- Is emotionally intelligent and intellectually capable.
- Has a high level of personal accountability.
- Takes a conscientious and thorough approach to their work.
- Is driven by a desire to make the world a better place.
- Strives for win-win outcomes wherever possible.
- Has the right intentions even if there is disagreement over the methods used to achieve a particular outcome.
One might argue that Trump does care about America and legitimately wants to protect us from terrorists and criminals (or as Republican hopeful Ben Carson puts it, “rabid dogs”).
But isn’t it is a prerequisite for any leader to want to protect his/her people? For this I don’t believe Trump should receive any extra credit. It’s a box every presidential hopeful needs to check off as the next potential Commander in Chief.
And even then, we must carefully evaluate presidential candidates’ proposed strategies for “Saving American Lives.”
Importantly, we must consider the approach taken (or proposed to be taken) in carrying out national defense strategy. It’s one thing to take decisive action when an imminent attack is underway; it’s quite another to turn away desperate refugees or build huge border walls because some of them “might” pose a danger to our country.
Frankly, there is plenty of danger right here at home already.
Moreover, it’s not like we’re packed to the brim with refugees, struggling to put food on the table for average Americans. No, it’s quite the opposite.
While refugees like Heba struggle to escape violence and sexism in their home countries, meanwhile here in the states most of us are kicking back with a big fat Turkey for Thanksgiving, drinking ample quantities of wine and beer, and trifling over such matters as what color paint will best match the new carpet in our living room.
Well, isn’t life just tough in America.
Dare I say it, but I fully understand how America has come to receive its poor reputation in many places around the world.
As we continue to step on one another in a perpetual rat race – with our desire to climb to the peaks of financial success and status – there are others who struggle to put food on the table, secure basic civil rights, and escape terrifying violence and persecution on a daily basis.
Sadly, America just may be a real-life rendition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, even despite our lack of association with communism.
The real message of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
The deepest message of Animal Farm is not, as one may initially think, an exclusive critique of communism. Rather, it is to show what happens when human beings are corrupted by power, money, and self-importance.
Moreover, in Orwell’s own words:
“I meant the moral to be that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and know how to chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job.”
In the book, Napoleon’s and his regime (Napoleon is a dictatorial leader of the other pigs around which Orwell’s criticism is focused) continue to obsess over wealth, power, and egotism while the workers under them suffer. But of course, Napoleon & Co. hold themselves out as helping the workers under them, and by proclaiming themselves necessary to their survival.
As one Amazon reviewer puts it:
“What seems to be paradise quickly transforms into another form of slavery altogether enforced by propaganda and threats from the pigs. And yet, the animals do not know any better, as they are deceived by the new system that gives them the illusion that they are better off than they were with Mr. Jones calling the shots.”
So, what’s the point? If we as Americans continue to obsess over superiority and profit over all else, turning a blind eye to those who are suffering around us, we will continue to be held in contempt by outside observers who realize we are selfish and insatiable, just like Napoleon and his regime.
Furthermore, if we’re not careful, we might put a Napoleon into power right here in our very own country – people who may claim to have our best interests in mind, but who do not actually care for our well being – and who make all of us worse off in the long run.
But didn’t we earn our privileged life here in America?
This is a tough question. In some ways, sure – Americans have worked hard to achieve the wealth, safety, and security that our country provides. And like I said at the start of this article, I do believe people should be allowed to earn their keep.
But there is another perspective.
Consider that any one of us could have been born anywhere in world, into any set of circumstances. We could have been born with a disease that ended our life prematurely, born a member of the opposite sex, born into a different religion with different parents, or born in a place with lesser opportunity.
Life really isn’t fair – we all start out with different circumstances, and we didn’t get to choose them beforehand. Much like a game of poker, we’re all dealt different cards – but unlike poker, there is no next hand. This one life is all we’ve got and we’re stuck with the cards we’ve been dealt. All we can do from there is play our hand the best we know how.
Interestingly, even things like intelligence and effort are random. Some of us are born with higher capacities for critical reasoning, learning, and analysis than others. Some of us have naturally high IQ’s while others have lower IQ’s.
[In fact, as author Martha Stout points out in her book The Sociopath Next Door, research appears to show that even sociopathy is 30-50% genetic – meaning we may not even be able to completely justify our anger towards those without a conscience. Some of us may simply be born with one, while others are born without (scarily, she estimates 1/25 people is a sociopath in America) – and is that their fault?]
Given such a random distribution of talent and circumstance, we might view the “I earned this” argument with increasing skepticism.
The “I earned this” argument is flawed, because it hinges on a critical assumption: the assumption that we all have an equal capacity for success and achievement. But we don’t – because some of us were born much luckier than others in that regard. We all came into this world in a different way.
Most Americans are basically lucky when compared to their counterparts around the world.
Realize, we as Americans tend to fall into the “lucky” group more often than the “burdened” group. This leads me to a few important questions:
- For those of us who are more privileged, don’t we want to help our fellow man?
- In recognizing our relative luck and the comparative burden of other people, does our conscience not move us into action to do the right thing – seeking to assist our neighbors and build a collaborative society together, one where everyone has a chance for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
- Aren’t life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness the ideals America was founded on, and which we should attempt to preserve and promote – for all people?
Human rights and civil liberties may not exist everywhere in the world today (like they do in America) but they should – and if we recognize them for ourselves, we should recognize them for other people.
After all, isn’t the whole idea behind inalienable human rights that life itself is sacred – and that everybody deserves an equal shot at life?
Bringing this tangent back into context, I do not believe Donald Trump believes that life is sacred nor that everybody deserves an equal chance. Rather, I think he believes in superiority and entitlement – thereby completely missing the point of what human leadership is all about.
The future of America and the world at large.
Sometimes a person like Donald Trump will contend that it’s mere evolution for humankind to be competitive and to strive for survival – that it comes down to us vs. them, a situation where we have no choice but to kill or be killed.
To some extent, I can see this logic, and it was probably even more true in the past – in the hundreds of years leading up to the present, when the world was still flat and everything seemed like a threat to one’s safety.
But in our day and age, with our current levels of sophistication, knowledge, technology, and inter-connectedness, can we not progress beyond such a shallow view of the world?
After all, a chief reason humans have survived this long to begin with is because of our ability to collaborate – to work together towards mutually beneficial outcomes.
And at this point, if we as a species wish to continue surviving for many generations to come, we need to be thinking in terms of collaboration – not in terms of competition.
Fortunately there are tools like the internet and social media to bring us together. But even with those advantages, long-term survival will require a cohesive effort. It will require a clear intention to work together towards a common goal.
For example, we need to do things like make sure our planet remains capable of supporting life – that our ozone, environment, and food supply are not accidentally damaged in a permanent way that would reduce our capacity for survival – especially as the population continues to grow.
We need to work on improving our communication with one another, making it more productive and efficient, so that we may speed up collaboration and reach greater goals together as a group.
One day, we may need to get serious about colonizing space, which probably sounds a little ridiculous now, but could become necessary if an imminent threat to our planet forces us to go elsewhere (well, unless that’s just not the point of existence. Check out Cosmos if you want to give yourself a bit of a scare…).
The point is, the leaders we elect to office around the globe – in local elections as well as major ones – ought to have an agenda that is focused towards long-term survival, collaboration, and advancement.
We may not ever know the true meaning or purpose of life, but in the limited time we’re here on this earth, we can at least do our best to work towards a worthy goal together. We can strive to help other people who are less fortunate. We can take action in brave and courageous ways to make real progress for humankind.
Please do not vote for Donald Trump.
In my humble opinion, I do not believe Donald Trump is on the same page. It would seem to me that his basic agenda is self-aggrandizement at the expense of others. For this reason, I urge you to not vote for him in the upcoming presidential primaries. You might consider asking others to not vote for him as well.
Donald Trump is a man I’m sure we could all learn something valuable from, and he deserves just as much forgiveness as we all do for his misgivings. But there’s also no need to put someone like him in office when there are so many better options.