I made 100 copies of the handout expecting to have about half of them left over – we ran out! At 7 o’clock when we started most of the seats in Penn Hall were filled. I talked for about 50 minutes and was gratified to see people’s attention riveted. Comments afterward revealed that they too are very interested in finding ways to judge the authenticity of information that comes their way.
The Washington Post reports that President Trump has uttered a total of 4229 false or misleading statements. They observe that in the last six months he has succeeded in doubling the record-setting first year. (The Toronto Star pegs it at 2,083 as of 7/28, but Toronto is a long way from the source.)
This mendacity may be a common human frailty writ large, as is so much that The Donald does. He has long been known for a curious relationship with the truth. He gets an idea, he envisions it to be true, he declares it to be true, and he then believes that it is true even when confronted with objective facts that contradict what he “knows.”
Entrepreneurs can be very single-minded, and difficult to dissuade once they lock on to an opinion or a course of action. They usually have consummate confidence in their “feel” or intuition in the absence of complete facts. That is, I suggest, why entrepreneurs arrive first at new opportunities — it’s also why three out of four new ventures fail.
Trump isn’t likely to be accused of overthinking anything. He’s used to making big plays where the stakes are high. His dad taught him that in life and in negotiation he must never voluntarily yield or admit error. That only diminishes his leverage.
Not overthinking and not admitting mistakes is an exceedingly poor learning model. The natural process of learning is to form a vision of the needed actions, take action, observe results, update the vision, and keep on. Leave out the observation bit, and it’s easy to go way afield of reality. We are seeing that pattern in Washington.
Presidents preside over stuff. That should be obvious. The President of the US presides over vastly more than he or she can possibly personally track. The nature of the job is to choose good subordinates, delegate, be an astute observer, and manage people well — not strong talents of The Donald. The rapid turn over, the flood of critical books by ex-White House insiders, and the large-scale blunders speak for themselves. The Whitehouse under Trump is far from the agile learning organization that the country needs.
Reality is undeterred by being ignored and has a nasty way of whacking us up the side of the head if we try.
The Wall and now the administration’s treatment of undocumented people are far more energizing symbols to the Trumpist than any realistic evaluation of the underlying social problems immigrants bring. The rhetoric suggests people who don’t look like “us” (descendants of white northern European immigrants) and don’t speak our language (English) bring crime and are a social burden. But the facts say otherwise: they work, pay taxes, and abide by the law. Indeed they contribute more than they take.
So what’s the hidden problem here?
This meme taken from a Facebook post on a conservative’s newsfeed is core to the bedrock fear of Trumpists: their vision of the good life in America is being eroded. They see immigration as a threat.
When I saw this the words “… impose their culture and beliefs upon this country while at the same time destroying or removing the traditions and beliefs we call dear …” I remembered a viral email I wrote about two years ago. I think that email captures something that progressives can’t or won’t see: a cultural identity issue.
Here is the link to that 2016 pre-election essay. I think it is just as relevant now as then, and I’d only change one paragraph. I’ll let you see if you can identify what I would revise…
There is a Twitter protest (#idesofmarch, #idesoftrump) which suggests that angry citizens deluge the White House with postcards on March 15th. Julius Caesar was assassinated on that day in 44BC as we remember from Shakespeare’s play in which a soothsayer warns the emperor, “Beware the ides of March.”
This is a really bad idea for several reasons. No good purpose would be served by such an action. We already know that the 45th president has a very thin skin, and would react badly with the attendant storm of press commentary. He uses the drama of such moments to cover actions that he doesn’t want headlined, and the press obliges in the interest of keeping ratings and circulation up.
The act itself is purely rage – an act of hate and cruelty toward someone who evidently can’t help himself and may be mentally ill. “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can,” as Martin Luther King famously said. We may be furious with 45’s actions and words, but we must respond with clarity and with words and deeds that promote resolution. Our outrage must be channeled to influence our government representatives positively. They are beginning to see that the game has changed, and that the Trumpists (19% of people eligible to vote) will not suffice to reelect them if the other 80% is mad as hell and organized.
President Trump prides himself on counter punching. His instinct, when attacked, is to attack back. I know of no instance where he has paused and looked inward when confronted. In fact he wants the world to see him that way. Much to the dismay of his would-be political handlers, he strikes out on twitter and in public discourse.
He does understand leverage and power. The real leverage he respects is the 2018 election, and a congress that
balks because so many of their constituents oppose his policies.
Many of my friends are engaged in issue specific calls, visits, and letters to their elected representatives. This is how and where to strike back. Get the contact information for all of your elected representatives at this League of Women Voters site:
Sending nasty postcards to the White House will squander your time plus half a dollar’s worth of postage and postcard. Worse, in doing it we become that evil we hate. It is essentially a personal attack, a publicity stunt, … exactly the behavior we deplore in our 45th President.
Although as educated people we like to think of ourselves and others as rational — we aren’t. Most of what we say and do is only loosely informed by fact and logic. In reality, we self-construct a story about reality and then conform to it. Understanding how we do this explains our social and political behavior. Continue reading Trust the Story?→
Some people see an injustice in our tax system because they see it as stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They resent “Confiscatory” taxes — those they pay for the benefit of others that they don’t think they should be forced to subsidize. They resent public spending on welfare of all kinds: unemployment benefits, public education, parks and recreation, … it’s a long list.
Libertarians are often the most outspoken critics. And the GOP, enabled by the Trump administration, is likely to savagely gut existing programs. The American Dream is predicated on a healthy work ethic. Hard work, thrift, and personal sacrifice in the early lean years are rewarded by abundance and leisure later on. Continue reading The “Welfare” Mentality?→
Dr. Timothy Snyder is a historian; he knows whereof he speaks. Like me, he fears the political trend that brought Trump to the threshold of the Presidency riding an explosion of hate, prejudice, and denial of accepted reality. Continue reading Twenty Lessons from the Last Century→
Fear has been a major component in the 2016 political campaign and continues to be a tactic of the Trump team as they prepare for him to take office. All of us need to understand how fear can cause us to make bad choices. But we also need to learn how to combat it. What follows is an excellent video that demonstrates how fear was used as a tactic in the campaign. The remainder of this post is remarks about Fear and Faith shared by Marguerite Chandler, my spouse, at the Newtown Friends Meeting this morning. Continue reading The Power of Fear→
This week one of my conservative friends and I had an email exchange about “Trump’s Landslide” numbers. He and his peers are gloating over the geographic dominance by the GOP in the election, and the wisdom of the Electoral College devised by the founding fathers. Here’s the thread:
A couple of days ago this photo showed up on my Facebook timeline.
I’m a Navy Vet and, frankly, I’m offended by such disrespect of the US Flag. My first reaction was seething outrage at the two women. When I read the caption, it said something like “take back their welfare checks.” Continue reading Who Sent This and Why?→
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