Trump as an oddly ideal American

In the olden days, feminists had a saying that the personal is the political. I think we're seeing how true this is in these dark and terrible days of violence and cruel behavior by leaders and citizens alike.

We have a president whose politics seem entirely personal. They don't come out of any reasoned understanding of the world, any education of thoughtfulness or reflection. They appear to be just what he feels like doing and saying. But in many ways, that's what our culture promotes. Our right to do and say whatever we want. We see that in spending money we don't have, using resources we can't replace, ignoring the hard work of taking care of the less fortuante. We see it in the defense of hate speech, the defense of sexual assault and endless war. It may well be the impetus for mass murder.

I'm coming to see Trump as the epitome of our consumer culture. Buy, consume, use, discard without any consideration for those around you, including all the non-humans. He is an odd kind of ideal that we have been moving towards since we began to worship at the altar of advertising, at the altar of the new and shiny.

Although independence = me first has long been with us, in the 1980s, our culture moved distinctly in the direction of Me First. It's my right to make as much money as I can. That's just capitalism. It isn't that any of this was new. It just became a more overt ideology. Grab what you can get. Other people just need to look out for themselves.

I watched through that decade as college education shifted from preparing good citizens to preparing graduates to get rich. Where clever and devious were valued and thoughtful reflection was considered unnecessary and even stupid. Where the humanities emptied out and the business departments grew fat in alignment with the "real world."

Thoughtful education is a civilizing thing: it turns us into a civilization, not a throng. We're lacking that now and paying the price.


Comments

I entirely agree, but those of us who wish to promote better education, empathy and insight are swimming upstream. What to do? Time for the alien invasion?

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