(originally published January 21, 2017 after Trump inauguration & updated given consistent Trump ‘join or else’ messaging)
“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.”
Join or Else. If there is one common theme Trump and his merry band of corrupt amoral yahoos have espoused, this is it. Yeah. They may cloak it in some vapid superficial niceties, but, in the end, it “Join or Else.
That said. (stepping back to my words of January 2017)
Yesterday was an interestingly disturbing day to begin “the new era of The United States of America.”
I listened to the Trump inauguration speech with growing horror. It had all the trappings of authoritarianism wrapped snugly in a blanket of patriotism & promises of wealth, security, strength and ‘greatness.’
I listened to it not just as a citizen but as a business guy.
Yeah. Populism can be seen in business just as it can be seen in politics. In business it can be called ‘the cult mentality’ and more often than not its leader is a ‘less-than-benevolent’ dictator. Let’s call it a ‘join, or else’ culture. You can drive membership in this culture a couple of ways … both grounded in fear.
Fear of losing <part 1>. Outsiders are trying to steal what is ours … people who don’t believe in what we believe in are trying to steal what is ours … join us because we are the people who count and matter.
I do not want to lose what is rightfully mine.
Fear of losing <part 2>. I am on the outside looking in and … well … holy shit … if I don’t join I am gonna lose everything <or be branded as a non joiner>.
I will join because if I don’t I am up shit creek without a paddle and lose what I have.
Businesses try this shit all the time. It is their way of building a strong culture, claiming it is inclusive, albeit inclusive is grounded by ‘a tight set of club rules.’ They will argue it is not a tight set but rather a basic construct which binds people in a good way … you call it tomato and I call it rotten. This Trump version of populism is, well, it goes beyond corporate cult culture. This version is close to being batshit crazy dangerous thought leadership.
The cover of the brochure suggests an unstoppable America, driven solely by self-interest, in other words, our Club wins at all costs at the expense of anyone who stands in our way! <“if you want to win, join us” it says …>.
It further reads with threatening all those who might stand in the way of this Club and it’s winning/great objective. It contains an adamant stance of ‘no real choice’, i.e., a demanded unity not an asked for unity.
Some of the club benefits look awful good in the brochure … more & better jobs, stronger economy, stronger security, less business regulations and country pride. And then I turn over the brochure just to check out the legalese, the cost of the benefits as it were, to explore how the promises of the Club will be delivered.
The headline on the back of the brochure really wanted me to join this club … the message of “join today because today is the day the people become the rulers of this country.” I vaguely remember that being the call of the French Revolution but it sounds cool <although I could swear we, the people, have been voting in people as representatives for awhile>.
But. Whew. It sounds good. I like it.
It feels empowering and inspirational with the added comfort that I will no longer be one of “the forgotten people which will be forgotten no longer.” I know for sure that would like to not be forgotten and being part of a club would be nice and … well … gosh … uhm … now that I think about it … I didn’t know I had been forgotten.
The recruiter leans forward and says “of course you were, the intellectual globalist elite in Washington and around the world have been keeping you down … they don’t care about you … they have forgotten that it was you that made them part of the wealthy elite.”
Ok. But didn’t your Club President build his wealth off the backs of ‘forgotten people’ and … well … it seems like they aren’t any better off but he is a shitload better off, doesn’t it?
Oh … no, no, no … he appreciates everything they have done for him. Hey. And don’t you want to be wealthy too?
I look down at the brochure and I see the bolded ‘make wealthy’ words and have to ask the club recruiter, decked out in an ‘America first’ hat and neatly pressed ‘make America great’ uniform like shirt, I ask the recruiter … “this becoming wealthy thing … its sounds an awful lot like Amway.”
Oh, no, it is nothing like that at all. Our Club will make everything great for everyone and you will have great opportunities to get the wealth you have always deserved, but haven’t got, because the lazy, less than hard working elite will not get it anymore … we will make sure you get your fair share. Hey. Look at this picture of the Club President in his office … check out the gold curtains … the gold rug and the gold fixtures … that is wealth. That is what you can be part of!
And, look, if you join today you get a hat <which you should wear as often as possible so that we can tell who is in the club and who isn’t>.
And, even better, we should have some additional pieces of apparel you can wear soon. In fact … we will have special uniforms & badges for the original club members to showcase their elite status in the club … everyone will want to wear them.
Ok. One last question … your club is “God’s chosen.” I didn’t know God chose … I thought he was all about equal among all men. Does this mean that other clubs don’t believe in God or does God just favor us? And does this mean I have to believe in your version of God and … well … what exactly is your version of God?
We are a Christian based club … but of course we accept anyone. But don’t forget … Christianity, above all, outlines all the values which lead to a better version of yourself … and, well, that is what we want all Club members to be able to achieve. Everyone should have values, don’t you think?”
Whew. This is fucking crazy shit going on
To be clear. A shitload of the club leaders and followers are going to try and draw some false comparisons and equivalents to past American heroes.
To be clear. This is significantly different than Thomas Jefferson’s plea for unity in his inaugural address in 1800 — “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
The Trump club has one principle and one opinion.
The main principle?
Believe what I believe … or you are not a true believer.
That kind of seems to be the club. Kind of an “us versus them” attitude … uhm … although us <being a US citizen> is actually also them <being US citizens>.
“Oh no … no … why wouldn’t you believe in the United States of America if you lived in there? … everyone believes that. And if they don’t? … well … they should.”
Anyway. Oh. One last question. I didn’t hear it anywhere from the Club President or see it in the brochure … do you guys have a constitution?
Oh, we don’t need one. We just demand a ‘total allegiance to the Club’ … oh … which believes the same things as the country wants … so you should be all for it.”
(ME) Gosh. I am not sure I can join this club … I already have a constitution I live by … and my allegiance is, first & foremost, to that and not some Club and how they think. <period … end of statement>
Look. The one thing Trump was 100% right on is that January 20, 2017 was the dawn of a new era.
“Now comes the hour of action.”
Just to be clear.
I am a believer in God <however you want to define it>.
I am a patriot <however you want to define it>.
I am a proud American <however you want to define it>.
But I am not joining the club called “Trump America.”
In fact … I say ‘fuck you and your fucking club.’
As for what I will do? …………….
“I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
Henry David Thoreau