I often get a kick out of things that President Trump says. He is very blunt, direct, and to the point, often to the point of being offensive. Some of what he says he probably shouldn’t say but, personally, there’s a lot I’m glad he’s saying. I found that a lot of people feel the same way. But many people have become so offended by some of his statements that it has caused a horrible mass social hysteria that has gotten so out of control to the point of being utterly ridiculous and is a great embarrassment. It has taken on qualities similar to the witch scare or the McCarthy era. All this because people are offended! Regardless of this, many of us admire his being offensive.
Recently, I was reflecting on this and some interesting thoughts appeared:
I felt that many of us admire his blunt offensive way because it is totally different from what politicians normally do. He is not acting like a politician! That’s what’s so admirable. In this way, our admiration of his not acting like a politician reveals specific feelings toward the behavior and image of the politician. Basically, it shows that we actually feel a hidden contempt toward politicians and how they behave. An expression I’ve often said about this went something like this: “I like Trump’s blunt offensive manner . . . its not like all the other politically correct, baby kissing, smiling, proper, superficial, and phony politicians, dressed in their clean suits and ties, always saying the right thing, There’s nothing artificial about Trump. You know what he thinks”. I think that the Mr. Goodbar behavior of the politician is sickening to many of us. This makes Trumps blunt offensive manner look almost like a “breath of fresh air” in comparison.
This brings up some issues about the behavior of politicians . . .
THE PROBLEM OF THE BEHAVIOR OF POLITICIANS
Some problems of the behavior of politicians include:
- They are often phony, superficial, artificial, and are a “put-on”
- Their image is nothing but a front, a facade, to make them appear pleasing
- They are suck-ups . . . they suck-up to the people and the population
- They will do anything to get your vote
- They say that they have your best interest in mind but really don’t
- You can’t believe what they say
- They are hypocritical
- They often do illegal things
- They often take advantage of the people that they are supposed to represent
- They are manipulative
- They often misuse power
- They are just everyday people . . . there is no special meaning to them
- Their only claim to power is based in law
This is basically describing a person you can’t trust and who isn’t genuine. Over the years I’ve found that many people don’t trust politicians, and don’t particularly like them, because of qualities like these. In fact, I’ve often wondered why anyone would even want to be a politician and act like that.
This type of behavior is particularly sickening because these are the people who are supposed to represent us and run the country. In this way, the politician is taking on the role not unlike that of a parent but they are not acting like a parent. In this way, perhaps, we could say that they often have qualities like a bad stepfather: they are supposed to care for us but really don’t.
Basically, the problem is that one cannot look up to a politician . . . this breeds contempt.
THE PROBLEM OF POLITICIANS . . . THE HIDDEN CONTEMPT
In many ways, this contempt displays a problem with the role of the politician in general. This seems to be a problem with democracy. In some respects, in a democracy, the politician takes on the role of the Monarch. As a result, many of the feelings that have previously gone toward the Monarch go toward the politician. These include feelings such as: betrayal, hate, love, admiration, and even contempt. Accordingly, the contempt of the Monarch, in the previous era, has turned into a contempt of the politician in the era of democracy.
But it seems that, in a democracy, much of this contempt is repressed and hidden to the point that people aren’t really aware of it. There seems to be a number of reasons why its repressed:
- Unlike the Monarch the politician is voted into office. In this way, there is no divine right of authority and power for the politician. The fact that they are voted into office, I think, is one of the reason why the contempt tends to be repressed in a democracy. In this way, it becomes like a denial . . . we are denying that we don’t trust the politicians that we voted into office. People do mention this from time to time, in a around about casual way. This is reflected in sayings such as, “Don’t look at me . . . I didn’t vote for him”. But, overall, its a somewhat silent subject.
- Not only that, we’re told that democracy is so great. Politicians voted into office are “supposed to be” better than the Monarch and aristocrats of the former era. This makes us even more reluctant to admit our contempt even when we have found that they are no better. In short, we don’t want to admit that politicians, and democracy, is not as great as we think it is.
- In the U.S., especially, we have just gone out of WWII and the Cold War with all the patriotism these events evoked. As a result, since the politician represents the democratic process there is a reluctance to repress any bad feelings out of patriotic feelings.
As a result, we keep a lot of the bad feelings that develop toward politicians “bottled up”. In the U.S. it seems that a lot of people have kept many bad feelings “bottled up” for decades. Every so often people will express it but its usually easily forgotten or “not noticed”. With some people, though, when these “bottled up” feelings come out they erupt in a storm of emotion and rage. In short, these repressed “bottled up” feelings often come out in a multitude of ways and forms . . .
DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF CONTEMPT . . . ADMIRATION AND HATRED
Another form of expression of this contempt has appeared in the hysteria over being offended by Trumps statements which has uncovered many deep hidden repressed contempt of politicians. In this way, we see two forms of contempt of the politician which has appeared in two opposing and contrary ways, almost appearing as two different and separate things:
- People admire him because he is not acting like a politician. As I said above, some of us admire his blunt offensive way because it is not like a politician. This admiration reveals a contempt of politicians and their behavior.
- People hate him because they are insulted by him. The hysterical hate-filled reaction to his offensive statements have uncovered this contempt of politicians. Basically, the insults gave them a cause to hate him which as if brought up these deep repressed feelings of contempt which erupted in something like a storm.
In other words, the admiring and the hatred of Trump are both revealing the contempt of politicians, but in different and opposite ways. In actuality, they are the same thing . . . they are “flip sides of the same coin”.
This means, more or less, that the uncovering of this hidden contempt of politicians is a distinguishing trait of the Trump presidency. I do not believe that this is because Trump is a “bad person”, as some people claim (these are usually people who feel offended). I don’t see him as responsible for it. It seems, to me, that this shows a failing of democracy . . .
THE DILEMMA OF THE “LEADER” IN DEMOCRACY
As I said above, this contempt of politicians has appeared in many different ways. I’ve shown two example of opposite and opposing forms, which make it seem almost like separate mentalities but, in actuality, they are different versions of the same contempt. The fact that we are seeing such a range of contempt shows that we are looking at a problem of a greater political situation than the behavior of one person. In other words, it shows a failing of democracy and which has existed for decades. Basically, it shows that democracy has a dilemma with leadership . . . we need a leader but the politician just isn’t enough of a “leader”. We’re trying to make a leader out of someone who isn’t a leader nor behaves like a leader. This is the problem of the politician.
In actuality, democratic society desperately needs a leader but there isn’t any because the principles of democracy won’t allow a leader. This is because its supposed to be a “people rule” where the people are supposed to be the leader, theoretically. In this way, we need a leader but can’t find one because the principles of democracy won’t let us.
In many ways, this shows that the U.S. is in a dilemma. During the Cold War democracy was glorified and we made it out as some great thing . . . and it seemed that way. But, a quarter of a century after the Cold War ended, we are finding a fault with democracy, something seems missing. Without the Cold War there is really nothing to keep it going and relevant . . . and where did our leader go? Maybe this is a first crack in the system, a prelude to the failing of democracy as a principle? Who knows?
THOUGHTS ON THE “LEADER” THAT IS MISSING IN DEMOCRACY
A “leader” is more than a person “in charge” or that is control of things. It seems, to me, that a “leader” has qualities such as:
- They have a quality much like a parent
- They have a mystical quality about them
- They seem “beyond human”
- They reflect some belief
- They unify a specific people
In many ways, a “leader” has two qualities:
- A religious quality. This is a quality that makes them more than normal people, almost divine or sacred-like.
- A tribal quality. This is a quality that makes them intimately connected with a specific group of people.
Without these qualities a leader is just a person in charge. A “leader” has a charismatic quality that makes them “more than a leader”. In fact, a “leader” has a quality not unlike a god, making them something like a “sub-god”, in a way. This is one reason why the King is viewed as being holy and sacred and why leaders of peoples, and countries, often have many almost religious qualities and beliefs surrounding them.
From my observation, the desire for these qualities are an aspect of an innate human need and are what people want, deep down, from a “leader”. It gives the leader a unique quality and it is the source of their power.
Both of these qualities, though, are at odds with democracy and its mentality, which has these qualities:
- An anti-religious attitude. Democracy originates from the same movement that created science (the discovery of the works from Greece and Rome) which, as we know, was in opposition to religion. As a result, this same anti-religious mentality tended to pass into democracy.
- An anti-tribal or anti-people attitude. Democracy puts emphasis on the “people”, as a whole, which conflicts with the tribal element of the “leader” which emphasizes on a specific group of people.
In these ways, there is something like a tug-of-war in democracy between two opposing elements:
- The abstract intellectual idea of democracy. It should be remembered that democracy is something “thought up”. It didn’t appear naturally. This means it is an artificial creation. Because of this, it is limited and does not cater to the greater extent of human reality and need.
- Innate human need. There needs to be more of religious-like and tribal orientation than someone who is just “in charge”.
These are in conflict. In many ways, this tug-of-war is caused by the abstract intellectual idea of democracy being too limited and narrow. I always thought that this conflict may, in the end, bring democracy down.
THE NEW “PRETEND DEMOCRACY”
If one looks closely one can see that, despite how democratic people profess to be, they are continuing to think in this religious-like and tribal way. In fact, these qualities permeates the hysteria that surrounds the Trump presidency! Because of this, we see things like:
- More “mystical meaning” in things. This often appears as the fabrication of “high causes” and even fabricating threats and abuses against them and their “high cause” by imagined enemies. In other words, the “mystical meaning” often turns into false fabrications of all sorts.
- More favoring of ones people.
- More dislike of other people. For example, people seem like they are becoming more “racist”, or expressing dislike of people, than they were.
Ironically, these are usually hidden behind democratic jargon and sound democratic when you first hear them. Its not uncommon for some of the politicians to say that they are “for the people” but their main emphasis is only on their people (or sex). Its like saying, “democracy is the glorification and favoring of my people (or sex) in the name of the people”. Its like they are creating a new type of democracy. I call this the “pretend democracy”, as its only pretending to be a democracy but really isn’t. Another example of the hypocrisy of politicians.
It seems, to me, that the inner motive of the “pretend democracy” is a reaction to the tug-of-war, described above, by favoring the naturally appearing religious-like and tribal feelings. Basically, “pretend democracy” is trying to make democracy more religious and tribal and to create a “leader”. It almost looks like this is being done out of human need. But, as I said above, this is at odds with democratic principle. In that way, this point of view, that says it represents democracy, is actually undermining it.
One of the effects of the dilemma of the “leader” in democracy, and the “pretend democracy”, is the tendency to create what can be called the “pretend democratic leader”. These are people that the “pretend democracy” has deemed “worthy” of being a leader. Much of the basis of this “worthiness”, to me, seems based on mentalities coming from a number of sources:
- Christianity. A good example is that the “last should be the first” being turned into “the lesser group of people should run the country”.
- Democracy. The idea that “people rule” and there should be no leaders.
- Class struggle. The idea that some people take advantage of other people.
- Americanism. The worship of achievement, work, and success.
These blend together in many different ways and create a number of different forms of justifications of why certain people are “worthy”. Common versions of who is “worthy” include:
- If you are a female
- If you are a minority or a group that is small in proportion to the rest of the population
- If you are part of a group of people that has had some difficulty
- If you have had to work hard to go to school and, especially, if you have received a fancy degree (and a fancy school makes it even more impressive)
- If you’ve had to work hard to make some form of socially esteemed achievement
- If you have had some hardship or difficulty
- If some group has disadvantaged or caused you hardship
Overall, a common common trait of these is of a people who are disadvantaged in some way, usually as a result of someone else (real or imagined). In other words, the “pretend democracy” tends to consider being disadvantaged, in some way, a qualification of leadership! Its almost like saying, “a hard luck story makes you qualified”.
In this way, the “pretend democratic leaders” are less of a “leader” than a politician. As near as I can tell none of these “pretend democratic leaders” have really done anything much. Many get into office and spew about and favor their specific issues and concerns. In other words, “pretend democratic leaders” seem to be fixated on specific items and tend to be, as a result, very narrow in their conception of things. They will often act as if their concerns are the only concerns that matter and, in this way, become neglectful about other things.
THE “DEMOCRATIC REGENCY”
It seems, to me, that the Trump presidency, with its dilemma of leadership, is taking on qualities similar to the Regency era in English history (about the first quarter of the 1800’s). During that time, King George III had suffered from a mental illness and was incapacitated to be King. As a result, his son would become Prince Regent . . . a King without being the King. It seems, to me, that there was a lost quality during the Regency because of the lack of a King. As a result, people became materialistic, libertine, free and easy, morally questionable, ate to excess, and so on, particularly the people who could afford it. I would say it has a quality of “mom and dad’s gone away for the weekend, so lets party!” At least that was an aspect of the Regency. Its as if people seemed lost without a “leader” during this time, particularly the aristocracy and wealthy.
Its interesting that I want to say that England was “led” by a “pretend King” in a “pretend Monarchy” during the Regency. That’s what I said above with democracy. The point being that there is no real “leader” of the country . . . a person was there but they were no “leader”. In some respects, we could say that a democracy is not unlike the condition of the Regency displaying qualities such as:
- There are people “pretending” to be leaders
- People want a “leader”, deep down, but can’t find it
- There’s a sense of emptiness or something missing
- There is a sense of being somewhat lost
In England the “pretend leader” was the Prince Regent. In democracy it is the politicians. In this way, we could speak of a “democratic Regency”, so to speak.
During the Cold War there was a cause, a unity, and so on, which counter reacted the qualities of the Regency. In some respects, the U.S. was more like a Monarchy than a democracy during the Cold War, everyone united in a cause and a banner, following the principles of America (like it was King). This made it seem unRegent-like at the time. If this is the case then one could say that the irony is that the greatest time of America (post WWII, Cold War era) was when it was least like a democracy! But, since the authority of the Cold War is over, the Regency qualities of democracy are starting to surface, such as the problem of the leadership in democracy, there’s a sense of “who represents what?”, and a sense of emptiness. We seem somewhat lost. These started to come out during the Trump presidency.
That’s what it seems like to me anyways.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen