Conscious Aging: My Visceral Response

Fareed Zakaria’s entire GPS on Sunday morning was a retrospective on President Obama, with interviews of the President and of the people who’ve worked most closely with him in the White House. I loved it.

Barack Obama is my kind of guy: cool, dignified, fiercely intelligent, able to laugh at himself, a man with a deeply moral center, a person for whom public service remains a calling, a smart risk taker, a man unafraid to show emotion or to lead a service of national mourning in the a capella version of Amazing Grace.

As visceral as is my positive response to President Obama, I have a 180 degree opposite visceral response to Trump. I dislike everything about him: his bloated, hulking presence, his torrent of outright lies, his disdain for women, his foolishness in business, his sense that everything is for sale and that morality and decency are for losers.

That enough American voters found this appealing still stuns me.

I keep looking for something about Trump to give a sliver of hope. His latest bombasts — that computers can’t be trusted so we need to write things down and send them by courier, and that he has secret knowledge about Russian hacking that eludes the rest of us — don’t do it.

What is going to alter the way angry white America actually sees Trump?

Trump’s Republican party is fueled by racial and cultural resentment, which is a different thing from the traditional conservative emphasis on small government. Right now Paul Ryan et al have decided to turn a blind eye to the racial bigotry in order to gain their goal of drastically scaling back middle class entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. That’s where the rubber is going to hit the road: will Trump voters go along? I’m not so sure. I think they like their entitlements quite well; they just don’t want non-white American to have their share.

On January 20th the Trump reality show hits big time, with the levers of power all in Republican hands. We’ll see what the Trump supporters actually get in return for their trust and their votes.

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