With Authority Comes Responsibility; and, The Tomorrowland Solution
The I-Know-Better-Than-Everyone-in-Chief is taking hydroxychloroquine, allegedly preventatively, since his exposure to two White House staffers who tested positive for coronavirus. His personal physician says they weighed the “potential benefits and relative risks,” and the president decided, “What do I have to lose?”
Even I know the answer to that question. The natural rhythm of your own heartbeat, Idjit. You don’t have to have heart disease for this to happen. Doctors all over the world are issuing caveats left and right, and wringing their hands over his lamentable example.
But Mr. Trump doesn’t want to be an example. He doesn’t lead via good example. He wants, nay, demands, unquestioning loyalty, a willingness to be humiliated, and a self-conscious, sycophantic toadying that makes his followers not only seem weak, but be repeatedly weakened.
Ross Douthat writing in this morning’s Times says, “Whereas real political authority, the power to rule and not just to survive, is something that Donald Trump conspicuously does not seem to want.” In his article, “Donald Trump Doesn’t Want Authority,” he contrasts the behaviors of Mr. Trump with those of arguably quasi-dictator Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary.
In the face of a worldwide pandemic, Mr. Orban has consolidated his power. Mr. Trump has, essentially, given his away.
You know, Beloved, I’m sure, that the primary action we all take in life here on Earth is that of choice. We choose. That’s how Creation was designed.
You also probably know that not choosing is also a choice. It’s a choice that arises due to many factors, far beyond the scope of this essay, but it must be acknowledged that not choosing is a choice that has a very special instant effect attached to it.
Not to choose is not to take responsibility for your own life. Which means that when things don’t turn out the way you (often secretly) want them to, you can easily blame others as a way to distract from the fact that you didn’t choose at all.
Mr. Orban has been choosing, choosing dramatically, drastically, and perhaps in a power-accumulating way, but he’s chosen, and he’s contained the coronavirus fall-out in Hungary.
Mr. Trump has not been choosing at all. He chose not to take the virus seriously from the get-go because it might affect the then-stellar stock market. Not so much anymore. He chose not to take the advice of one scientific and medical expert after another. He chose not to heed warning after warning of what would happen if he didn’t take the virus seriously.
The Choiceless Chooser might be a good epithet for the man-toddler at the helm.
Mr. Douthat again, “Great men and bad men alike seek attention as a means of getting power, but our president is interested in power only as a means of getting attention. Which is why, tellingly, his most important virus-related power grab to date has been the airtime grab of his daily news conferences — a temporary coup against the cable television schedule, a ruthless imposition (at least until the reviews turned bad) of presidential reality TV.”
I have to add, not only great men and bad men but great women and bad women as well. The need for attention is an eminently human one. But an addiction to attention is not.
“Trump does have authoritarian instincts, and he does have an intuitive grasp of certain crucial dynamics of American politics that his party’s establishment long lacked. And in a different leader these qualities could lead to dangerous ambition, ruthless effectiveness or both. …
“But in Trump both qualities are swamped by the far more important aspects of his character — a chancer’s fear of claiming any power that might lead to responsibility and someday blame, a showman’s preference for performance over rule, a media addict’s preference for bluster over deeds.”
Authority — true authority, that of being the author of one’s own life be it personal, professional, or political — has responsibility at its core. Mr. Trump takes no responsibility for anything about the Trump Pandemic. It is because of the Office that he holds that he has any authority of any kind at all.
Ross Douthat puts the button on it nobly. “In the fourth year of this presidency the black comedy has finally given way to tragedy. But not because Trump suddenly discovered how to use his authority for dictatorial or democracy-defying purpose. Rather, because in this dark spring America needed a president capable of exercising power and found that it had only a television star, a shirker and a clown.”
It is a tragedy. Because, like it or not, meaning to or not, aware of it or not, Mr. Trump is serving as an unwitting example and polarizing our country even more than it was before. His rubric: don’t choose, place blame, distract, deflect, deny works for every aspect of his sorry life. It amazes me how he can sleep at night or look at himself in the mirror in the morning.
I think the hardest part of his three-ring circus — with apologies to Barnum & Bailey — is the soundtrack I hear underneath all the not-even-very-good showmanship. Do you hear it too? It’s the quiet crackling of hearts. Breaking.
The more we are exposed to his cruelties, the harder it is to see an end to the effects of the pandemic. Willfully ignoring the needs of We the People is making all of us lose the motivation required to keep at it, to keep getting up, to keep doing what needs to be done, to keep going until we come to the end, and then stop.
One of the fall-outs of the pandemic is a universal awareness of how connected we all are. Here’s a homelessness expert from Farhad Manjoo’s article this weekend. “In a similar way, the crisis illustrated the importance of keeping everyone healthy — even people who lack a place to live. ‘Housing is health care,’ explained Abigail Stewart-Kahn, director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. ‘That’s something, in my field, that people have been saying for a long time.’ Now, the connection was inescapable — people who lacked housing were also outside of the health care system, and during a pandemic, their presence on the streets created a risk for everyone else in the city. ‘What this has shown us all is that everyone’s health is intertwined,’ she said.”
Mr. Manjoo asks if the tech billionaires and the trailer park residents who co-habit in Silicon Valley might find a common ground, a way to collaborate, so both tech and trailer park win.
My answer is: sure, there is. We just have to think outside the box. We need to get creative.
Here’s another example. The administration has called the U.S. Postal Service a joke, and demanded that it quadruple its prices — a move meant somehow to personally punish Jeff Bezos by costing him some of his mammoth Amazon profits.
“The slogan on the old Farley Post Office building in New York proclaims these words: ‘Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.’ They were added by one of the building’s architects, William Mitchell Kendall, who found the lines in Herodotus.
“But if that inscription does not suit, there is another one close to the White House and the Capitol, easily read from the street, that reminds us of how much we get from our mail. The old Washington Post Office is now the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, close to Union Station. The inscription over its west entrance asserts that a letter carrier is not only the ‘consoler of the lonely,’ but the ‘enlarger of the common life.’ Common life endures, even in a crisis, as Washington, Lincoln and other presidents instinctively understood. Despite the president’s claims, the Postal Service is no joke.”
No, the Postal Service is not a joke. It’s a necessity. It’s part of the social safety net, an enlarger of the common life, that has been eviscerated for decades. And it would be easy to fix the Postal Service’s issues, but we’d have to think outside the box of the legislation that has kept the Service functioning at a deficit.
The federal government, led by those who favor privatization [ergo, commercialization] of the Postal Service, enacted a law that mandates that the Service fund its own pension system for ten years in advance to the tune of billions of dollars, and not reinvest in its own improvement as most companies would. I defy any enterprise to function at a profit given that constraint.
We are rapidly reaching the point where something has to give. Here’s what has to give: ideology, pathology, partisanship, agendas, laws that protect some but not others, insistence that we have to go back to some imaginary golden age of the past.
The remarkable thing is that we are rife with the renewable resource that will solve every single problem if we’ll just let ourselves use it.
Our inherent creativity.
Barring illness, each human has untold creative capability — to see the box, to dissolve the box, to imagine what it would be like to live outside the box, and to create the structures that would make this new box-less reality a possibility.
Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State; she served under President Bill Clinton from 1997–2001. She says, “As a leader, you have to have the ability to assimilate new information and understand that there might be a different view.”
We are lacking leaders in significant places in our country. So be it.
Many of them have proven to us that they care more for appearances than substance anyway.
Besides, few of them are close enough to the problems that need solving to begin to use their creativity to our advantage.
Jennifer Senior writes, “Years ago, the productivity philosopher and author Adam Grant pointed out to me that the reason we have Post-it Notes is because a chemist at 3M, Spencer Silver, spent years trying fruitlessly to promote his low-tack adhesive in and around the office — until a churchgoing colleague, Art Fry, finally saw one of his presentations and realized the sticky stuff would be perfect for keeping his bookmarks affixed to his hymnals. Propinquity made all the difference.”
Did you know there’s such a thing as Propinquity Theory? I didn’t, but I do now. Propinquity Theory. The term propinquity means nearness. Thus, the theory of propinquity states that individuals affiliate with one another because of spatial or geographical proximity.
This is the Creativity Solution writ local, as it should be. The only way things ever really change, Beloved, begins with one person seeing something a little differently, and taking the small steps to investigate how it might change things in an incremental way to cause a new outcome.
That solution, or the creativity that could cause that solution — to anything, lives between your ears and mine. An Instagram post this morning read: Build A Smart Tomorrow. C’mon, let’s get going. Ready? Set? Create!
Dr. Susan Corso is a metaphysician and medical intuitive with a private counseling practice for more than 35 years. She has written too many books to list here. Her website is www.susancorso.com
© Dr. Susan Corso 2020 All rights reserved.