By many measures, Donald Trump, his entire cabinet of self-dealing robber barons, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the whole lot are extraordinarily successful people. (By many other measures, they’re wildly unsuccessful, but let’s not quibble.)
We can all agree that when our children are grown, when they become the adults we’ve groomed them to be, we’d like them to be rich and powerful, as opposed to poor and impotent. My son, the Senator! The Chairman of a Large Corporation! A Consultant!
Gentlemen like our President and his claque represent a certain American ideal of making good on the opportunity to achieve, an opportunity, we’re taught, extended to each citizen of this great country, regardless of skin color, religion or sex, even if they’re a woman with a pussy fit for grabbing. Thanks to our Exceptionalism, the United States of America is a perfectly level playing field. With hard work, determination and above-average cleverness, every single person has the chance to own bankrupt casinos, or, at the very least, attract “donations” from industries with business before Congress.
What is the ideal version of myself? Who is the person I wish to one day be?
Those of us who answer “Jesus Christ” or “Ghandi” must be living in a highly theoretical fantasy land. In the real world, pacifism and caring about others makes you something other than Number One, and that’s not acceptable to a genuine patriot.
Those of us who answer “Donald Trump” or “Paul Ryan” understand that being vehemently abhorred and hurting an entire nation of people you’ll never meet isn’t as important as being rich and powerful. It’s nice to have tens of millions — billions — of reasons not to care. Financial success and fame make a lot of problems utterly irrelevant (to you and yours). Being a “beautiful person” with a “kind spirit” is all well and good, but so is giving to tax-deductible charities.
Let’s come clean: Not only did many of us vote for the fine fellows currently looting the treasury, we pray we can in some way fulfill their inspiring ideals. Sure, few of us are talented enough to be, say, Mike Pence, but at least we can aspire to see the world through his ideological lens, with a value system based on personal enrichment and hoarded power. (And Christian values, too, when expedient). No, we can’t all be President Great, but we can emulate.
In this New Year, with new opportunities to refine the best version of ourselves, we must pick our role models wisely. Our nation’s future depends upon it.