Trump, and the Subtleties of Not Giving a Fuck

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If you’re just reading this after waking up from a coma, let me first congratulate for stumbling on my humble, little blog. Your priorities are solid. Next, I would ask that you take a seat, cause I have a piece of news that’s a bit of doozy.

Take a deep breath. I’m gonna say it quickly:

Donald Trump is the president of the United States.

Shh, shh. It’s okay. If you’re wondering how this happened, most of us are still doing the same.

But from where we’re sitting, Trump’s been in office for about two months now. During that time, he’s launched a slew of national protests and established himself as the least popular president to in the quickest amount of time.

In these next four years, you’re going to hear story after story about Trump’s various Tweets and misdoings. But as you go about reorganizing your life, it’s important for you to understand what exactly caused him to rise in first place.

Xenophobia, racism and populism have all been cited as explanations for Trump’s ascent to power. While these reasons contain a kernel of truth, much of Trump’s rise can actually be attributed to a subtlety important philosophy he displayed throughout his campaign:

Namely, Donald Trump did not give a fuck.

During his candidacy, Trump showed that he did not give two hoots about the established political order. Talk about your dick in a national debate? Fuck it. Ban an entire religion from entering the country? Why the fuck not.

Say what you will about The Donald. But despite the pundits predicting his downfall every step of the way, Trump kept marching to his own, heinous little beat. And you’ve gotta admit – before you thought he could win, some teenie part of you thought it was entertaining.

As a matter of fact, this “no fucks given” mentality is actually one of the most liberating qualities a person can have, which is largely what drew people to Trump. Yet this state of “not giving a fuck” becomes dangerous when it’s channeled toward the wrong means.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

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Before we return to Trump, it’s helpful to understand why not giving a fuck is a trait that’s so important.

One of my favorite bloggers, Mark Manson, recently released a book on the topic called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Despite the gimmicky title, the work contains some pretty profound insights into the liberation that comes with the “no fucks given” mentality. Here’s a brief summary of Manson’s argument:

Throughout our lives, an endless amount of forces are competing for our fucks. We give a fuck about our education. We give a fuck about our careers. We give a fuck about our reputation, our family, our political parties and whether or not the barista spelled our name correctly on our caramel venti mocha.

Obviously, some of these things are pretty fuck-worthy. Yet when we dole out our fucks too liberally, that’s when life fucks us.

The examples of this trend abound, but an easy one can be seen in a guy who struggles with this ladies. This dude gives a lot of fucks about his loneliness. But when the opportunity to speak to someone he finds attractive presents itself, he’ll usually stare at the floor and go buy another drink. After too any of these encounters, he’ll start complaining about how women can’t see the value in “nice guy” and wallow in self pity.

This guy gives too many fucks. He’s not willing to risk the inevitable awkwardness and rejection that comes with dating, but he still feels like he’s entitled to a vibrant love life.

On the contrary, a person with a healthy attitude doesn’t give a fuck about rejection or loneliness. He has higher priorities like his career, his hobbies, his family and friends. As a result, he feels no fear in communicating his interest with women, and in turn, he will have more success in the dating game.

In this example, it’s the man’s lack of fucks that makes the difference. And so it is with most of life’s challenges.

Wanna quit your job and start a business? You have to not give a fuck. Wanna end a relationship with a toxic family member? You have to not give a fuck. Wanna run for president when people think you’re a joke? Well, you get the point…

Every choice you make requires you to surrender something. And in order to make the proper sacrifices, you have to quit giving a fuck about potential losses. Because when you give a fuck about everything, you feel entitled to a cozy, problem-free existence. But sorry y’all; that world doesn’t exist.

As we get older, the people we used to worry about impressing begin to move away and die, and we come to realize this truth. But a barrier exists within American culture that is preventing people from achieving this state, and Trump capitalized on it…

The 21st-Century American Shame

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In many cases, shame is the mechanism that causes us to give a fuck. For instance, the man who suffers from Nice Guy sydrome is ashamed to communicate sexual interest, and this causes him to struggle with the ladies.

Yet not all forms of shame are bad. Sometimes you experience an uncomfortable, but tolerable, feeling when you do something that makes people judge you negatively – like farting in public. This feeling is called external shame, and it prevents us from acting like (and using our) assholes around each other.

On the other hand, there’s internal shame, which is way more insidious.

Internal shame is a constant sense of being undesirable. It usually stems from childhood experiences during which a person is repeatedly and relentlessly shamed for her behavior. As a result, she will feel the need to please some arbitrary judge throughout her adulthood, which can result in depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Due to changing economic conditions, I propose that a sense of internal shame has festered within the American populace. This may seem like a stretch, but hear me out.

Below are two charts that compare the median income, housing prices and costs of tuition between 1971 and 2014 (all numbers are in 2014 dollars, and the housing prices are listed at 60% of the median for young men and 80% of the median for young families).

Young Men (25-34)

Income

House Price

Down Payment

Monthly PITI

Pct. of Income to PITI

Cost Of Tuition

1971

$44,646

$86,000

$17,200

$655

17.6%

$8,000

2014

$36,097

$170,000

$34,000

$950

31.6%

$23,500

Young Families (25-34)

Income

House Price

Down Payment

Monthly PITI

Pct. of Income to PITI

Cost Of Tuition

1971

$53,522

$115,000

$23,000

$875

19.6%

$16,000

2014

$53,477

$227,000

$45,400

$1,267

28.4%

$47,000

As you can see, in a period of over 50 years, income has decreased for single men and remained stagnant for young families. Meanwhile, housing costs have doubled while tuition has tripled.

With a greater portion of people’s money being spent on tuition and mortgages – vacations, cars and other luxuries are less affordable. As a result, many in our generation cannot live up to the standards on which they were raised, which leads to an increased feeling of internal shame.

For a culture that worships material wealth and achievement, these developments are costly. Indeed, a shocking 2015 study showed that white Americans in the Rust Belt are beginning to die at an earlier rate (the only country in the developed world to experience such a trend). Is it any coincidence that these same areas are overrun with heroin, meth and alcoholism?

No. The meaning people once derived from their lives is disappearing. We cannot achieve the lifestyle we were raised to believe was valuable, and as a result, we do not feel valuable.

Enter: Donald Trump.

The 2016 Campaign

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In psychology, a phenomenon known as transference occurs when a person projects her emotions onto an unrelated party. If you’ve ever avoided dating someone because s/he reminds you of an ex, you’ve experienced this feeling to an extent.

With leadership roles, people tend to gravitate toward figures onto whom they can project their desire to escape fear. For instance, if the pilot of your aircraft suddenly suffers a heart attack, you’re desperately going to want to find a leader in the cabin who can land the plane safely.

As I explained in the last section, the central problem of our generation is the failure to reap the fruits of a growing economy. This trend leaves people ashamed. And as shown by the developments of 2016, voters are seeking to transfer that shame onto a leader whom they view as having defeated such a limitation.

In other words, people wanted someone who doesn’t give a fuck. And in the last election, they were a lot of them.

During the 2016 campaign, “outsider” candidates dominated. Of the nearly 62 million votes cast in the primaries, Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders won 56.6% of them. These guys had virtually no support from their respective establishments. Sanders was an independent; Cruz was hated by every member of his party; and Trump was a fucking celebrity.

Yet these candidates were able to break the historical mold and win a substantial majority of the vote. Why? Because they didn’t have to give a fuck.

With no “higher-ups” to please, the outsiders of 2016 did not have to tamper their rhetoric. This allowed Sanders to castigate the billionaire class (who help fund most campaigns) and Trump to talk about his dick on national television.

Meanwhile, candidates like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio had to “give a fuck” about the standards of their party. They were more ashamed to speak non-formally on the campaign trail, which led to the inoffensive, “please-everyone” rhetoric voters are used to hearing (seriously: remember when Mitt Romney’s 47% remark was enough to doom him  five years ago)?

With a sense of internal shame festering within them, people were no longer comforted by this manufactured formality. So, they chose to turn to leaders who did not display any.

Aaaaaand.. then we got Agent Orange.

This trend wasn’t just confined to America. In 2016, the Philippines elected the Hitler-esque Duterte, and Britain voted to leave the European Union. Both of these movements rode the backs of shameless leaders who were “telling-it-like-it-is.”

So, if this state of not-giving-a-fuck is such a good thing, why is it being trumpeted by demagogues?

When Not Giving A Fuck Goes Wrong

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There’s a bit of a misunderstanding when it comes to not giving a fuck. Namely, it’s not actually possible.

Behind every action lies an intention. Even if you’re on the block, with two glocks, screaming fuck the world like Tupac, you’re still giving a fuck about not giving a fuck. Thus, it’s impossible not to care about anything.

So, to determine where a person is allocating his fucks, the best place to look his actions. And in Trump’s case, his actions show that the prime source of his fuck-channeling is his himself.

Many have labelled Trump a narcissist. People who suffer from this disorder think that the world centers around them; others are merely tools with which the narcissist can fulfill his emotional needs.

When you look closely, you can see that Trump’s prime motivator is attention. So far in his life, Trump has posed as a publicist to spread stories about who he’s dating. He’s thrown his name on buildings, steaks, board games and vodka. He’s undermined Muslims, immigrants and women to construct a voter base. And in all of these actions, Donald Trump has been the prime beneficiary.

So, yeah. Trump’s probably a narcissist. He’s very good at not giving a fuck about the things that don’t suit his purpose, but the only purpose he is trying to serve is the promotion of himself..

In spite of these motivations, I don’t necessarily buy into the narrative that Trump poses a critical threat to America. Other developed countries have elected egomaniacs, and they’re only slightly worse for the wear.

Instead, I think the best response to Trump is to question what he, and we, are giving a fuck about.

Namely, we should ask ourselves if our dislike of Trump stems from a desire to have everyone else share our worldview, or if we dislike him because we care about the people his actions might hurt. The former reason is narcissistic; the latter is important.

So, perhaps we stop quit giving a fuck about where Kellyanne Conway is kneeling, and start giving a fuck about how medicaid cuts are going to affect the impoverished. Perhaps we should quit caring about Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, and begin caring about how tax breaks will continue to widen the income inequality that has been killing middle America.

The fucks that we give define us. It’s subtle, but opposition to Trump can be as self-serving as the methods he used to gain power. Half of America is watching the lives they once knew crumble. While voting for Trump ran against their best-interests, the action is motivated by a real life-or-death struggle.

So maybe we should stop giving a fuck about the trivial games of the politicians, and start giving a fuck about them.

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