For some people, the gym is a social atmosphere. They make friends, share the workouts and joke around between sets. At our local gym, a park district facility that serves a major city in Illinois, there are all kinds of people who show up. And I love it.
There are also distinctive personalities who stand out. One of the gym regulars is a senior guy with silver hair pulled back in a pony tail or something like it. He’s a down-to-earth dude who looks quite a bit like Hulk Hogan. I once spied the Hulkster trundling down the street in Clearwater, Florida in his black outfit, trademark bandanna and shining blonde hair. He looked like a homeless center reject. The deceptions of fame are such that people often can’t distinguish between true character and the nature of the person behind the image.
And then there are the copycats.
I’m reminded of the movie Multiplicity, in which the character played by Michael Keaton gets cloned repeatedly and things only get worse as they go. By the eight round of cloning, the replica Keatons can’t intelligibly communicate. He repeats sound bytes in random order, determined to hold court despite his unintelligibility.
That’s how it sounded when the Clone Hulkster started preaching politics in the middle of the gym this morning. He’d turned the topic to Donald Trump, the pro wrestling candidate for the new age of politics. The Clone Hulkster wanted everyone to know that he generally approved of the job being done by the Trumpster. “Now, he wasn’t my choice as a candidate,” the Clone Hulkster proclaimed. “But he’s doing better than I thought.”
I went back to the set of leg lifts I was doing and tried to ignore the guy and his Trump banter. But he kept on. “Anything’s better than that Crooked Hillary,” he thundered. His lifting mates seemed to be nodding their heads.
It was tempting to ask Clone Hulkster a few questions to see if he could back up his claims that Trump was doing so well. But I resisted. And then, a few minutes later, Mr. Clone Hulkster drifted by the television in front of me just as a Fox 32 broadcast carried the headline, “Body parts found in garage.” He turned to me and said. “There’s a lot of messed up people in this world.”
At that point I wanted to reply: “And one of them is President of the United States.” But again, I said nothing. There are arenas where civility is important. The gym is one of them. I’d hate to get thrown out of my membership because some loud jerk was holding court about politics and took offense at something I said. But that’s often how those things happen. It’s seldom the provocateur that gets punished.
By the numbers
On the way driving home from the gym I listened to a news show guest sharing poll numbers about the Donald Trump presidency. “His base is extremely loyal,” the reporter explained. “86% of Republican voters have a favorable view of the job the President is doing.”
That obviously includes Clone Hulkster, I thought to myself.
Then the reporter went on to share information about the views of Independent voters. “Only 38% of Independent think Trump is doing a good job. That’s a telling number because national success is dictated by approval of Independent voters.”
That made me think for a moment. Then a light went on in my head. “If Independent voters don’t approve of Trump…what does that make Republicans who do approve? Dependent Voters?” And if so, upon what information do those voters depend upon to uphold a favorable view of the President.
Facts and such
Well, the economy is doing well on the surface. Trump claims the tax cuts have driven that success. But the trends begun under President Obama were already in place when Trump arrived in office. The facts don’t lie. Unemployment has been falling for successive years.
The analogy to that effect would be a relay runner (Trump) who took the baton for the last lap of a mile relay when his teammate(s) ran the first three laps. You can’t really take credit for winning the whole race when the lead was well-established before you did your part.
Also…the rich and big corporations got their big tax cuts, a move that is supposed to incentivize or grow the economy so that companies do even more hiring.
Perhaps that only works if you don’t mess with the other quotients in the equation. Because the news out in flyover country, where farmers depend on global markets to make profits, is not good. Trump’s tariffs and the retaliation of market nations threaten to erase the profits across a spectrum of industries.
Meanwhile, workers who were formerly employed by American industries in small towns and coal regions are finding out the Trump approach to tariffs and trade wars is having the exact opposite effect. Harley-Davidson, a prototypical American success story, just announced it is sending its jobs overseas. Whoops.
The economy of the conscience
Plus there’s another kind of economy at work in America as well. That is the economy of conscience where the market for truth and honest values is traded. Under the current administration, those emotional commodities are under consistent assault both at home and from foreign nations.
Trump’s brand of bully pulpit attacks are major sustenance for those plagued by a weak conscience because they serve as some level of assurance that the game is being won. But those attacks play far differently among those who are the targets or victims of those attacks, and Trump could not even get along with ally nations at the G-7, including an attempt to take down one of America’s closest allies in Canada. This is a demonstration of massive insecurity on the part of the president, and it threatens international security when other nations can’t expect any degree of loyalty.
Again, all this is illustrated by the “you know this is true” approach of the strongman at the gym. He obviously expected those within earshot to agree with his viewpoints or else he might not have shared them so openly. That’s the zealot’s version of “political correctness.” Dare to expose any disagreement.
That approach even extends to the religious zealots in America, in which the evangelical voter bloc seems to think that a lying, serial adulterer who holds tiny children hostage is a man of godly and noble character. Trump speaks to that segment of Americans as if he were a preacher in a Sunday sermon.
But think about the truth of the current situation: Donald Trump is literally holding tiny, helpless children hostage: def. (“a person seized or held as security for the fulfillment of a condition…”) in order to get his way on immigration and the Wall. That Big Government approach seems exactly the opposite philosophy to that of true conservatives, who don’t want government intruding in anyone’s live. Of course the argument would be that so-called illegal immigrants, who in many cases are seeking asylum and safety in America, should be blocked at the border under any circumstance.
That’s not what the Bible or our Constitution says about immigrants at all.
From Leviticus: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
But for Trump, it’s all about assuming the role of authority, and the authoritarian. Because unlike Jesus Christ, who asked questions of the religious authorities of his time in order to illustrate the error of their ways, the Trump Way always seems to depend on some level of extortion, threats or outright lying to justify its cruel objectives. There is nothing Christ-like at all in the man. No humility. No turn the other cheek. No “love your enemies.” He’s even called the Free Press the “enemy of the people.”
Right and wrong
These are all acts that depress the economy of the conscience. People struggle to know the difference between wrong and right when so much wrong is foisted upon them. It’s gaslighting writ large. Dictator wanne-be’s like Trump have always used the most vulnerable people to negotiate greater power for themselves and wrench loyalty from their fecklessly dependent supporters. There is literally no excuse, God-given or not, for supporting the likes of Donald Trump. He is a con man with zero morals and zero conscience. He courts racists as allies and threatens entire nations with nuclear annihilation if they don’t obey his word. He is, in truth, a threat to the entire world.
And his dependent supporters love it. That brand of vicarious triumphalism is contagious and addictive.
Thus the weak-ass logic of the supposed strongman at the gym demonstrates just how un-American and hateful the entire Trump populism is turning to be. It’s all based on a political dependency: defined as; a dependent or subordinate thing, especially a country or province controlled by another.
In fact, one could describe the 86% support by Republican voters for Trump as a sign of co-dependency. ”
Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs.
So much for land of the free, home of the brave. It’s all about denying conscience in order to justify a show of strength. The strongman at the gym admitted as much, but he still doesn’t understand the fake nature of his loyalty, his co-dependency on the strongman nature of Donald Trump, or how often he has been cloned for those purposes.