Trump, Women, and Assertive Men

Trump, Women, and Assertive Men

Trump’s Women

What do we know about Donald Trump’s attitudes and behavior toward women?

  1. We know he favors women’s bodies over their minds.
  2. We know he objectifies women’s body parts. He has even discussed openly the high quality of his daughter’s body parts.
  3. We know he’s in the habit of rating women from 1-10.
  4. We know he is apt to criticize a woman’s face. “Look at that face!” He commented on Carly Fiorina’s. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
  5. We know that he owned the Miss Universe Contest. We know he took a hands on interest in his pageants and contestants, by, for example, fat shaming Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe winner, for weight gain, and by sneaking into the changing room to view the beauties naked.
  6. We know he likes to insult women by calling them names. For example, he called Machado “Miss Piggy,” and “Miss Housekeeping.” Megan Kelly, of Fox News, noted in a debate that he had called women “fat pigs,” ”dogs,” ”slobs,” and “disgusting animals.” He confirmed that he had called Rosie O’Donnell one of those names. He also called O’Donnell “crude, rude, obnoxious, and dumb.”
  7. We know he bullies women. O’Donnell says she not only was bullied by Trump but mentally “tortured.” Elizabeth Warren, who he calls Pocahontas, called him a bully in return.
  8. We know he is likely to kiss a beautiful woman, and grab her privates. “I’m . . . attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it.” When Billy Bush responds “Whatever you want?” He replies “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
  9. We know that twelve women have come forward to accuse Donald Trump of unwanted sexual advances of the type he bragged of to Billy Bush.

Questions for Trump Voters::

  1. If sexism is ”prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex,” is President-Elect Trump a sexist? Yes_____ No_____.
  2. If misogyny is “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women,” is President-Elect Trump a misogynist? Yes_____ No_____
  3. If a bully is “a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker,” is President-Elect Trump a bully? Yes_____ No_____
  4. Do you agree that President-Elect Trump by his actions has done considerable harm to the self-images, confidence, and self-concepts of girls and young women? Yes_____ No_____

Comment: Please explain. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Donald Trump’s Hillary Clinton

What do we know of Donald Trump’s attitudes and behavior toward Hillary Clinton?

  1. We know he questioned her ability to participate in a debate without using the bathroom, adding that it is “too disgusting” a topic to talk about.
  2. We know he spread the rumor that Hillary Clinton was ill and “lacks the mental and physical stamina” to be President.
  3. We know he called Secretary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” throughout the campaign and created the impression that she was a criminal.
  4. We know he attacked her as a woman. “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.”
  5. We know he told a Wilmington, North Carolina rally: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
  6. We know that he “hovered behind” and “loomed over” Secretary Clinton in the Second Presidential Debate, in an apparent attempt to intimidate her.
  7. We know that he threatened in the same debate to have “his” Attorney General investigate her “situation” after the election and “put her in jail.”
  8. We know that he used the Republican Party Convention to conduct a criminal trial of Secretary Clinton, under the judgeship of Chris Christie, and repeated the trick, in shortened form, in the debates.
  9. We know that he invoked the mantra “Lock Her Up!” against Secretary Clinton in the convention and throughout the campaign.
  10. We know that he called Secretary Clinton a “nasty woman” in the Third Presidential Debate.
  11. We know he also called Secretary Clinton a brace of other epithets during the campaign: “the devil,” “witch,” “founder of ISIS,” “incompetent,” “shrill,” “criminal,” and “pathetic.” He tolerated his fans calling her a “bitch.”
  12. We know he accused Hillary of enabling her husband’s infidelities.
  13. We know he accused her of attacking women who had claimed liaisons with her husband.
  14. We know he conjectured that Mrs. Clinton had been unable to satisfy her husband’s needs. We know too that he insinuated that she had been unfaithful to her husband.
  15. We know he accused her of rigging the election.

Questions for Trump Voter

Does President-Elect Trump’s conduct toward Secretary Clinton convince you that Mr. Trump is a:

  1. Sexist? Yes_____ No_____
  2. Misogynist? Yes_____ No_____
  3. Bully? Yes_____ No _____
  4. Do you agree that Hillary Clinton did not respond to Mr. Trump in kind by stereotyping and denigrating him as a man and human being? Yes _____ No _____
  5. Do you agree that it would have been an historical event, and a singular encouragement to girls and young women, if a female had been elected President of the United States?
    Yes _____ No _____
  6. If yes, would you agree that the election of Trump is a stunning set-back for women’s equality and standing as human beings?

Comment: Please explain. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Outcome

Hillary Clinton is not a popular politician with all Americans, and particularly with men. She is disliked by most and mistrusted by many. She had a thirty year record in public service available for opposition research, and millions of dollars were spent to “get the goods” on her over decades.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, had been President of the United States for eight years, leaving office with an approval rating of 65% despite having been impeached. Due to the double standards of gender politics, all the weight of his failings was available to be heaped on  Hillary’s shoulders in this campaign, while none of his popularity and success accrued to her merit.

Hillary Clinton had been a hard working and effective Senator for two terms, exiting with an approval rating of 56% from her New York State constituents. She had been a successful Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s first term, leaving with the President’s praise for a job well done, and an approval record of 65% among the public. She had been out of office for four years before running for President a second time in 2016, and didn’t do anything wrong in the interim. She mostly testified to Congress for the offense of seeking the presidency.

Voters should have been able to pull the lever for Clinton with scarcely a qualm. No deep research or rocket science was required. Yet the voters, dumbfounded and outfoxed by disturbing media stories, befuddled themselves. Years of clever skullduggery and horror stories were required to beat her—along with restrictions on the right to vote in fifteen states; many a gerrymandered house district; the electoral college system; sneaky efforts at voter suppression; and 3 billion dollars spent in the campaign. But stop her they did, even when the obvious ethical imperative for a patriotic citizen became to stop Donald Trump at all costs from becoming President. An awesome political achievement for sure, with or without Russian assistance. Sexism, misogyny, bullying, and ageism played their artful, cunning parts, and Donald Trump prevailed.

Assertive Men

I tend to like Presidents best after they have left office. I had unexceptional expectations for Hillary Clinton. Her hawkishness bothered me a lot. Her pro-Israel stance seemed to overlook the dire plight and disappearing rights of Palestinians. Yet, I thought she’d make a good solid President. She was the obvious choice. What other ethical choice was there?

One thing did surprise me, though, which relates to the intuition of a “hidden problem” noted in the entry entitled Trumpeter University Learning Lab. I had met during the campaign only one man who felt as positive about Secretary Clinton as I did. Every other male acquaintance, of whatever political persuasion, spoke of “real” or “deep” or “serious” or “concerning” problems with Clinton, even the ones who said they were going to vote for her. They spoke of “blandness,” and “trust,” and “lies,” and “crimes,” and “deceits,” and “theft,” and “fraud,” and “scandals,” and “treason,” and “ambition,” and “tiredness,” and“stamina,” and “avarice,”and “boring,” and “lack of vision,” and “over the hill,” and “lack of a plan,” and “unwatchable,“ and “uninspiring,” and “arrogance.” Most uttered their defamations with deep feeling, a bit of anger, and definite certainty, the more so as election day drew near. Chris Matthews opined one night that her focus on motherhood and parenting wasn’t an engaging message. Brooks and Shields spoke of her uninspired speeches and her failure to offer a vision of the future for the country. Only President Obama and Tim Kaine—what else would you expect of them—spoke of her extraordinary experience, credentials, competence, work ethic, and steadfastness. On record, Clinton was the best prepared candidate for the presidency in American history, but that was considered insufficient by  discerning men to offset her “deficits.”

In the meantime, the Republican party had unleashed full-scale sexism, misogyny, and bullying in their “lock her up!” “jail her!”cadenced convention, and their candidate, Donald Trump ruthlessly carried on the flaming denigration in his rowdy boy rallies, and in the three debates. Clinton was by then a criminal on the loose protected from arrest by amorphous elites in a rigged system.

No one, excepting a courageous Christian minister, defending her sanctuary, stood up to Trump. No one said: “Stop it.” “Show a little common decency.” “Show some respect.” “Children are watching.” “Address her by her rightful name.” Clinton didn’t even get the basic respect that teachers insist upon for students in their classrooms.

What we were watching, it turned out, was the age old need of men to control and dominate women. Fox-trapped whites had defamed Barack Obama for eight years because of their need to diminish and dominate blacks. Now muscular detritus spewed forth from a new source. Stigmata residual from the racial smear years was to be enhanced with some good old-fashioned woman bashing, a fine inheritance for Clinton to carry into the campaign. Then she was paraded nightly before rally juries to be tried as criminal, murderer, devil, or witch.

Clinton, judged by only the facts, should have won in a landslide, just as President Obama should have received more abundant appreciation for his achievements and service as President. But by then—this year, this fall—voters, particularly male voters, had worked themselves so deeply into cognitive circuitry mashings that any male candidate, even Donald Trump, seemed preferable to wicked, crooked Hillary. Trump was better! Being a woman had nothing at all to do with it. But it did.

That turned out to be the answer to the mathematical conundrum discussed at length and highlighted in the first Trumpster Learning Lab.

Question: How could it possibly be that the number of Trump’s disqualifications for the office of President could be increased from 69 to infinity without mass defections of patriotic citizens to Clinton?

Answer: the basic need of men to retain dominance over women is still that powerful in the male psyche.

Men weren’t ready for a woman president.

The rally stalwarts who Clinton found so deplorable led the way in the demonization of Clinton. But their misogyny was well known by the end of the primaries, and was of no great surprise after that, accompanied as it was by equally hateful attitudes of other sorts: racism, nativism, Islamophobia, Muslimophobia, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

The larger mass of males, hiding behind their sober, sensible “reasoning,” “research,” “independence,” “indecision,” and “Bernie voter” status, some of whom voted for Clinton nonetheless, regularly asserted their “concerns” when asked. Many took their “never Hillary” (not yet a woman) attitude into the voting booth.

If I were to fashion “markers” to “distinguish” the men I’m talking about, I would call out:

  • men who had a woman boss problem somewhere in the past;.
  • super-competitors who like to listen to sports jock radio;
  • men who like to trash talk;
  • men who like to control the conversation;
  • men who think of themselves as ladies men;
  • guys who think of themselves as top guns and alpha men;
  • and, men who need to stand out at a party.

But I could be wrong. From a self-directed learning perspective, it doesn’t really matter. The Hillary bashers and the men who didn’t want a woman President know who they are. The question is what they will do with this self knowledge. Donald Trump will be in the White House to remind them of the importance of the question.

So why do men want to quickly get over this election, stiffen up, and move on? Because we men pulled it off, and relatively easily, all things considered, and the women haven’t bashed us yet. We think we got away with it. Let’s move on before the women notice and come after us.

This is the fourth in a series on the 2016 Presidential election.

Will Callender, Jr. ©

December 22, 2016

Author of Abdication: God Steps Down for Good

Trumpster University Learning Lab 2

Trumpster University Learning Lab 2

In Trumpster University Learning Lab 1, ten days ago, we found that no amount of disqualifications could be amassed sufficient to dissuade followers from voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Today’s report on Trumpster University Lab 2 builds upon the first. It convened a select group of Trump voters dedicated to critical thinking and self-directed learning. As explained in the last blog, self-directed learning is a sound philosophy and method to employ in approaching matters of personal change and growth through learning. The adult citizen directs and conducts his own learning as a facilitator presents “situations” to reflect upon and address.

While people may not think of themselves in this way, every person has multiple selves, at least two, usually three, sometimes a virtual choir, all in the one person that bears his name. You’ll find these selves distinct enough in the silent talks you have with yourself (there are three selves engaged: the one that speaks, the one that hears, and the one that reacts and responds.) “I” act, “I” observe, “I” evaluate, “I” judge, “I” decide, “I” change. There are abundant selves interacting in the stages of any one thoughtful act. They provide enough self-reflection for the light to come in and change a mind. That’s all that’s needed: thinking, openness, honesty, light, insight, and the courage to change one’s mind.

It cannot be said that Trumpster University Lab 2 was a great success, such was the contention and contumely unleashed among the impassioned participants. Nevertheless, random results of some interest were produced, and they are reported here for the education and edification of the public. Questions for further study follow each summary for the self-directed learner.

Activity 1. – Trump Character Profile
It seemed likely that a ‘conversion’ or ‘compacting’ of Trump’s multifarious disqualifications for office into a personal characterization of the candidate could sharpen the issue and focus the voter’s decision making. Therefore, the following instructions were issued:

“Review the disqualifications for office of Donald J. Trump cited on Will’s list of 69 and on Keith Olbermann’s list of 176; then summarize Donald Trump’s character by applying fitting appellations and adjectives.”

The responses, in alphabetical order, were:

abuser of women, alpha male, angry, anti-immigrant, anti-democratic, anti-Mexican, bad loser, bad winner, bully, con man, climate change denier, conspiracy theorist, counter-puncher, corporate wheeler-dealer, dictatorial, dominator, erratic, fast talker, fabricator, fear pervader, humorless, ignorant, insecure, intemperate, liar, loner, likely white supremacist, mean, midnight tweeter, misogynist, narcissist, nasty, nativist, non-reader, possible fascist, power grabber, pugilist, Putinist, racist, rumormonger, self-absorbed, sexist, statist, strongman, thin-skinned, xenophobe, unknowledgeable, unpredictable, vengeful, victim, and whiner.

Questions for Further Consideration

  1. It is difficult to believe that any person whose character actually fit this profile could attract votes for the office of President of the United States? Is there a mistake? Is the list accurate? Is something missing? What should be added or subtracted?
  2. Indeed, if the portrait is accurate, wouldn’t it be our patriotic duty as citizens to insure by our votes that Mr. Trump never became president? Shouldn’t that have been the paramount issue of the campaign?

Activity 2. – Individual Voter Profile.
If each Trump voter inspected the Trump profile, fashioned a comparable profile of himself, and placed the two in mirrored opposition, a strong intuition of likeness or difference should arise, and he’d know why he had chosen to vote for or against the candidate. Therefore, the following instructions were issued:

“Construct a character profile of yourself and compare it with the one constructed for Mr. Trump. Then ask, If I voted for the Donald Trump portrayed above, do these labels apply also to me?”

Most participants were unable to construct a personal character profile of themselves. No one who completed the work was willing to share his product. The discussion soon turned heated. No precise correspondence exists between Mr. Trump and themselves, his voters assert; few of his qualities, if any, apply to them and their votes. “He’s one type of person; I’m another,” said one person. It was unfair, they protested, to hold up Trump’s profile as a mirror for their self-reflection.

Some voters said they disliked Mr. Trump intensely, but voted for him anyway, because “Hillary was worse.” Others said: “Supreme Court appointments were critical;” “Obamacare must be overturned;” “Christian values must be upheld,” “Liberals deserve defeat;” “Respect abroad has to be reestablished;” etc. “You don’t have to like him to vote for him,”one person explained.

In particular, Trump voters want it understood that they are not racist, bigoted, stupid, or anti-democratic. Neglected and overlooked? Yes. But not racist, not deplorable. Liam intoned: “You’re kidding me! Of course you’re racist. Every American is racist!” Bad moment there.

There was one shared ‘aha’ of some importance. It dawned on everybody that their life was nothing like Donald Trump’s, and vice-versa, his life was nothing like theirs, or, for that matter, like anybody else they knew! He was a world-class businessman and global billionaire who lived in a tower and owned his own planes. The love of golf was one thing some professed to share with him.

Questions for Further Consideration

  1. The voters make a valid and important point. A candidate need not live as you or I do to earn our vote. Is perhaps the link between the celebrity candidate and the disparate voter one of shared concern for the same issues?
  2. On the other hand, mustn’t there be some degree of overlap in character profiles and attitudes between the candidate and his voters? Is agreement on issues enough of a bond?
  3. Wouldn’t a reasonable person surmise that considerable anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, pro-Christian, misogynist, lock-em-up policing, white supremacist, and racist sentiments are common among Trump and his voters?
  4. Wouldn’t a reasonable person also surmise that a spirit of anger, fear, neglect, victimization, resentment, and retribution is shared by Trump and his enthusiasts?
  5. Is it credible that a celebrity who lives a life totally unlike and foreign to most Americans can realistically claim to be their representative, voice, and champion? Are his biographers wrong in reporting that Mr. Trump is self-absorbed and uninterested in the lives of others? Could it be that Mr. Trump has taken advantage of his voters sensitivities?

Activity 3. – Reasons for Voting for Trump.
Instruction to participants who voted for Mr. Trump:

“Explain in your own words why you voted for Donald Trump.”

The answers were: “Hillary’s worse” (4 times); “Time for change;” “Shake things up;” “Straight-shooter;” “No bull;” “Love to hear him tell off the politicians;” “Give hell to the Beltway guys;” “He’ll drain the swamp;“ “No political correctness;” “He’ll drive the bleeding heart liberals nuts;” “He understands what people like me are going through;” “Got to do something about ISIS and terrorism;” “He’ll rebuild our military;” “To do something for the rust belt;” “To get some respect back for the nation;” “Stop illegal immigrants;” “Do something about radical Islam;” “Help the rural areas;” “He’ll help the veterans;” “We need someone strong and tough;” “He will end Obamacare;” “He’ll stand up to China and get our jobs back;” “He will negotiate better trade deals;” “He’s not a politician;” “He’ll save us money;” ”you can’t buy him;” “He’s beholden to no one;” and “He says what he thinks.”

Questions for Further Consideration

  1. “Reasons,” as embedded in these answers, have several surprising characteristics. They are clipped, clever, vague, opaque, and exceedingly general. Most are catchphrases. They sound like slogans. They also sound familiar. Have we heard them before?
  2. Could it be that a cache of reasons for voting for a candidate— in this case for Mr. Trump—is a culturally acquired vocabulary initiated by a campaign, constructed in the course of the events of the campaign, and ritualized into catchphrases by repeated media use?
  3. Could it be that millions of people are drawn by electronic messaging to accept the same reasons to vote? Do we receive them by sight or ear, find them credible, and come eventually to feel them deeply and passionately as our own? Are reasons marketed like commodities for use by partisans in the voting booth?
  4. Isn’t it also clear that overarching reasons, like the ones attributed by the Trump voter for his vote, are endpoints of a storytelling process? Are they not conclusions at the end of a narration?. Don’t they sound like titles of missing stories? The auditor has no information at all about the circumstances, events, and reasoning that has brought the voter to his conclusion and decision. The story— its architecture, its staging, its sections, its paragraphs, and its sentences—are absent, missing, and unavailable.

Activities 4. and 5. –  Logical and moral reasoning. These activities, frankly, didn’t come off at all. The discussion broke down shortly, then completely, and the workshop ended. For the record, though, here are the original questions. I’ll try too to explain what happened.

Activity 4. –  Logical Argument:

In the interests of understanding the background story that led to your decision to vote for Mr. Trump, please translate the summary reason cited for your vote into a set of logical propositions: A, B, C, D, . . . to Z, where “A” begins: “I was very concerned about issues affecting me, my family, and community,” and “Z” equals “therefore, I voted for Trump,” with B,C,D,E,F,.…Y filling in the intermediate arguments in a causal chain telling the story logically from A to Z.

Activity 5. – Ethical Justification:

Does the reasoning you’ve provided about your vote include an ethical justification for voting for Trump despite his many disqualifications for the office? Yes _____ No _____ If “yes,” what is the justification? If “no,” how did you justify setting aside the myriad of disqualifications documented in the media? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What Happened?

Trump voters insisted they had already given their full reasons for voting for Mr. Trump, and that nothing more need be added. That is essentially what happened. There is no long string of logical reasoning behind their votes. There is no extensive moral reasoning either. One person spoke for many in saying: “You like him, you vote for him! No big deal.” Another person, who hadn’t previously spoken, said “I hate the guy, and Hillary too, but I voted for him because he’s Republican, as am I.” Others jumped in: “Right,” it’s “the court picks;” “Obamacare;” “religious freedom;” “the Iran treaty,” “respect for America around the world,” “runaway immigration;” “broken borders;” and “law and order.” Another person reported that he “just wanted to shake things up and see what happened.” There was nothing more to talk about than that!

Questions for Further Consideration

  1. If a voter’s decision doesn’t include a full and truthful account of how he arrived at his vote, is he not diminished as a storyteller? Is not his story lost? Isn’t the power of history to teach likewise diminished?
  2. If a voter’s decision is unsupported by a logical account of the facts, values, and circumstances that led up to it, does he not curtail and sacrifice his abilities and influence as a rational person and convincing speaker? If his reasoning isn’t available and understood, couldn’t his vote be seen as irrational?
  3. If a voter’s decision fails to include an ethical account of how a candidate’s deficits and disqualifications are offset by other circumstances, and by higher and more important principles, is he unethical? Does he not diminish his standing as an ethical person and good citizen?
  4. If it is true that the only explanation a person can give to himself for his vote is a  catchphrase—such as I voted “for change,” or “against Clinton,” or “I voted Republican,” or “to make America Great”—wouldn’t the person be exhibiting a Swiss-cheese kind of mind full of disconnected thoughts? Is this not mental vacuity?
  5. If such a fright or specter of vacuousness and banality is suspected, isn’t that conclusion confirmed the moment a person argues in serious that no factual basis, logical reasoning, or ethical principles lie behind the generalization he has given for his vote?
  6. If one’s reasons for voting are general, acquired, and vague, and also unsupported by facts, evidence, logic, and ethical principles, does the voter really know what he is talking about? Does he actually know what he means? Do not vocabularies of reasons for voting, once regurgitated by partisans for months, take on the character of nonsense and craziness?
  7. Does not craziness and irrationality become particularly evident in elections such as this one, when issues are bypassed in favor of character embellishment and assassination? Suddenly matters of hair style, weight, age, sex, fatigue, toilet use, walking, and bearing become super-important, and pro and con reasons emerge to enforce firm judgment. Body stigmata are read. Such stigmata might be part of the reason trust and comfort issues became so critical, and why disqualifications for the office could be overlooked and disregarded?
  8. Might not millions of voters have no real idea of why they voted as they did? If this were not so, why do millions of voters consistently vote against their own self-interests?
  9. If, as some voters have said, Donald Trump is nothing like them, but they voted for him for their own good reasons nonetheless, have they not made themselves victims of arrogance, negligence, and fantasy? Do they really believe that the nightmares Trump’s character flaws foretell can be prevented and avoided while their personal wishes are fulfilled and their dreams come true?
  10. Can a voter legitimately claim a “good” and “ethical” reason for voting for Mr. Trump and thereby avoid accountability for whatever wrongs and illegalities he may perpetuate once in office? Can a Trump voter be innocent of future wrongs committed on Trump’s watch and in his name? Is it true that the voter couldn’t have known better?
  11. Isn’t it obvious that “resentment” is the most powerful fragrance Trump voters share with Mr. Trump?  If so, why the resentment? What’s it about? Does the Trump voter have cause? Are there clear injuries to redress? Who are the people who victimized you, the voter?
  12. Shouldn’t Donald Trump ask himself, above all else: why am I so unhappy and resentful after all of my wealth, success, fame, and God given blessings? Why is there no laughter, humor, happiness, empathy, and joy in me? What has gone  wrong with my life?

Conclusion

I have been unable to find even one good reason to vote for Donald Trump. I can certainly understand why people whose profile of attitudes and sentiments overlaps his did vote for him. But those would be voters who voted for bad reasons. If Mr. Trump’s ascension is truly a populist movement, that movement is fundamentally fearful, resentful, misogynist, bigoted, racist, and white supremacist. Much has been made of the rural, rust-belt voter overlooked by politicians, elites, and government. I have great sympathy for them, and would welcome a rural renewal act and an infrastructure jobs bill in the next Congress. But rural areas have been in decline for decades, including the years when my family lived in Washington County, Maine. More to the point, the complaints of rural people in this election were mostly about “other people,” people they for whatever reason resent and fear. It wasn’t so much about their own pocketbook issues.

Nothing is as nonsensical as the “vocabulary of reasons” the campaign generated for voting for Trump and against Clinton. As indicated, these “reasons” tended to be isolated, sing-song, catchphrases that embodied more than a little craziness, weirdness, and banality. It was like a cockfight out there, with fans on both sides of the ring casting hurtful word slugs at one another. It is terrifying to conclude that millions of voters may not even have known what they meant by the reasons they cited for their votes. Their overarching “reasons” lacked a discernible storyline and trail in logic and and ethical reasoning.

Nothing is more fundamental to democracy than the right to vote. Of the various possibilities for the 15th Amendment in 1869, I would have preferred a fourth more liberal version that included women. It would have read:

Section 1. Citizens of the United States have the right to vote when they attain the age of eighteen.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

All adult citizen should have the right to vote. No competency test short of total mental incapacitation should be allowed. The citizen might be ignorant, illiterate, uneducated, simple-minded, incoherent, inconsistent, newly arrived in town and state, naturalized yesterday, and in jail, and still possess, in my opinion, an inalienable right to vote. Such a right, and the responsibility that goes with it, is entirely the voter’s, a matter of civic pride and self-respect. No external agent should try to force civic duty. The obligation is personal and private, some would say sacred. As to my efforts and questions about your vote, let’s be clear, it’s none of my business. Tell me to keep my adult education ideas to myself if I bother you too much. It’s your right, and lots of good and brave people sacrificed their life for it.

But that said, I think the 62 million or so people who voted for Donald Trump made a mistake and let the country and themselves down. I hope over the coming years each of them questions himself honestly and ruthlessly in the inner sanctum of his mind to clarify his thinking and, most important, do better next time.

The election is over and the circus animals are out of their cages, loose in the world. Any observer can see from his cabinet picks that rural America and American workers are the farthest concerns from Mr. Trump’s mind. Citizen participation and future elections are what counts now. All the open minds and good voices out there in the nation will be needed to protect the Constitution and preserve democracy from the storms that President Trump will soon unloose upon us to roil and rumble across the land.

This is the third in a series on the 2016 Presidential election.

Will Callender, Jr. ©

December 14, 2016

Author of Abdication: God Steps Down for Good

Trumpster University Learning Lab

Trumpster University Learning Lab

When a List of Trump’s Disqualifications was published two weeks ago, six confidants, all male, three Trump voters and three Clinton voters of Bernie descent, cried foul—Stop! The election’s over! Get a life! Move on! —revealing by their unease not only the many demands on their time, but also, perhaps, an uncomfortable secret, something buried and best forgotten. What could it be?

Then, a former student called claiming that I was channeling Elie Wiesel by compiling a damning record, bearing witness, and protecting history’s power to teach. Yes, I guess so—thanks for the great compliment. I’m arranging for an autopsy too!

Another former student sent a comment that was a self-inquisition, a poem, and a learning exercise, all in one. He thinks I’m setting up a learning lab for self-directed learners. He’s right. I think of my list, with its numbers and lines, as an opportunity to question oneself about one’s vote. It’s a learning tool for Trump Voters. I also think of the list as an instrument for taking a picture of ourselves as Americans, a national “selfie,” a portrait of ourselves on election day.

Dogmatic certainty has always been man’s curse, as Socrates taught. I wanted to see if the wall Trump had built in his cult could be cracked. Could a person who voted for Donald Trump be guided to change his mind? Could the Trump voter by self-study be expected to attain the recent enlightenment of Glenn Beck?

Puzzling Stumper

I had gotten this idea—of a platform for self-directed learning in the form of a list—by stumbling upon a shocking fact: the Trump voter would vote for Trump even in the face of considerable contrary evidence. Trump himself had tipped me off:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Donald J. Trump, Sioux City, Iowa, January 24, 2016

If Trump is right, and so far he has been, I should be able to keep a record and make a list of the many disqualifying things Trump has done in life, and his biographers and analysts have confirmed. That would make for a portrait of the dismal disqualifications the Trump voter knew about him on election day when he voted for him anyway. I could number these reproofs, put a short line beside each, invite the willing learner to check the ones he knew of and star the ones he found most disqualifying. Two weeks later, in this blog, I could ask the Trump Voter if he’d changed his mind. My hypothesis would be: No, he hadn’t, and wouldn’t, not even if the cows came in and the chickens came home to roost.

To set up and test the hypothesis properly, I would have to deal with the possibility that my list was too short, that a change of heart could occur at some point “X” on a list of additional disqualifications. That forced me to state the hypothetical proposition this way:

The Trump Voter in the 2016th Presidential election would continue to refuse to change his vote  even if the number of disqualifications known on election day  increased from 63 to a number approaching infinity.

Learning Lab for December 4, 2016

Goal: To determine the number of items on a list of disqualifications the participant would have to have prior knowledge of before deciding not to vote for Donald Trump.

Instructions to Trump Voters

Although insufficient to influence your vote, identify by number the statements on Will’s List of 63 you find most shocking and potentially disqualifying. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
After reading Will’s list of 63, choose “A” or “B”
A. Still a Trump voter. _____
B. No longer a Trump Voter. _____

3. If your answer is A., “still a Trump Voter,” choose “A” or “B” after viewing Keith Olbermann’s video detailing 176 reasons not to vote for Trump:
A. Still a Trump voter. _____
B. No longer a Trump Voter. _____

4. If your answer is A., “still a Trump voter,” choose “A” or “B.” after reading Will’s back-up set of additional disqualifications:

* * * * *
Will’s Additional List of Trump Disqualifications 

64. Harassed Megan Kelly of FOX News to the point of fearing for her life, getting death threats, hiring personal security and, forcing a Fox executive to intervene on her behalf to tell the Trump Campaign to knock it off. _____

65. Prosecuted for multiple instances of discrimination against African Americans in rental units, in housing financed partially with public funds. Settled the lawsuits out of court. _____

66. Prosecuted for defrauding students of Trump University at sites across the country, and settling the lawsuit out of court following his election for $25 million dollars. Five thousand defrauded students are eligible for compensation in the case. _____

67. Repeatedly tweeted strong disfavor with Alec Baldwin for his comedic portrayal of Trump in SNL skits. _____

68. Appointed man with a public record of racism as Attorney General. ____

69. Refused to place Trump businesses into a blind trust, out of the reach of himself and his family, to avoid conflict of interest situations during the term of his Presidency.

* * * * *

Check one:
A. Still a Trump voter. _____
B. No longer a Trump Voter. _____

5. Extra credit: What’s your guess as to the “hidden secret” Will intuits in the first paragraph of this blog entry?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Instructions to Voters Who Didn’t Vote for Trump

After reading Will’s 69 Trump Disqualifications, what number did you reach before deciding that Trump was unqualified to be President? Number: _____ Why is that?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Identify by number the ones on Will’s list of disqualifications that you found most egregious: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Extra credit: What’s your guess as to the “hidden secret” Will intuits in the first paragraph of this blog entry?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

No Response Needed or Requested

It is not necessary to submit your worksheets and answers to me, for reasons I’ll write about in the next blog, and also because this exercise goes by the name of “self-directed learning.” Under that umbrella, the aims, objectives, learning methods, discoveries, judgments, and learning outcomes are yours, and of no business of mine, unless you want help and request feedback. Self-directed Learning is something the learner does. I’m a guide and helper, not an instructor.

It would be wonderful to receive responses in the “comment” section communicating your thoughts in whatever detail you would like to offer them. Scroll down to the “leave a comment” section at the bottom of the blog entry. I will respond. Others might too.

We’d all probably like to know if the puzzling stumper is real, and the hypothesis true. Has anyone changed their mind? Would anyone like to go back, if they could, and change their vote?

An ironic idea occurs to me. If there are Trumpeteers out there who are feeling buyer’s remorse, push the “Like” button! I receive only a couple of likes a year on my blogs. That’s because—I tell myself—my stuff is too serious and grave to like. Who in their right mind would want to admit liking dark thoughts? But who knows, maybe the work is unlikeable for better reasons!

Whatever. Let’s assume that “Like” on this occasion means: Yes, I have changed my mind!

As to the surmise of “a hidden secret,” I will reveal my answer two blogs from now, not next time. Guesses from readers as to what it could be are certainly welcome in the meantime.

Hope you learned something! See you at the next learning lab.

This is the second in a series of essays on the 2016 election.

Will Callender, Jr. ©

December 4, 2016

Author of Abdication: God Steps Down for Good