Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Friday, February 17, 2017

A #MarketPlace For #Fear?

Hey Everyone!!

Something occurred to me the other day that I thought might be worth sharing. The situation in the US seems to get darker and darker as the days progress. People are angry, hurt, and scared. There is civil unrest and have even been isolated incidents of violence. And, of course, all of this centers around Donald Trump, the most unpopular President in US history.

But the question I find myself asking is, why? Why is this orange-faced buffoon, this ignorant man-child with the attention span of a methed-out gnat and the intellectual capacity of your average turnip able to provoke people to such extremes of emotion?  Because that is what's happening.  Whether you're part of the majority of people who are vehemently against Trump or part of the minority who are vehemently for him, it's very unlikely that your feelings on the matter are anything but strong.  But why? Because, on the face of it, Donald Trump is simply not worth all the energy being expended on him.

Well, in my opinion, the reason people are reacting so strongly comes down to this, Donald Trump is a con man, but the snake oil he's selling is something with limited appeal.  So, in an attempt to increase his reach, he's trying to manufacture a market for his product. You see, in order for a con game to work, the con artist needs to appeal to a need or desire that their mark has.

For instance, if you're trying to con people into buying a "miracle cure," you're appealing to their desire to feel better. In the most loathsome examples, your pitch is made to people who are terminally ill and beyond the help of modern medicine. In that case, you're playing on their hope that they can find some way to survive and their fear of death. Ironically, the more desperate a person is, the easier it is to con them. Because desperate people don't think rationally, they react emotionally.

And that's exactly what Donald Trump is trying to do to this country. He needs people to be hysterical, because he wants us jumping before we think. You see, what he's trying to sell us is "safety." Oh, not real safety from actual threats, like poverty, hunger, disease, income inequality, lack of access to medical care, dangerous work environments, etc. No, not at all. Because those are real problems that require complicated solutions that will take a lot of work to implement. And the last thing Donald Trump is interested in is work or actually helping people.

No, what he's trying to do is whip up fear over manufactured threats. I mean, look at the specifics of what he wants to do.  He wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico. But why?  Because Mexican people are a threat to US citizens? Really? Does anyone honestly believe that?  What do you think Mexico is going to do, invade Arizona?  Seriously?  Honestly, people, what the fuck are you afraid of here? In concrete terms, what do you think the actual threat is?

That's not a question that has a rational answer, because there is no actual threat from Mexico or Mexican people. Yes, there are some deranged people who are also Mexican. There are also some deranged people who are also blonde dentists from Chicago. There are some deranged people who are also part of any demographic group you'd care to name, but that doesn't make it rational to fear the entire demographic group. Think about it, it's absurd.

Donald Trump also wants to ban Muslims from entering the US. Again, why?  Because Muslims are a threat?  Really?  A religion with almost two billion followers and they're all a threat?  Every single one of them?  Then why isn't the entire world on fire?  If there were really two billion people bent on annihilating everyone who didn't belong to their religion, I'm pretty sure they'd probably succeed.  The resulting holocaust might take them out too, but if Muslims were really dangerous, we wouldn't be around to debate kicking them out of the country.

Again, yes, there are always the odd individuals in any group who are insane, but that doesn't make the entire group a threat.  No, what Donald Trump is trying to do is make us all believe that there are threats where none exist. Why? Because it's far easier to slay imaginary dragons than real ones. If he succeeds in convincing us that this paper tiger is real, then he gets to be the hero when he comes in and tears it apart.  That's the con he's trying to run on us.

The reason he's getting such a strong reaction is because fear is a visceral emotion. People who are afraid don't think, they react. Which makes them easy to control. If you frighten a herd, you can stampede them over a cliff. Even if there are a few individuals who retain their senses, they'll still be swept away by the mob.

Which isn't to suggest that the real problems I mentioned earlier don't exist, they absolutely do. And what Trump has tried to do is use Muslims, Mexicans, and other minority demographic groups as scapegoats for those real problems. By blaming specific groups for systematic failings, he implies that by eliminating those groups he'll rid the country of the problems. Which is patently absurd but, again, desperate people are easy to manipulate.

Despite that, most people are smart enough to realize that the reason they don't have a job isn't the poor Mexican immigrant who is even worse off financially than them. The majority of people in this country understand that the reason they don't have a job is because the corporations and wealthy elite have rigged the system to make it virtually impossible for the working class to assert our rights. And that's a problem that has nothing to do with the scapegoats Trump came up with.

In an attempt to appeal to people who were smart enough to see through his first deception, Trump tried to convince us that he was a populist leader who wanted to represent the working people in this country.  Of course, since the election, his cabinet picks have proven the lie of that claim, and all he is left with are his scapegoats. Which he is doubling down on.

But Donald Trump miscalculated when he decided on this strategy. He overestimated both his popularity and his powers of persuasion.  Instead of directing all of the fear against others, he ended up with only some of it directed where he wanted it, but most of it directed against himself. He didn't unite the country, he polarized it.

Now, the fear of Donald Trump is at least a fear that makes sense. It's rational to fear what a malignant narcissist in a position of authority might do. But, in order to resist him effectively, we have to also resist our own impulses to react out of that fear. Instead of responding hysterically, we need to mount a calculated, organized opposition to Trump and those who follow him.

Why? Because we can't allow Donald Trump to call the tune that we dance to. If we do, we'll end up dancing the steps he wants us to dance. Instead, what we need to do is remove the market for his product. That fear/safety combo that Trump and his followers are trying to convince us to buy won't work if there's no one who needs what he's selling.

Yes, there are real problems in this country. But fear-mongering about them solves nothing. Real problems have real solutions, and those solutions can be implemented. Instead of trying to make people afraid of the obstacles that we need to overcome, we need to show them productive ways to deal with those obstacles. Because by doing that we give people hope. Real hope, based on concrete actions; not vain hope based on empty promises.

Why? Because if people see realistic plans in action to make their lives better, it will be much harder to convince them to be afraid of shadows or dupe them into chasing pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Most people are smart enough to know the difference when they aren't blinded by desperation.

So, yes, we do oppose Trump's efforts to sell us on his message of fear and hate. Absolutely. But it's important for us to do so with a rational mindset, keeping the end goal in sight. Acting out of fear will only make things worse; we need to act out of reason and a desire to improve the quality of people's lives. Productive solutions and actions that yield benefits are what we need, not hysterical frenzy and random noise. That way, we shut down the market place that Trump is using to pedal his goods. Not by force, but simply because no one will be shopping there anymore.