What to Read While Waiting for Trump’s Comeuppance

Great piece by Rebecca Solnit. The Loneliness of Donald Trump. On the corrosive privilege of the most mocked man in the world

I have often run across men (and rarely, but not never, women) who have become so powerful in their lives that there is no one to tell them when they are cruel, wrong, foolish, absurd, repugnant.

Solnit talks about not just Trump, but the people like him who live in a world without honest mirrors.

I’ve worked with and trained smart people who have become some of the richest, most powerful people in the world –Brin, Page, Musk, Sandburg, Mayer and many others. One of the reasons they got to where they are is the people around them (usually women, professional communicators) knew these people needed to see how they were coming across to others. Obliviousness could end up hurting them professionally (and often personally) unless they dealt with it.  These women brought me and my training partners in to hold up a mirror to these people and say, ‘This is how you come across to the media, to investors, to employees. Is that really what you want?”

Dave, one of my training partners, used to quote Emerson to them:

“What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”

As people get more and more powerful, it can become harder for them to listen to and accept what others say, especially if they don’t see the person as an equal, someone worth listening too. More from Solnit’s piece.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation.

The right wing radio and tv hosts gave an entire group of people a lying voice to internalize and then permission to, as Janeane Garofalo put it, “Bring out their inner asshole.” Tim, one of my best friends back on Vulcan had a response to the phrase, “If you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?” It was, ‘If you are so rich why aren’t you nice?”

I’ve been instrumental in the financial destruction of the right wing media’s advertising revenue stream, which lead to the ousting of some of their biggest names. I’ve very proud of that, and while it is satisfying to see them get their comeuppance, during the time prior to their fall they spread hate, envy and anger. This is the right wing strategy and it is a national tragedy. I just wish my friends and I could have made it happen faster.

During this time I’ve learned there is more to the phrase “Speaking truth to power” than most people realize. Power usually doesn’t want to hear your truth. And, contrary to schoolyard wisdom, when you stand up to a powerful bully they don’t just back down. They fight back, often with lawyers, guns and money. So you must persist.

One of the things that I’ve learned is that even powerful people need allies. People who get something in exchange for their help. We focus on Trump because he is the face of this coalition of craven allies. But if those allies see the cost of support is greater than the benefit, they will find an excuse to walk away.

Before we alerted the advertisers that the cost of sponsoring right wing media was greater than the benefit, the RW media distributors made a lot of money. We gave advertisers an excuse to walk away, ‘The hosts are tainting our brand.” Later, we gave media institutional investors an excuse to push the hosts off radio and TV. “We aren’t making enough money on them this quarter.”

The media should now ask Trump’s allies,”Is the cost of supporting Trump greater than the benefit?” If yes, what are you going to do about it?

Read the whole piece. It’s great.

BTW, Mrs. Spocko spotted Solnit grocery shopping the other day. I wish I had run into her after I had read this piece. I would tell her how spot on it is. I would also ask her if she has tried the bulk curry (which is wonderful) or the chocolate almond milk ice cream, since I like to share the things I love with my fellow Americans, no matter what side of the aisle they are on.

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