The One Way to Resist Trump’s Shock Politics and Win Back the World We Really Want

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, it’s becoming clear that Donald Trump has not delivered on the promises that got him elected. Some still hope that he will “make America great again.” But the key promises that got him elected were these:

  • Make America safe.
  • Create jobs and get more people working.
  • Replace Obamacare with a better health plan.

There is no evidence that he has delivered on these promises or that he intends to do so. What he has delivered on is his promise to enrich the CEOs of corporate America, starting with himself and his family.

I’m reading Naomi Klein’s new book, No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. More than anyone I know, she helps us understand the Trump phenomenon, to place it in its proper historical context, and more importantly to show how to keep Trump’s brand of disaster politics from sucking the air out of our collective lungs.

When I read her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism it brought clarity to much of the chaos in the world that I felt unable to understand or make sense of. It became clear, for instance, that Hurricane Katrina was less a national disaster, than a Corporate opportunity to enrich itself. Following Katrina, New Orleans’s residents, many of them poor, were scattered throughout the country. Rather than seeing their communities rebuilt, they saw them being replaced. The rich got richer and the poor got removed. [Read more…]

Waking Up From the Nightmare: Why America Will Come Together After Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump Is Elected President

photo-1455215540020-876b3233799fMost everyone agrees that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. Whoever gets elected a large proportion of the population will be more afraid than they are now. Some will be so afraid of the consequences they will consider leaving the country. Some will actually leave.

Fearful people often become aggressive and look for someone to attack. We’ve seen that kind of violence against police officers as well as violence perpetrated by police officers. Fear and anger also leads to terrorist attacks, bullying, and aggression towards “outsiders.” It also leads to the kind of shaming and blaming we’ve experienced during this long election cycle.

Meanwhile the major problems we face continue to get worse:

  • Global warming and climate change produces more draughts and heat waves.
  • Population increase puts greater pressure on limited resources.
  • Conflicts and wars cause more destruction and displacement.
  • Refugees flee their lands and create additional fear as they seek safe havens.
  • Extreme capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but has devastated the planet and failed to improve the lives of many.
  • Environmental degradation and loss of species threats the foundations of a stable ecosystem.
  • Overt and institutional racism undermines our shared humanity.
  • Sexism creates distrust between men and women and keeps our economic and political systems from being as effective as they could be.

We could add additional major problems we’re concerned about. But let’s be honest, how many of us feel confident that, given the state of our divided country, these problems are likely to be addressed constructively if either candidate is elected?

In fact, a recent Pew survey of a large sampling of both Republicans and Democrats found that few are excited about the prospects of either candidate getting elected.

  • Just 11% of all registered voters say they would be excited if Trump wins.
  • 26% say they would be relieved.
  • A majority say they would be disappointed (34%) or angry (25%).
  • Just 12% overall would be excited if Clinton wins.
  • 36% would be relieved.
  • Nearly half would be disappointed (29%) or angry (20%).

It’s no wonder that more and more people suffer from anxiety, depression and Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS). But what underlies all these problems? I believe it’s the feeling that things are out of control and we feel helpless to solve any of the real problems that threaten our peace and well-being. It’s why so many people are willing to take a chance on electing Donald Trump. And although it’s easy for many people to demonize Donald Trump, and easy for others to demonize Secretary Clinton, it really does little to solve our problems.

The Real Problems Facing America and the World

There are two underlying problems that we need to understand if we are going to actually solve our problems, not make them worse. The first is that things are changing so rapidly our brains are constantly on overload. The second is that the world has become so complex we can’t really figure out how to fix things. We have become “strangers in a strange land.” We feel we’re on a run-away train heading over a cliff.
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Who Do You Trust to Be Our Next President?

President Trust picWhen the election season began most people believed that Hillary Clinton would be one of the final three still in the race in May, 2016. Few people thought that Bernie Sanders would be in the picture and a viable candidate to win the Democratic nomination. Fewer still thought that Donald Trump would be scowling out at us as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

Although I think Donald Trump would be the worst choice the American people could make as our next president, I suggested in a recent article that there were a number of reasons he was garnering as much attention and votes as he has thus far:

  1. Our Presidential Candidates Reflect the View We Hold of Ourselves.

I suggested that many Americans have a feeling that the world we are creating for our children, grandchildren, and future generations is profoundly damaged and we don’t feel kindly towards ourselves. As Charles Eisenstein says in his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, “Who could have foreseen, two generations ago when the story of progress was strong, that the twenty-first century would be a time of school massacres, of rampant obesity, of growing indebtedness, of pervasive insecurity, of intensifying concentration of wealth, of unabated world hunger, and of environmental degradation that threatens civilization?”

It’s no wonder that rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, particularly among older, white males. Further, more and more people are suffering from chronic pain and are overdosing on pain medications.

When we’re depressed and in pain we don’t always make good choices, in our own lives and in our choices for President. [Read more…]

The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President

5439999805_474811d69f_zA lot of people who identify as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents don’t want Donald Trump to be our next President. Yet, millions of men and women continue to vote for him despite unfavorable ratings that continue to climb. For the first time in more than 30 years of the ABC News/Washington Post poll’s history, Donald Trump earned the highest unfavorable rating among Americans as a front-running candidate in a presidential election, just barely falling behind the unfavorable rating of David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, when he ran for office during the 1992 election.

Mr. Trump received an unfavorable rating by 67 percent of Americans surveyed in the ABC/Washington Post poll released April 14, 2016, which is unprecedented for a leading candidate during an election season. The only other time a candidate saw such strong dislike during an election, was Duke who was rated unfavorably by 69 percent of Americans in an ABC/Post poll in February 1992. Unlike Trump, Duke was not successful in his campaign, winning fewer than 120,000 votes and zero delegates in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump has currently won more than 8 million votes in pursuit of the GOP nomination.

It should be noted that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, also has a very high unfavorable rating. Hillary Clinton was seen unfavorably by 52 percent in an ABC/Post poll last month, 2 percentage points from her worst, 54 percent unfavorable rating in April, 2008. That was the highest unpopularity in ABC/Post polling for any Democratic Party candidate in an election year, albeit still far lower than Mr. Trump’s.

How do we account for millions of people voting for candidates who are seen so negatively? Why do I think Donald Trump may be our next President? What would have to change in the U.S. to keep Mr. Trump from being elected? And most importantly what would have to change in the U.S. to have people in office that reflects the best in us, not the worst? [Read more…]

How Long Would Trump Have Lasted as a Presidential Candidate Had He Been a Woman?

5440384453_4669d0096b_zAs we move more deeply into the election season, it becomes evident that we are a deeply divided country. Government is gridlocked and the private sector does what it does best—makes more and more money for those who already have a lot of money. But there is one thing everyone seems to agree on. This is an election like no other in modern history.

CNN says, “This presidential cycle has been full of twists and turns, but there’s been one constant: Conventional wisdom has been dead wrong.” We see this most clearly in the continuing popularity of Donald Trump in spite of his outrageous rhetoric including the following:

  • “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”
  • “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
  • “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.”
  • “I would bomb the sh– out of them. I would just bomb those suckers, and that’s right, I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.”
  • “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
  • “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”

These kinds of statements repulse many. As a trauma-informed therapist they are red flags of a person who has suffered serious abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Could you imagine a female presidential candidate getting away with these kinds of statements? It’s difficult to even contemplate.

But Frank Bruni expands our thinking in a New York Times Op Ed column, “If Donald Trump Changed Genders:”

“Imagine for a moment, the presidential candidacy of a rich, brash real estate magnate and reality TV star named Donna Trump,” says Bruni. [Read more…]

Why Bernie Will Win: We’ve All Been Screwed and We’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

21581179719_571bb5a7ab_zWhen I first heard that Bernie Sanders was running for President, I didn’t know much about him or what he stands for. As I learned more I realized this is finally someone who believes in supporting the 99% of us (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others) and not the 1% or of those who have money and power in the U.S. Once I understood what he believes in and has practiced his whole life, I felt bad that he didn’t have any chance to win. It seemed to be Hillary’s time and having a woman President might be a positive change to the good-old boys network that has ruled the presidency since the beginning.

One of the people whose perspective I respect is Thom Hartmann a well-known radio commentator and author of such diverse books as The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, Walking Your Blues Away: How to Heal the Mind and Create Emotional Well-Being (the most innovative books on treating ADHD, depression, and other mood disorders), and his most recent book, The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America–and What We Can Do to Stop It. In that book he surfaces what more and more people know to be true. Our country is in real trouble and we need real change if we’re going to come out of our downward death spiral. (On this point, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are in full agreement).

Here’s what Hartmann says in the Introduction to The Crash Of 2016, “The United States is more vulnerable today than ever before-including during the Great Depression and the Civil War-because the pillars of democracy that once supported a booming middle class have been corrupted, and without them, America teeters on the verge of the next Great Crash.” Here’s what he has to say about why he thinks Bernie will win.

If anyone has ever had to deal with a major chronic illness, we know that it’s hard to have energy for anything else when we’re in pain and our lives are overwhelmed just getting through the day. Looking honestly at the state of our country’s health, we have to conclude, as a people, we’re pretty sick. [Read more…]

Economic Localization—Looking Back, Looking Forward

LocalizationI still remember meeting Dr. Jason Bradford on October 18, 2004 when he organized a showing of the film “End of Suburbia” at the Willits Environmental Center. About 20 people came, including the mayor, another city council member, and a local reporter. After the film we sat in a large circle and had a lengthy, sometimes heated, discussion.

Jason had moved to Willits in August, 2004, along with his wife Kristin and their 6-year old twin boys. Before moving to Willits Bradford had been a highly mobile tropical biologist, but had become disillusioned by the failure of various institutions he worked with to initiate any long lasting, fundamental changes related to the realities of climate change and the impact of “peak oil” on communities throughout the world.

Following the initial positive response to the film, other meetings were held with ever larger numbers attending. On November 23, 2004, 90 people showed up at the Willits high-school cafeteria.  The group was divided roughly in half between those who wanted to watch the movie and those wanting to start “doing something.” There was a need for an organization and groups to study different issues including Food, Water, Energy, Shelter, Transportation, Security, Local Currency, Education, Politics and Governance, Community Farm and Ecovillage, Funding, etc.

Soon Willits Economic Localization (WELL) came into being and is still going strong, even after Jason and his family moved to Oregon to continue to expand and deepen their work. Speakers, from inside and outside the area, have come over the years including: Richard Heinberg, Ann Hancock, Gloria & Steve Decater, and John Jeavons. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Achieve Peak Prosperity as We Face the Biggest Economic, Environmental, and Energy Transformation of All Times

change machineAs Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a-changin’.” Indeed they are, big time. We are facing the biggest crisis in human history as we deal with our economy, environment, and energy use. Although we face great danger, there is also great opportunity. We often experience the impact of change through illness and pain—everything from Alzheimer’s and depression to anger and arthritis are on the rise.

In 1993 I participated in a Native American sweat lodge ceremony. During the sweat lodge I had a vision where I saw the sinking of the “Ship of Industrial Civilization” and the emergence of “Life Boats to a New Way of Life.” Since that time I’ve gotten a clearer understanding of the reality of this change and how we can all find our lifeboats, get on board, and create a new way of life that is more sustainable and satisfying than anything the world has ever known.

  1. Recognize the Opportunity Within the Crisis

If a raging tiger broke into our yard, we’d immediately recognize the danger and run for our lives or fight to survive. But economic, environmental, and energy changes occur slowly enough that our brain doesn’t register them. We have to use our creative imaginations to see the danger we are in.

In his book and video series, The Crash Course, economic researcher and futurist Chris Martenson describes the three major forces that are impacting our future: Economy, Energy, and Environment, how these big three Es interact, and how they determine our prosperity or decline.

Our Industrial Civilization has been driven by the use of more and more of the Earth’s resources.  As Richard Heinberg points out in his book Peak Everything, our use of fossil fuels is damaging the environment and we’re reaching the end of “cheap oil” that drives our energy economy. But if we understand the trends and address them wisely, Martenson and Heinberg believe we can move towards Peak Prosperity. [Read more…]

The Simple Solution the Richest 1% Hope You’ll Never Find

 

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that we humans in the world are experiencing some serious problems.  Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, two research scientists working through The Equality Trust in the U.K., have identified the following fourteen problems and one simple solution.  When I first read about their work in their book, The Spirit Level:  Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, I was immediately interested.

The fourteen problems they identified for study include the following:

  1. Physical health—Too many people die too young from diseases that could be prevented.
  2. Mental health—Too many people suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental ills.
  3. Drug abuse—Too many people abuse drugs and many die before their time.
  4. Education—Too many children leave school too soon and others stay, but do poorly.
  5. Imprisonment—Too many people are in prison and prison does little good to prevent future crime.
  6. Obesity—Too many children and adults are overweight and suffer many ailments, including diabetes, as a result.
  7. Equal opportunity—Too many people feel locked into the lower classes with no way to escape.
  8. Trust in community—Too many people divide the world between “us” and “them” and fear there is not enough of us and too many of them.
  9. Violence—Too many people live with the fear of violence, both in their home, in their communities, and in the world.
  10. Teenage Births—Too many young males and females are bringing children into the world, while they are children themselves.
  11. Child health—Too many children die young or fail to thrive and grow in health.
  12. The end of growth—It used to be true that economic growth was good and more was better.  But too many people live as through we could grow without limit, even though we live on a finite planet.
  13. Foreign aid—Too many people suffer because too many rich countries give too little to aid to others.
  14. Climate change—Too many people in the world face calamity as we continue to heat our planet and weather becomes increasingly weird.

The Simple Solution to Many of Our Most Difficult Problems 

After years of research Wilkinson and Pickett have found that all these problems can be improved if we narrowed the income gap between the rich and the poor.  The following diagram shows the health and well-being of those in wealthy countries on the vertical axis and income inequality on the horizontal.  As you see the USA has the highest level of social problems and also has the highest level of income inequality.


Evidence shows that:

1) In rich countries, a smaller gap between rich and poor means a happier, healthier, and more successful population. Just look at the US, the UK, Portugal, and New Zealand in the top right of this graph, doing much worse than Japan, Sweden or Norway in the bottom left.

2) Meanwhile, more economic growth will NOT lead to a happier, healthier, or more successful population. In fact, there is no relation between income per head and social well-being in rich countries.

3) If the US were to reduce income inequality to something like the average of the four most equal of the rich countries (Japan, Norway, Sweden and Finland) evidence shows we could expect the following:

    • Trust within the population would rise by 75%;
    • Mental illness and obesity would be cut by two thirds;
    • Teen births could be more than halved;
    • Prison populations could be reduced by 75%;
    • People could live longer while working the equivalent of two months less per year.

4) It’s not just people in poorer communities who would do better. The evidence suggests people all the way up would benefit, although it’s true that the poorest would gain the most.

5) These findings hold true, whether you look across developed nations, or across the 50 states of the USA.

Dr. Wilkinson offers a compelling summary of years of research at a recent TED talk.

The Rich Are Getting Richer But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

In the introduction to The Spirit Level:  Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, Robert B. Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, says “Most American families are worse off today than they were three decades ago.  The Great Recession of 2008-2009 destroyed the value of their homes, undermined their savings, and too often left them without jobs.

“But even before the Great Recession began, most Americans had gained little from the economic expansion that began almost three decades before.  Today, the Great Recession notwithstanding, the U.S. economy is far larger than it was in 1980.  But where has all the wealth gone?  Mostly to the very top.  The latest data shows that by 2007, America’s top 1 percent of earners received 23% of the nation’s total income—almost triple their 8% share in 1980.”

Martin Luther King said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  As Bob Dylan reminded us “the times they are a changin.’”

Look over the list of problems such as poor physical health, poor mental health, drug abuse, obesity, violence, etc.  Which ones are you most concerned about?  Would you be willing to work to reduce income inequality if these problems could be significantly improved?

Photo Credit: impeachthem.com CreativeCommons