Home | About | Donate

Beyond Trump: The Politics of Courage


Beyond Trump: The Politics of Courage

Robert C. Koehler

If Donald Trump can thrive politically by throwing meat to the American id, what else is possible? How about the opposite?


By design or not, Trump is serving as Antithesis writ large in the Hegelian dialectic. Have to give him that.


Trump is a flawed vessel, but he is exposing the hypocrisy and corruption in the plutocracy.


For all of Trumps ugly and inflammable rhetoric he is doing what no one has been able to do to the GOP. Trump has managed to expose it for what it is! And that has his fellow candidates and the power elite in the party terrified because no one owns him. No one can tell him: " tone down your rhetoric or we will cut your funding, you are hurting our image and it has to stop"! And now he has the GOP between a rock and a hard place because he is holding the sword of Damocles over their heads with the threat of a third party ticket if he feels he is not treated fairly. That would be a sure win for the Democrats.


I think you mean a sword of Damocles. There's a wonderful book by James Baldwin, no less, called "Anchor Book of Famous Stories" from the 60's, long out of print, as far as I can tell, with a concise and very elegant, pointed telling of this tale. Such a sword hangs glintingly over every baron in this world of billions of impoverished.


I always enjoy Robert Koehler's pieces. He recognizes what so many fail to see--that if we are ever going to transcend the barbarism of our times, we will have to commit to a spiritual, as well as political, revolution. By "spiritual revolution" I mean that we have to embrace a transformative vision of personal and social ethics. In my experience, not too many people are fully aware of how corrupted we all are by our sick capitalist system, with its generation of War and Empire. Capitalism is in our dreams, our nightmares, our desires and memories; capitalism is the evil angel on our shoulder whispering in our ear that we ought always to do the wrong thing, because it is the easiest.

How easy it is for most of us to walk past a distressed homeless person on the cold city streets!

How easy it is for many of us to turn to our own navel as a means of avoiding looking at this vile and violent world!

I agree with Koehler that a "politics of courage" is desperately needed. We have to find the moral strength to take back our souls from the various prisons of orthodoxy and social conformity. Racism, sexism, homophobia, blind patriotism--all these things should be categorically rejected, as being unworthy of brave and generous human beings who have no need for scapegoating or for pyrrhic feelings of superiority. It's hard enough going being an ordinary human person, what with sickness, unhappiness, frustration and death as normal factors of the human condition. So who are these people who need to feel like demi-gods, who need to put their foot on the necks of others, to know that they are alive? Such people are often loud and belligerent. But they are really pathetic moral cowards. Their patron saint is George W. Bush, a trivial, insipid and stupid boor, who has few virtues worth respecting, but who used his power, recklessly and cruelly, to create Hell on Earth.

The cowards run the world. They are afraid of complexity, ambiguity, communication. They prefer simple ideas, absolute certainty and brute force. They are most at home in war. They only know how to destroy. They do not have the courage to admit that their approach is wrong. They refuse to listen to wise counsel or moral argument. They go on destroying, and never lose sleep, even when tens of thousands of children number among their victims. These people are a curse to the world.

And now comes Donald Trump, the American Mussolini, barking nonsense and hate, appealing to all that is worst in some Americans. Trump must be the most unimaginative politician of recent times: all he can offer is the tired old narratives of fascist renewal: "make America great," "send the Mexicans home," "bomb the shit out of ISIS," "ban all the Muslims," etc, etc. It's like listening to every right-wing blowhard you've ever heard, shooting off his mouth at the local bar. Trump has nothing to offer his deluded supporters. Nothing at all. His campaign is nothing more than cliché, platitude and hateful dogma. Trump is really offering a kind of religion (so very American!), and certain people are buying because they want to be saved.

The great tragedy is many of Trump's supporters are lower class, uneducated white men. These people have suffered greatly at the hands of rich capitalists like Trump, but now they want one of their tormentors to save them. Who says that God does not have a sense of irony?

Imagine if Trump's supporters entered into a dialogue with those whom they hate. Perhaps the haters would come to see that they are in the same boat as the hated. If Trump could not call upon hate, he would have nothing to say. He would be the emperor without clothes. Trump is really a nobody. It's the misguided gaze of others that make him a somebody. We have to encourage people to look away...


Thanks for the spelling correction.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.



Thank you. Superb comment!


"To grow spiritually . . . " is obviously something that thousands of years of mono-theism, not to mention other religious traditions, despite their claims, have failed to accomplish for the human condition. I just have to wonder, when religion can't even agree with itself what spirituality is, how that new growth is going to happen of take place with the necessary authority to effect any progressive change? Or is our wish for spirituality just an ideal, like so many others that humanity dreams of but is unable to realize, no more then a reflection of the limitations of our species rooted in a materialist, evolutionary paradigm.


Hmmm, "Politics of courage" - first heard that phrase from Stein - we have to turn from a "politics of fear" to a "politics of courage" - which means many things, what the author refers to as well as a refusal to settle for the LOTE ... which, when you come down to it, amounts to the same thing, especially when you consider the FP of the candidates .... but, as he also said, "Questions of war and peace, among much else, have been utterly off the table, with any serious questioning of U.S. militarism ignored and belittled ..."

"The Republicrats rule and war is no longer merely inevitable but eternal."

Republicrats - yup, the media, and apparently not only the "MSM", are not the only ones who have taken it "off the table" ....


The politics of courage? Ha! No sign anywhere of that! What we have instead is the politics of cowardice.


I think it's by design: he's doing what no "liberal" could do, i.e., expose the true colors of Empire. I don't believe he's at heart a neo-Nazi and all that.


Does god exist? I don't know, but he [she, it] would love to if clergy would let him, her, or it.

I wonder about how many american voters trump speaks for? Is it 50mn, 100mn, or 150mn?
Before further commenting i need to know for how many blacks, latinos, white, white jews, israelis trump speaks?


The American left has been nothing but courage. Who do you think exposes the bullshit and organizes movements and go face to face with the police state? Wasn't Reagan or Cruz or any of their supporters. Chesley Manning , Snowden and the other whistle-blower just like Daniel Elsberg are courageous as any other hero.Courage is admired cowardness never is.


That's been my read--or at least hope--for a while, now. In a very strange sort of way, he may see his patriotic duty as using his larger-than-life persona to hold a mirror to the myriad nut bags that dwell amongst our midsts.


this morning, (saturday 12-12), i ran across the following comment in a trump discussion on truth dig,

It is interesting that his last name is Trump. Jung talked about symbolism and language having a lot of importance. Will the Trump Card win to destroy both parties in order to get a more humane system? The jury is still out on that.

i told 'cloudchopper' that she's in very good company and referred her to this article.


Spirituality might be regarded as the Democratic form of seeking contact or a connection with the numinous. Religion is based on orthodoxy and typically top-down patriarchal carrots, sticks, punishments, and rewards.

As a writer, I can tell you that 25 years ago, the word Spirituality meant approaches to the great meaning of life that were not conformed to traditional religions or their codes of conduct or ruling ethos.

But just as the religious right made major inroads into controlling portions of govt., the military, the education system, and whole aspects of the American dialectic, it also coopted the TERM Spirituality; and this is made evident in a cursory review of the writer's ultimate publishing guide: The Writer's Guide Text.

Christian publishing is a multi-billion dollar business and it coopted the term spirituality to represent its own narrow constructs.

Spirituality is anathema to orthodox religion. Only the rare few can fly over the cuckoo's nest of schools of thought based on sin, prejudicing one group over another, and too often using the Bible as a basis for decreeing war and violence.

Once hunger, the need for shelter, and the means for both are secured... (where possible, love-based ties and family are also established), it's part of the Human Program to search for meaning... what does this thing called life mean and what is its purpose.

Religions have arrogated to themselves the right to answer that question and most have horrific histories when it comes to how they dealt with heretics or any who dared to question the orthodoxy. That type of curtailment of inquiry stultifies the spiritual quest since mystics believe that a process of continuous spiritual evolution runs parallel with the biological equivalent.

Religious fealty tends to abort that process of unchecked growth.


The question is how 'spirituality' however 'regarded' in any form, particularly independent of any new moral insight and fealty, can contribute to any new progress for our species?