Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trump and Meaning

"I feel like I don't belong to any world which even fucking matters."
--Jimmy McNulty, Police detective, Baltimore, MD, "The Wire"

After his dinner with the woman who is a political consultant, Jimmy McNulty goes back to riding around Baltimore in his raggedy unmarked car, watching hoppers and corner boys call in orders for drugs and watching drugs sold and he is trying to work up the chain of command to the ultimate drug kingpins.  The feds refuse to divert even the most minimal resources to the drug wars; their new focus is on terrorism.

The feds will not tolerate localities legalizing drugs, but they will devote absolutely no resources to help local cops chase the drug dealers.

Local people are being told, in one way or another, whether they are cops or the dealers the cops are chasing, that their world is unimportant.

As one police sergeant tells a detective who is working on a murder in West Baltimore, "Well, the thing is, he died in a zip code that don't matter." And the sergeant pulls the detective off that case and assigns him another. Nobody cares whether people in that zip code live or die, not even the police.

Then you have a billionaire flying in on his own 747 with his name on it, a new, American king, telling his subjects he cares about them, whether they live in Peoria or rural Pennsylvania.

The life of the citizen in Hatfield, Pennsylvania or West Kingston, Rhode Island, or Buford, Texas is often one of rejection, disappointment and hopelessness. Heroin or Fentanyl may offer some escape, but where politics are concerned, a woman who got chosen for fancy private schools, who married a guy who became President, who played the meritocracy game and won is someone these losers are going to hate, a priori.

Part of the problem may be the experience of so many who feel the very idea of meritocracy is corrupt, a rigged game.  Part of the reason for this is examined by people like Andrew Hacker, in "The Math Myth" in which he examines the way math has been used in perverted ways to deny people from getting qualified from a wide range of jobs as veterinary assistances to electricians, and these experiences engender life long bitterness.

There is nothing more alienating than being told you will have a fair shot, then being given a test which is anything but fair or relevant and being told you failed. Multiply that experience by millions and you have a recipe for discontent, restiveness and outrage.

There were many streams which fed into the raging current which became Trump, but surely alienation from a rigged system of awarding the prizes in this economy has got to be an important stream.

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