The Uncertainty Principle

I’ve been thinking about this for a while:

Trump is an old racist dumbass. I know it’s fashionable to psychoanalyze him but he’s an old racist dumbass who rose to prominence through inherited wealth and a messy divorce. I know 20 of him and so do you. They don’t interact with anyone different from them not because they objectively hate non-white people or would even be rude in person to one, but because they don’t have to interact with them, and if they don’t have to, why should they?


They don’t travel, not even domestically. They don’t seek out information on their own. They’ll call a family member to ask something they could Google in ten seconds. They’ll ask who somebody is on Facebook, where a search box appears six millimeters from where they’re entering the question in their status update. They’re comfortable with media that reinforces what they already think, and they don’t ever put themselves in situations where they’re unsure of where they stand.

They’re terrified of not knowing things.

It’s why the idea of gender fluidity (the whole bathroom thing) makes them insane. They need to be able to put you in a box on sight and feel threatened when they can’t. It’s why all their stories about race relations start with “this one guy I KNOW” because evidence doesn’t exist. Everything is personal experience, because learning requires vulnerability.

It’s why they don’t have dinner with women who aren’t their wives, not because women are evil temptresses and they’re uncontrollable sex monsters, but because they’re not certain of what to do in that situation. They need to know The Rules. It’s the moral panics of the last 50 years, distilled down to one man.

Of course he deserves a medal for eating dinner in a strange place where he doesn’t speak the dominant language. If most of his voters did that, they’d feel unbearably exotic, and talk about it forever like they were Shackleton at the Pole. This is how most of them act about going to a new grocery store, come on.

This isn’t me saying you simply must go to Europe (or eat fancy lunch meat, Bobo). There are plenty of places I haven’t been and plenty more I would honestly be nervous about going. Every single day of my life I panic about learning an entirely new skill set and spend a good 20 minutes hiding in the bathroom trying not to hyperventilate.

To exist in the world right now requires a shitload of learning and catching up and a hell of a lot of straight white people who are now being confronted with other perspectives and slapped down a lot. Living in the world requires you, in a way it didn’t once upon a time, to be very very comfortable with being uncertain.

And along comes Trump, who says I’m gonna make America certain again.

It’s racist and it’s dumb, but mostly it’s just old. And I know, #NotAllOldPeople, but really, #LotsAndLotsOfOldPeople, right now. I hear people my own goddamn age (and I am tail end of Gen X, whippersnappers) complaining about smart mouths on young girls and pretending we can’t wrap our heads around a gender-neutral artist or two and basically acting like it’s the world’s problem that we’re tired.

It’s not the world’s problem that we’re tired and that some of us are old. It’s just the way things go. Plenty of old people (GODDAMN, JIMMY CARTER) are still finding ways to work and contribute and push and change and make things better. I would be a lot more understanding of this desire to lay down the burden of uncertainty if there weren’t so many examples of people saying fuck that, while I’ve got breath in me I’m gonna fight.

Even if I don’t know everything. Even if I’m tired. Even if I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit. Even if it’s mind-boggling to me that we have managed to find someone worse than George W. Bush, worse than Richard Nixon. Even if I’d rather be watching old TV shows from the early 2000s because that’s when shit made sense. So many people aren’t taking the opportunity of their own uncertainty to hate what they don’t know. So many people are standing up to their own fears and those of others.

Trump sat down in an unfamiliar situation. Go on with your bad self, Donald. We’ll be standing up in one until you’re gone.



3 thoughts on “The Uncertainty Principle

  1. There is a perfect certainty in DEATH.

    Perhaps the “old racist dumbasses” should give it a try.

  2. Excellent–smart, funny, astute. But I would add that Trump is, before and after everything else, a salesman. He partakes of the capitalist custom (if not rule) that you can lie or cheat or exaggerate in service of the sale. His appeal to others may be that he embodies what the writer properly says is an era before endless change and, thus, endless uncertainty. But his shamelessness in doing so is a salesman’s shamelessness. And the others to whom that appeals are too frightened, angry, or ignorant to see the shuck for what it is.

  3. They think they’re covered. But given what is happening in government, one day they’ll face a problem, crisis or tragedy and discover there use to be a law, regulation, tax credit or program that would have helped them. (yeah we use to inspect carnival rides, but then trump, so what ya gonna do…). I want to see that realization grind through their minds. I hope at 3AM on a sleepless night, they get it. But I suspect it’ll travel their synapses and come out…”Why Didn’t the Democrats, Stop Them?”

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