Featuring essays by Elizabeth George on the future of our country
HOME 
A LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
MEA CULPA
GIVE THE GOP A LANDSLIDE VICTORY
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART II
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART I
MONEY GRUBBING FEMALES, UNITE!
WE AREN’T ELECTING A HOMECOMING QUEEN
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
THE TOOTSIE ISSUE
Toddlers 4 President!
CRYING BABIES AND OTHER PRESSING MATTERS OF STATE
Democratic Convention 2016: How It Might Have Been
I’D LIKE TO FEEL THE BERN, ONLY…
AN UNFORTUNATE REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
On Matters of the Lie, the War, and Judgment
EGO, POLITICS, AND THE PRESIDENCY
On Getting What We Deserve
HOW JANUARY 2017 WILL LOOK
Return to Main Website
 


THE TOOTSIE ISSUE


For a little more than ten years, I lived down the street from a woman I’ll call Tootsie. She had a lovely home that would have been lovelier had it not been overly filled with objects: crystal chandeliers, ornate furniture, collectables on nearly every surface, a dining table that was constantly set with china, silver, and Waterford goblets, photographic portraits of herself, her children, and herself with husband and children, even an authentic popcorn cart in her family room. In mink jacket and black pearls, she walked her dog in the evenings. In her front yard was displayed over the years a growing panoply of garden ornaments, benches, fountains and lighting fixtures. It was an unusual collection of goods that at first I didn’t understand. As I came to know her a little better and as I met her extended family, I could see that, having grown up in circumstances in which these kinds of things were beyond her reach, she was determined to fill a well of emptiness that she believed the absence of ownership had left within her. It was as if all her possessions said to the world “This is who I am”, without her being able to understand that who she was would always be unrelated to what she owned.

Marketing experts in a capitalist economy serve the interests of the companies they work for by making people believe—through advertising—that they will be different, they will feel different, they will appear different to others if only…And we are meant to complete that subordinate clause: if only I owned that Porsche, if only I could drive that Mercedes Benz, if only I lived on the golf course, if only I had perfect skin, if only I lost fifty pounds with this new diet system, if only I bought this new skin product that swears I will lose every line on my face. If only. Each time we go for it with “if only” as our reason, we attempt to fill an empty place within us that cannot be filled by possessions or by anything that is not learned wisdom and tranquility. And we all have empty places because it’s impossible not to have them unless one has attained enlightenment, which is a steep challenge for most of us.

Having watched and listened and thought about Donald Trump for many months now, I’ve come to believe that he is—for whatever reason—a man of profound emptiness, unaware of how his actions have attempted for years to fill him up. But because the manner in which he has attempted to fill himself up cannot actually do the job and because he hasn’t been able to understand the why behind his behavior, he has continued along the same path, reaching higher and higher for more and more, satisfied for a moment or a day or a month, only to feel empty once again. This, of course, is the problem with attempting to fill internal emptiness with external goods. One feels a momentary satisfaction only. Soon enough the emptiness returns because an external object cannot ever define the being that resides inside a person.

His penthouse inside Trump Tower in New York City is a good example of this. With its gold furniture and golden pillars and sumptuous decorations, it is more than a monument to execrable taste. It also serves as testimony to Mr. Trump’s emptiness as well as in indication of how Mr. Trump truly feels about himself. It shouts. It demands, “See? See who I am? See what I have achieved? See how rich I am?” In doing this, it gives him permission to be nothing, actually, and least of all a person of substance. He is Ozymandias made flesh before us.

When people lack substance, they seek something else to put it its place. In Donald Trump’s case, his name upon buildings, hotels, and golf courses as well as packages of meat, bottles of water and wine, baseball caps, and other assorted Trumpernalia have long stood in place of his having a core. This is one of the reasons he “sells” his name, allowing it to be put on structures with which he isn’t personally associated. The more he is known, the better he feels, the more filled up, the less empty. Additionally, garnering attention in various ways has always shored him up: from his early declarations to the media in his younger years that he just “might run for President” to his snatching at opportunities for publicity during the last eight years with his various demands that President Obama prove his citizenship.

Donald Trump’s run for the Presidency of the United States has served as another way to fill the empty spots inside of him. Night after night he has been featured on the news. Morning after morning, his phone calls have been taken by talk shows. Day after day his tweets have received national coverage by various journalists. All of this has allowed him to feel whole at the same time as it has also allowed him to wear the guise of a person of substance. Indeed, we who have watched him lo these many months have created the monster that we see before us now.

People will argue that Donald Trump has only given voice to what “some kinds” of people have been thinking all along, and this is true. But in giving it voice, Mr. Trump has tacitly promoted racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and ignorance by letting it be known that it has only been “political correctness” that has kept people silent for so long. What has been unleashed as a result, is an underbelly of American citizenry the exposure of which to the light of day has diminished the very purpose for which that the United States of America was created in the first place at the same time as it has damaged the electoral process in ways that might well be beyond recovery.

I cast my first vote for President forty-six years ago. In the elections before I was old enough to vote and in all the elections since I have been a voter, I have never seen anything that remotely compares to what I’m seeing now. For while I did not like nor did I vote for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush, at least those individuals stood for something, no matter the degree to which I disagreed with them. But Mr. Trump stands for nothing save his own desperate need to be—at long last—a complete person in his own eyes. The problem with this approach to meeting what is in reality a psychological need is that achieving the ultimate goal of the Presidency is very much like purchasing the ultimate automobile. The fulfillment he will feel if he wins the election will be fleeting only. He can listen to the Marine Corps Band play “Hail to the Chief” till hell freezes over, but it simply will not change who he is at the heart of who he has always been.



- Elizabeth George
Whidbey Island
Washington State

 

 
 

Site Copyright 2016 Elizabeth George
Site Designed and Maintained by
Dovetail Studio