Tag Archives: Donald Trump

A Letter from Mallika Chopra: After Election Day

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Last night, around 9:30pm (LA time) when it was clear Trump would win, I sat in bed with my girls as they both cried. They are 14 and 12 and completely engaged in politics and the world. They were hurt, scared, confused. How could this happen? What will happen to women, immigrants, Muslims? Are we going to move? It took everything in me to assure them it will be ok. We have checks and balances in this country. I ended up just going to bed with them, and skipping the remaining results. This morning, we woke up to tears once again knowing this is our reality.

But we made a commitment, before getting ready for school, that we will not to engage in the hysteria. We are going to keep the tvs off. We are keeping our schedules today. We are not talking about moving. We are focusing on family, friends, school, work.

And as the reality of this new world settles (which truly affects the whole world), we will do our part to stand up. We will strive to be more compassionate and understanding, but also strong and bold about living every day with intent and purpose.

Mallika Chopra, Founder of Intent.com

My 14 Year Old Daughter Is Asking You To Vote

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To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Tara, and I am fourteen years old. Today, I ask of you a simple task: on Tuesday, November 8th (or before if you can), go out and vote for not only your country’s President, but arguably one of the most powerful people in the world.

I am not going to avoid saying this either. I honestly hope you vote for Hillary Clinton.

I cannot vote, but if you can, I urge you to take advantage of a constitutional right that our founding fathers gave us 200 years ago. Not voting is a direct translation of not caring who the next President of your country is, and it does not matter if your favored candidate did not win the primaries, or you strongly dislike Clinton, Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein. You have to picture who would be best sitting in the Oval Office next January, and you have to put their name on the ballot. It’s essential because that is the way our country works.

I am a girl living in Los Angeles. I am surrounded by people of all genders, religions, backgrounds, skin colors, and ideals. Depending on who you elect to the White House, some of those people or all of those people will be represented in our government. I know its hard – this election seems like a joke to many adults, and I know it is painstakingly hard not to laugh when my teachers discuss what a candidate said at the last debate or rallying speech, but its also important to realize that this election is not a joke. Its especially not a joke to the people whose jobs, homes, education, etc. are at stake depending on who takes the Oval.

Personally, I am worried about Tuesday. What will happen? Will my Muslim family friends be looked at differently when they walk down the streets, or be under “extreme vetting” merely because of the things they believe in? Will our world’s climate continue to worsen because it is looked at as a hoax created by another country? Will my fellow gender, the women of America, be allowed to make an extremely hard decision when they become pregnant or not? I’m really not sure. Continue reading

How to Make Sure That Trumpism Never Returns

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The problem isn’t Donald Trump but Trumpism—many commentators feel safe enough to utter these words. What made them feel unsafe over the past year, despite the toxic extremism that Trump the man represented, was timidity. Someone posing as a strong man, capable of viciously demolishing his political enemies, posed a potential threat to anyone who spoke out against him. But now more people have found a way, even a growing handful of Republican politicians, to denounce him.

There’s a collective sigh of relief that Trump has become his own worst enemy, but relief isn’t the same as feeling safe, much less immune. America hasn’t seen the last of Trumpism until remedies against its return are undertaken seriously. As a physician sees it, we are past the prevention stage, past the first signs of disorder, and well into rampant symptoms that threaten a full-blown outbreak. In a word, Trumpism has become a persistent virus, and although it fuels a sense of self-righteousness to blame the long line of Republican presidents going back to Nixon who planted the seeds of Trumpism, we can’t afford that luxury.

To compress Trumpism into its essential ingredients, they are actually a batch of stubborn illusions that have been turned into a belief system, as follows: Continue reading

If Trumpism Is Here to Stay, What Does That Tell Us?

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

As Donald Trump’s campaigning becomes more unruly–some might say unhinged–the likelihood of him reaching the White House diminishes by the day. But Trumpism is a different story. The ingredients that go into Trumpism fall into the category Freud dubbed the psychopathology of everyday life. To use a broad brush, Freud saw human nature as a war of suppression that is never won, while the possibility of becoming a free, rational, productive person was never achieved. In other words, the psychopathology of everyday life must be considered a constant despite our aspirations and ideals.

It’s a gloomy view of human nature but one that Trump’s ascension underscored. He has no impulse control. He follows the dictates of appetite and ego without regard for others. In the face of problems that require patience and reason, he gets restless and impatient at best and reckless at worst. If we look in the mirror, we can see ourselves in this pattern of behavior, but it belonged, in normal people, to childhood. As adults we take sides in the war of suppression, choosing either to become mature, which means being in control of our Trump side, or letting our demons run, which is pure Trumpism.

The real problem is that even the best societies will never extirpate Trumpism, because our divided selves contain anger, resentment, selfishness, anxiety, and aggression. To the extent that we let these feelings get the better of us, we participate in the psychopathology of everyday life. Trumpism considers this a desirable way to live, but that’s a rich man’s folly. He can bankrupt a casino after running it into the ground and walk away whistling. The workers he laid off can’t do the same. Continue reading

If Trumpism Is the Disease, What’s the Cure?

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

The machinery of politics is geared up to defeat Donald Trump on the Democratic side, and there’s hope, after Trump revealed his propensity for self-destruction, that the Republicans will either abandon him or keep a safe distance. Enough condemnation has been directed at him to sink a dozen candidates, and his extended Teflon period may quickly draw to a close.

But the larger issue isn’t Trump’s viability as a candidate, troubling as that is, but the rise of the movement he represents. Every term of condemnation applied to him–bigoted, racist, sexist, xenophobic, authoritarian, mentally unbalanced–fuels the approval of his supporters. A hopelessly divided, hostile electorate has become a diseased electorate. That’s the thing that should disturb us the most, because disease conditions need a cure or else they continue to fester.

To clarify the point, I think back to my early days in Boston as an underpaid medical resident with a young family to support. Like many in my situation, I moonlighted to make ends meet, working at a famous private clinic in the Boston area. My status was on the bottom rung, so I found myself doing workups on the entering patients. One day I did the physical for the leader of a huge labor union, a nationally known figure. To my alarm, he was overweight, a heavy drinker and smoker, and suffering from various symptoms, the most serious being his high blood pressure and bad heart.

I finished the exam and immediately rushed to my supervisor with the bad news. He blanched, saying, “You didn’t tell him any of these things, did you?” I said no, and the supervising physician looked relieved. “We don’t want to let him know that anything is wrong,” he said. “He’s doing okay the way he is, and if he really knew what was wrong, it would probably kill him.” Those were the days, in the early Seventies, when medical ethics still considered it discretionary to tell a patient any grim news, but the net effect was that denial by the doctor led to ignorance by the patient.

The same, and worse, applies to a diseased electorate. On both sides the racism, bigotry, greedy elitism, reactionary attitudes, and sheer malice that has been a feature of the far right for decades somehow became normalized. A very sick patient was being coddled as if he was healthy. In the case of the union leader, keeping him in the dark was done supposedly in his best interest. The far right has been treated with denial out of fear and repugnance. After “nice” Presidents like Reagan and George H. W. Bush deliberately fueled the festering malignancy of the far right, Southern racists, and religious fundamentalists, moral lines became hopelessly blurred for the vast majority of politicians running for office. Continue reading

Can Trumpism Lead to a Better American Story?

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

We are living at a time when the story of America is changing, with nothing but more change on the horizon. Therefore, we face a critical decision. Should the new American story be born out of fear or hope? The stark contrasts in the 2016 election make this choice inevitable. One indelible human trait is the craving to turn our experiences into stories. These stories gather tags (now often called memes) that keep the story straight and allow people to agree about them. “The greatest generation” is such a tag, supporting the story of the Allied victory in World War II, which is referred to as a “good war,” another tag. Politics is many things, but one of the most important is a war between competing stories, and if your side comes up with the winning story, your victory can last far beyond one election cycle.

Donald Trump has been wildly erratic when it comes to actual ideas, policies, and positions, but he rode the crest of an immensely successful Republican story. So-called conservative “principles” are largely a collection of mythical storylines, and the tags that define them go back to the Nixon era. We are all familiar with law and order, the silent majority, morning in America, “Government isn’t the solution–it’s the problem,” “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” clash of civilizations, “Guns don’t kill people–people do,” and many other conservative memes.

So fervent is the craving for stories that the right wing clings to storylines that are totally false if your standard of truth is historical fact, accurate data, and pluralism. But rigidly clinging to our story is something we all do. By the same token, we become nervous and disturbed when our story starts to fray. The right plays upon fear very successfully at times of national anxiety, from Nixon’s “pitiful helpless giant” to Bush’s “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” to Trump’s “make America great again,” which plays upon the anxiety of national decline. Fear is a powerful motivator in the short term, even when it proves to be disastrously bad as a guide to action, as witness the Vietnam war and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It seems likely that Donald Trump has finally reached the end of his string and will self-destruct thanks to his total inability to control himself. But the crisis surrounding the American story won’t go away. The benign revolt led by Bernie Sanders isn’t comparable to the toxic revolt led by Trump. Yet they share a refusal to go along with the American story we’ve been living with, and the fact that such a huge proportion of Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction indicates how deep our confusion, frustration, and discontent have progressed. Continue reading

America’s Shadow: The Real Secret of Donald J. Trump

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

There’s a powerful way to explain the rise of Donald Trump that most commentators have missed entirely or undervalued. The standard line describes Trump as a bizarre anomaly. Beginning as an improbable celebrity candidate, he has defied all the conventional rules of politics, which should have been fatal. Instead Trump has swept all before him on the Republican side. Possessing a “genius” for grabbing the limelight, he continues to dominate the scene in ways no previous politician ever has in modern times–so the conventional view goes.

But in reality Trump isn’t bizarre or anomalous. He stands for something universal, something right before our eyes. It’s an aspect of the human psyche that we feel embarrassed and ashamed of, which makes it our collective secret.  Going back a century in the field of depth psychology, the secret side of human nature acquired a special name: the shadow. Continue reading

Kids and These Presidential Debates

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There was a moment in the middle of the Republican debate last night, while Trump was shouting, “Little Marco spews his crap about the size of my hands!” that I muted the television and asked my daughters, “Should we actually be watching this?”

We have watched, as a family, most of the Democratic and Republican debates. My girls and I watched Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings. As a parent, I feel that these forums are allowing my family to discuss the issues, but also watch the body language, tone of voice, and how people treat each other.

My daughters are in 8th grade and 5th grade. They are intelligent, empathetic, globally aware children. As a family, we have always discussed difficult issues together whether it’s a girls right to go to school, the water situation in Flint, the lack of justice for the shooting of a young black boy or what it means to be a refugee from a war torn country. Our extended family is on a group text where we share articles and thoughts on current events. My 8th grade daughter participates in debate tournaments and is adept at researching both sides of an issue, gathering facts and cultivating sound arguments. My husband and I have never shied away from exposing our girls to hard issues – always mindful that we do it in an age appropriate way. At 14 and 11 years old, we have felt they are old enough now to not only process, but also participate in this year’s election.

Yet, the spectacle and degradation of last night’s debate made me pause. Just a few days before, Van Jones, a former Obama staffer and commentator on CNN, had an unbelievable interaction with Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan staffer, about the KKK. In his emotion, he mentioned that he felt it was no longer appropriate for his son to watch the media which glorifies the sensational statements of Donald Trump. Continue reading

Students at the Forefront of the Iowa Caucus

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Photo borrowed from Kid Unity

Traveling from Los Angeles to Iowa, a group of 6th graders experienced the political process in a remarkable and personal way. The day of the Iowa Caucus, where the first votes for the next president of the United States will be cast, these kids were meeting candidates, interviewing political reporters and touring the site of this important event.

“As the next generation of voters, it’s important that we study the candidates, issues and process. Our classroom is on the front lines.” -Carlthorp Student

I followed their twitter feed throughout the Caucus, inspired and hopeful for the future. Here are their impressions and learnings in their own words… Continue reading

Birthers and the Politics of the Shameless

 Are the birthers dangerous, wacky, or simply distracting? President Obama has chosen the third option. His press conference in which he released his long form birth certificate was an exercise in tut-tutting. Acting the part of adult-in-chief, he reproached the press for indulging in the "silliness" of promoting the birther issue over serious challenges like the national debt and dealing with entitlements. No doubt he realizes that the lecture was futile. Reading about Donald Trump and his outrageous grandstanding is the moral equivalent of rubbernecking as you drive by a fatal accident on the highway. Everyone does it; nobody feels proud when they do.

But there may be a serious undertone to raising the ceiling on shamelessness. When Trump repeatedly said how proud he was to be playing his part in the birther nonsense, when he said of the birth certificate that he "hoped it was true," and then capped his moment in the sun by denigrating Obama’s credentials for attending Columbia and Harvard, the shameless ceiling was pushed up too far for comfort. Moral viciousness isn’t something to brush aside. For a century after the Civil War the Democrats turned a blind eye to racism, Jim Crow laws, inequality in education between whites and African-Americans, and even lynching. Silence in the face of immorality is itself a kind of immorality. But Democrats redeemed themselves by passing the civil rights laws of the Sixties, while Republicans often sat on their hands and eagerly accepted the shift of the South to their party.

Ever since Nixon’s barely veiled appeal to racism in his infamous Southern strategy and his call to "the silent majority" (code for anyone who hated minority rights and the anti-war movement), Republicans have made hay in more and more shameless ways. By the time they reached their peak years under the second President Bush, the party had perfected lying and demagoguery. Elections were swayed by appealing to fringe issues that no adult, or for that matter no moral child, could take seriously — flag burning, prayer in the schools, gay marriage, abortion rights, Christian fundamentalism, and other so-called social issues played to intolerance. So triumphant was the politics of the shameless that tax breaks for the rich, a war started on the basis of lies and distortion, and a reckless disregard for the approaching financial meltdown could be blithely shrugged off. To this day, nobody in power has paid in any serious way for these catastrophic policies. 

Quite the opposite. The birther movement is like old times returning. It is based on an overt appeal to racism and blind ignorance. Pollsters found that the more that Obama offered proof of his birth in Hawaii, the greater the credence being given to birthers, to the point where even now 67% of Republican voters now say they have doubts about his right to be President and more than a dozen states are considering the kind of "prove that you’re a real American" bill that the Republican governor of Arizona, in an act of decency that went against party lines, was forced to veto. We are told that more mainstream Republicans are threatened by the birthers, and perhaps Obama made a tactical move by holding his press conference. His Republican rivals now must show their hand, which means they have to stand up to the crazies on the Right at a time when the Tea Party is threatening them at the same time. Either that or risk ridicule by continuing to pretend that they have doubts about Obama’s birth.

What I’m waiting for is the moment of redemption when, like the Democrats in the Sixties, the party that has pandered to prejudice and fringe lunacy turns the corner. As tempting as it is to win votes the cheap way, does any Republican have the courage to lose votes the hard way? This isn’t a case of a plague upon both your houses. The disastrous problems faced by the new President upon taking office in 2009 were a Republican legacy, just as Southern racism was once a Democratic legacy. What will it take for them to change? Maybe John Boehner will get fed up to the point that he starts working with the Democrats to solve our pressing problems like adults. Maybe Michelle Bachmann will win the Iowa caucus next spring and show the party elders that they have birthed their own Huey Long. Like the genie let out of the bottle, shamelessness isn’t going back where it came from voluntarily. People have to stand up to moral viciousness. Republican theorists like to put themselves in the honorable line of the British conservative Edmund Burke. They need to remember one of Burke’s most famous quotes: "It is only necessary for good men to say nothing for evil to triumph."

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PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Fibonacci Blue

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