The fantasy life of Americans

In the fantasy world of America, globalization can be stopped dead in its tracks, and blue jeans will still sell for $20 a pair at Sam’s Club. Manufacturing jobs long vanished will be returned, despite the onslaught of automation (Driverless cars anyone?). There is no need to improve education or skills

Front of a Sam’s Club. (Photo by WalMart, Creative Commons)

because all those old jobs will be coming back. Jobs that are currently filled by immigrants, some of them undocumented, will be filled by Americans eager to do the work that right now a Bangladeshi, or a Mexican, or a Chinese worker do for next to nothing. Obamacare can be wiped away, and healthcare in America won’t be a problem. Despite the rising oceans, and soaring temperatures, climate change does not exist and Americans can burn as many fossil fuels as they wish.

Oh it’s a wonderful world. Lollipops and unicorns and everybody wins the lottery under Pres. Trump. Too bad it really doesn’t exist and never will.

You have to give Donald Trump credit, however. He realized that Americans would rather live in a fantasy world than in the real one. The real one scares them with the challenges that it creates, and Trump persuaded enough Americans that he could create that fantasy world that they so desperately long to live in. But like all fantasy worlds, the point is that it never really existed in the first place. Trump is a snake oil salesman above all, however, and he knows what his audience wants to hear and what they want to believe. And so America will spend the next four years trapped in a fantasy.

But it’s still just a fantasy.

For instance, take globalization. There are some serious problems with globalization for sure, and there is little doubt that it needs some major tweaks. But get rid of it altogether? Do Americans really understand what that means? Do you really think that American workers would make blue jeans for, say, $100 a month in order that their fellow citizens could drop down to their local Target and pick up a pair for, oh, $20-$30? That American workers would be willing to live like Bangladeshi workers? I won’t even answer the question because it’s too ridiculous. But that is what they want. When the day comes will Americans happily pay $150 for the blue jeans that they want? Again, I leave that to your imagination. And let’s remember it just won’t be blue jeans. It will be shoes, clothing all kinds, televisions, cell phones, cars, toys – almost everything that we use in our everyday lives whose price is low because of globalization will rise dramatically in price once it goes away.

Let’s take climate change. Republican leaders like Gov. Rick Scott in Florida don’t even want to acknowledge it exists. Most members of Trump’s new cabinet don’t really believe in it, or at least say they don’t at the behest of the big oil and coal companies who happily support their political campaigns. But climate change is real. Just ask the American military which has named it one of the most serious threats to the country in their past two reports on the dangers the country faces in the coming decades. Increased migration caused by climate change will dwarf what we are seeing in Syria, rising sea levels that threaten to put even Gov. Scott underwater, increased incidence of bizarre weather, more damaging storms, increasing conflicts around the world over dwindling resources caused by climate change – the US military outlined it all. Seems Americans are willing to say how much they value the military but really don’t want to listen to it. Especially if it upsets the fantasy of bigger cars and lots of gas.

Or take undocumented workers. Do you really believe that Americans are willing to spend hours daily under a burning sun picking lettuce or strawberries or potatoes, or to make sure that your lawn in your garden look just right for minimum wage, or that your fast food hamburger stays cheap because the people working behind the counter are willing to work for next to nothing in often abysmal conditions for longer than a week or so. If you do believe that, then you’re a fool.

Because here’s the truth about many, many Americans. They want their lifestyle without having to work for it. And this is true of whether they live in New York City or Des Moines Iowa or on a farm in Arizona or one in North Dakota. There might be different shade to the fantasy depending upon the part of the country that you live in, and the myth you have built up yourself about how “self-reliant” you are, but it’s still basically the same fantasy. After years of being fed lies about the fantasy (by both Democrats and Republicans it should be noted), it’s now embedded in the American psyche like an iron peg hammered into the frozen ground. And Donald Trump knew it, play to it, manipulated it, and won with it.

It would be easy to write about this all day: about the Middle East, about terrorism, about our relationship with Russia and China, healthcare etc., etc. Americans do not want to deal with reality. It’s just too difficult, time-consuming, expensive and hard. Americans would need to be deeply self-reflective and thoughtful about their place in this country, the world and yes even the universe to make the decisions that need to be made into escape our fantasy lives.

But we all know that’s not going to happen, and Pres. Trump knows that most of all. The best we can do is try to find those little bits of reality that will come floating along when the fantasies he promotes start to look threadbare.

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