Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Inner Trump and World Domination

I had a very strange dream last night. I dreamed that Donald Trump became my room mate. Naturally we didn't get along. He was loud and blustery and obnoxious, and we didn't like each other much. But we both came to realize we had to make the best of it. So we sat down and talked. I told him that we didn't have to agree with each other, or even like each other, to get along. We agreed to disagree. Then the scene shifted and I was with Jill and a Trump tweet appeared. "What's that about?" she asked. "My roommate just got a new video game and he's really excited." That was the end of the dream.

I wonder if this dream had anything to do with something I wrote last week about my "Inner Trump." I realized that one reason I react so strongly against the Donald is that I have within me some of the same Trump characteristics that infuriate me.

Many years ago, when I was in grad school, some of my friends introduced me to a game called “World Domination.” At that time, I was very competitive—I felt I had to be, given the cut-throat competition of graduate school—and this game “spoke to my condition.” Each player was given a country, plus some military and other resources, and had to conquer as many countries as possible until he or she achieved world dominance. To be dominant, you had to form alliances, but these alliances could be broken whenever the player saw it was to his or her advantage.

I had enjoyed playing monopoly as a child, so I adopted a strategy of “Anthony First.” I made and broke alliances with ruthless self-regard. Soon other plays realized that I couldn’t be trusted and wouldn’t make any alliances with me. I  found myself isolated and ended up being the first to be utterly dominated.

I learned an important lesson playing this game. To be successful even in a cut-throat world, you need allies and you need to stick with your allies as long as possible. If your fellow players see you as utterly untrustworthy, you end up becoming a loser.

I also learned that I have a very competitive streak, and it doesn’t always serve me well. Over the years I have  come to appreciate the importance and the power of cooperation.

This is a lesson that Trump hasn’t learned. Seven months into his Presidency, he has alienated all of America’s traditional allies, except Israel and Saudi Arabia, who find him useful as an arms supplier. He has tried to cozy up to Russia, but Putin has so far been able to play Trump like a puppet. Unlike Reagan, who negotiated with Gorbachev from a position of strength, Trump has hopelessly compromised himself by allowing his underlings to collude with the Russians during his election campaign—a fact he refuses to acknowledge, even though it is apparent to most thinking people. Trump has little or no appreciation for the enormous effort that previous Presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have expended to build alliances that serve American interests. He has slashed the budget of the state department so he can build up a military that will bully the world into submission. This is a recipe for failure.

It is easy to see the splinter in Trump's eye, but I can’t forget that I have an “inner Trump” that sometimes blinds me. As a white male, I sometimes take my privileged status for granted. I have a strong personality and it is easy for me to dominate if I am not self-aware and check myself to make sure that others have a chance to speak and to shine. 

But perhaps the most important lesson of the dream is that somehow we must learn how to get along with Trump while he is in office. It would be tragic if we fell into the trap of becoming like Trump in order to defeat him. To defeat Trumpism effectively, we must demonstrate a better way by showing that civility and cooperation actually work. The Women's March that took place right after the Inauguration demonstrated how masses of people can come together and make a huge impact nonviolently. We need more such demonstrations. We also need to work tirelessly to change the hearts and minds of our elected officials by staying in touch with them and letting them know how we feel and what we expect from them. We also need to change the hearts and minds of those who have drunk the Trump Kool Aid. This means befriending those we disagree with. That won't be easy, but it's what Jesus meant when he told us, "Love your enemy." That's the only way to overcome the domination game. 


  1. This is Rosie Maureen and I met you Saturday at the think -tank meeting you and your wife were at in Temple City and enjoyed listening to you.I think part of what made Trump seem so great to his followers is he said he was a winner and that in following him all of the USA could be 'winners 'as well.In attempting to change hearts we need to see why they felt he could fill their needs.

  2. I agree with you that Trump appeals to the need among some Americans to see the world in terms of "winners" and "losers." This is the antithesis of Christianity, as I understand it. What profits it a man if he wins the presidency and loses his soul? is how Jesus would put it. For Christians, the "race" was not about winning but being faithful to one's calling. See