The Bull in the China Shop

A Trump supporter, quizzed on the PBS Newshour, explained that “America needs a bull in the china shop. Trump is the bull.”

Her statement vividly shows how angry people are. When you’ve been dragged down by an economic collapse, when the jobs you trained for disappear, and when your friends and family turn to addictive painkillers for relief, what do you want to do?

You want to tear it down. You want pull down the roof and crush the people who have done this to you. You want the bankers and the insurance companies and the auto executives and the Harvard lawyers to suffer too.

When Donald Trump rhetorically, insultingly, asked African Americans “what have you got to lose?” he was speaking to his angry, despondent white working class supporters too. When you’re working at Walmart, your spouse is sick and you can’t afford your deductible, and your kid’s on Oxycontin, what have you got to lose?


When you invite the bull into the china shop, the result is pretty predictable. All you will be left with is a pile of rubble.

You can’t glue the china back together. All you can do is throw out everything, along with the bullshit.

Have you ever felt that anger, wanting to tear everything down? If you aren’t feeling it now, can you remember it?

Once my anger about the daily carnage in Vietnam was so intense that I told a college professor that if we couldn’t stop the war, we should just start blowing things up here at home. It was a fleeting terrorist idea – the feelings of impotence in the face of terrible events was just too much.

Others succumbed back then, and actually blew up a few buildings. Some went out and broke windows, much as we’ve recently seen people do in frustration over police killings of blacks. Rage and despair are not a healthy mix.

The professor asked me, calmly, whether I believed that blowing things up would help change things for the better. I replied that the war would stop if people felt the pain at home. “Do you really think you’ll change their minds that way,” he asked, “or do you think that the mess you create will just give the bastards even more power?”

That stopped me short. Of course he was right. When things fall apart, the people who clean up the mess may not be your friends.

If Donald Trump breaks the china, as he could surely do by deporting 11 million people, throwing out environmental protections, invading who-knows-what country, and jailing his opponents, who will clean up the mess?

Trump has created the illusion that bluster, threats and imaginary grandiose “solutions” will bring back industrial jobs that will never exist again, anywhere. He’s selling a dream that a privileged billionaire can tear down a corrupt system and save us from the greedy bankers, lawyers, and politicians.

This…coming from a man who employs thousands of minimum wage workers and says “wages are too high.” Who has repeatedly declared bankruptcy in order to avoid paying the people who built his businesses. Who brags about “buying politicians.”

There are real problems with the way our government works. Most of them are related to the enormous influence that corporations and wealthy individuals hold over politicians. Trump would leave that system intact while tearing down environmental protections, the minimum wage, international security pacts, health insurance assistance, as well as appointing right-wing ideologues to the supreme court.

Trump won’t address the underlying problems – the lack of any meaningful voice or influence by non-wealthy Americans. He has benefited from this system his entire life, and his business continues to depend on his ability to buy politicians. As president, he would do what he has always done – build his personal wealth and seek boundless self-glorification. His claims to be “your voice” are the claims of a con man.

Trump may break the china by disrupting Washington, but he won’t break his own gold-monogrammed china.When the china breaks, don’t expect to ever be able to eat off it again. Don’t even expect that the shop itself will still be standing.

Remember, this is a man who asked “if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?”

Read about the peace movement’s struggle between pacifism and terrorism – and how it affected me as a teenager – in Some Way Outa Here.


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