by Lane Rockford Orsak
December 16, 2019
How does one write about the State of the Union? It’s like an instant tripwire—BANG—YOUR CONFUSED—or, it renders you with a spastic speech impediment brought on by unsolicited Tourette’s Syndrome: a succession of uncontrollable skipping fu-fu-fu-fucks!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the State of the Union, and the notion of “success,” and two specific figures in our culture. I find them both remarkably similar in character: President, Donald J. Trump and rap artist, Tekashi, or aka “6ixty 9ine.” Perhaps this messy bit of musing should be entitled: “Make American Great Again: turn her around and hit it from the back!”
Now don’t get me wrong I’m no saint, I’m not as talented in many respects as the before mentioned, nor do I have the “big answer,” more like high anxiety and many questions.
For months I’ve been trying to synthesize my thoughts, squeeze my ass, and find some language that might begin to explain how I feel about Donald J. Trump, our beloved president and “mumble rapper,” Daniel Hernandez, aka, Tekashi, or 6ixty 9ine. Not because I find them so exciting. On the contrary, I find them equally disturbing, and as it happens, for the same reason. It’s like what my spouse said when the former Guess model, Ana Nicole Smith, was given her own reality television show, “It’s so wrong, it’s riveting!”
This effort to commit ideas to paper feel like an unholy cleansing: like removing stacks of garbage from a hoarder’s house, refreshing a homeless person’s car, or removing a dead animal from your swimming pool—there is no easy way to feel good about it, it just has to be done.
My anxiety level has little to do with President Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial, his trade policies, or his roller coaster foreign policy with THE WORLD. No, it’s much easier to get to than all of that mess: more basic, simply a feeling of disgust for his comportment.
Nor, is my anxiety about Tekashi’s recent court trial, where he basically snitched on his old gang-banging buddies that helped to give him street credit as a new shade of “gangster rapper” and made him a fortune overnight mumbling mindless shit…No, it’s his comportment!
Trump and Tekashi grew up 8.1 miles apart from one another, albeit there are decades between them in age. Both men had “tough fathers,” and both fathers apparently taught their kids to aspire to the same thing: money, power, and the impression—yes the impression—of being “great!” Fake it till you make it! I had a tough father, who taught me that what was important in life was to be a doctor or a lawyer, make lots of money, and have sex with every woman I could. Not sure his suggested raison d’être was philosophically on track either!
Study question: What was your childhood message about what constituted success?
Of course, I realize that being president is very difficult in today’s complex social jet stream. We live in a society in which approximately 70% of the population has only a basic education, and the top 20% of the population own 86% of the country’s wealth. The top 1% of American households owns 40% of our country’s wealth. In the wake of the economic crisis of 2008, large and very large companies now employ a larger percentage of the population than mid-sized or small businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Also daunting is our obvious interest in being the most powerful military on earth. Trump requested $639 billion in defense spending for the 2018 fiscal year. So now, the real estate mogul and former television star is our Commander in Chief of the military. Well, if that doesn’t send chills down your spin…
Perhaps even more difficult, is the fact that we the people are bombarded with unvetted news, and our legislative representatives are embalmed and in “special interest” interconnected Kool-aid that is strong enough to kill all the weeds in your garden with little problem.
“America is at a tipping point, finely balanced between truth and lies, hope and hate, civility and nastiness. Many vital aspects of American public life are in play – the Supreme Court, abortion rights, climate policy, wealth inequality, Big Tech and much more. The stakes could hardly be higher…”
– John Mulholland, U.S. editor of the Guardian
In short, it’s about as easy to be in public office as trying to grow a vegetable garden in a hurricane, with the occasional unexpected flashfloods and tornados.
Important consideration: Perhaps we need a new playbook? Perhaps what once made America “great,” must be changed to ensure greatness in the future?
So many kids in this country, “the greatest, and wealthiest country on the planet” grows up in violence and poverty, often without the benefit of parent’s love, support, and mentoring—these kids are doing the best they can with what they know and the resources available to them.
Study question: Is this absence of education, and healthcare for all, by design, or are we simply too ineffectual to find solutions? Let us recall Albert Einstein’s comment, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Large portions of our young people don’t feel seen, don’t feel supported, and don’t have a clue how to thrive. For many, it’s a generation of STUCK, self-absorbed, youth who’s parents have told them how special they are, or that they are worthless, and don’t know how to communicate, or move their ass and make things happen. Their biggest effort to problem solve is to “Google” the answer, ask their parents for help, or study what will ensure employment. Follow the, follow the, yellow brick road…
For some, being an Internet overnight sensation is a dream/goal. For others, the desire to be a social media “influencer,” and with a global population competing for recognition, many try to stand out in more outrageous ways. Let’s consider Takeshi for a moment.
Takeshi embraced “mumble rap.” Let’s consider his lyrical contributions that your children may be listening to as you read this rant: an excerpt from his major hit, “FEFE,” with co-star Nicki Maniaj (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_MXGdSBbAI):
“It’s fuckin’ TR3YWAY!King of New York, lookin’ for the Queen
Uh, you got the right one, hmm
L-let these-l-let these b-b-bitches know, nigga
Queens, Brooklyn, brrr, ah!Murda on the beat so it’s not nice!
Pussy got that wet, wet, got that drip, drip
Got that super soaker, hit that
She a Fefe, her name Keke
She eat my dick like it’s free, free
I don’t even know like “Why I did that?”
I don’t even know like “Why I hit that?”
All I know is that I just can’t wife that
Talk to her nice so she won’t fight back
Turn around and hit it from the back, back, back
Bend her down then I make it clap, clap, clap”
I don’t really want no friends
I don’t really want no friends, no
I’m not criticizing the performance, the vocal talent, or the music. I’m just not digging the message.
Important consideration: Why do we reward someone for saying, FUCK YOU, I don’t care, and I’m great? Why do we reward empty bravado from our artists and our highest office in the land? Is this systemic, a moment in time, or the New American Consciousness?
Now, let’s break it down Barney style to our funky DNA. Forget political correctness and erudite academic ivory towers—we need a new playbook. We need to adjust the game to allow for the enormous changes in science, a multi-racial and complex society, and the alarming rate in which we are destroying our environment. We need problem solvers: our best and brightest minds.
We don’t live in the circumstances of 1776, when we were a nation of 2.5 million farmers, deeply rooted in slavery, with no infrastructure and no technology. When our forefathers crafted the constitution, they realized that there would always be inequities in intelligence, wealth, and power among the citizenry. They tried to create a system that was in fact a universal protection from our human predisposition to abuse the rules on any given day! Our penal codes are not in place because everyone does the right thing!
The problem at present is that the “playbook” established in 1776 to protect us from unfair manipulation is in danger.
For some, perhaps the ideas and problems mentioned are daunting. Please consider the role of the president, our “Commander in Chief.” Imagine one person trying to address the problems of a nation, or the world. Daunting?
Important question: Can one person any longer adequately “represent” all the citizens of this fine nation? Would we not be wise to have a Presidential Panel, as in—more than one? Do we not want efficacy in place?
I’m so tempted to list the exhausting finds from my research about Trump and why he is truly unremarkable. In spite of his closest advisors being arrested, a lifetime of manipulation with a by-any-means-necessary attitude for personal economic gain, and publically saying awful things about damn near everybody… I think I will simply note that according to the fact checkers at the Washington Post: President Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims over 993 days.
So, what’s my point? What do an imprisoned young rap artist, and a Windbag President facing impeachment have in common? Perhaps, it’s the desire to be “great” at any cost. I would be remiss not to point out the elephant in the oval office, and not beg the question, “What constitutes being “successful” in our culture? Because if is by any means necessary—and we forget the notion of having honor and dignity—you can count on a very messy situation in the not so distant future.
Do we still value honesty and kindness?
The quality of one’s happiness is not determined by wealth or power. Anyone who has had the good fortune to have considerable wealth knows this. With that said, not everyone values the notion of being a “self-realized,” compassionate, or a kind person. We still have butchers and madmen in power amongst us on the planet. It strikes me that our leader, or leaders should embody the finest example of compassion and dignity, especially in a nation that refers to itself as 65% Christian. Religious preference aside, I hardly find the political discourse of late any resemblance of love and compassion.
I believe both Tekashi and Donald are flimsy examples of fine human character, but I also believe that bombastic, narcissistic, and self-serving bravado is a tragic New American Consciousness pervading our collective conscious because we are so lost by the intoxicating tsunami of information, misinformation, media messaging, and multi-national social engineering and manipulation that we are reduced to mumbling—I don’t really want no friends. I don’t really want no friends, no!