By the measuring stick of capitalism, Donald Trump has won the game. He has attained the pinnacle of American business success, namely power; his finger on the nuclear button, Donald Trump is now the most fearsome businessman in the world. He has vanquished all enemies and proven his top-predator status; in his terms, he is a winner – The Winner – and all others aspiring to power must now cozy up to him if they want to be in his good favor.
Were this a teenage video game, a rootin’-tootin’ shoot-em up featuring the new sheriff that’s come to town, we could dismiss the bells and whistles and the Game Over message at the end, but sadly, this is no game. A cartoon character now controls the game-boy joystick of the most powerful military in the world.
Not yet even President, he takes and makes calls with world leaders, upending decades of careful diplomatic calculation. I can imagine him blithely dismissing criticism of his behavior, Tweeting comments like, “Trump does not take orders from boring establishment ‘diplomats’. What a joke!”
We are in for four years of “The President,” starring Donald Trump. He’s playing the role of his lifetime according to his very own script, which as we can see includes a lot of improv. Were it not so dangerous, it could be entertaining to watch him pull the rug out from under America’s entrenched power structure. Unfortunately, to paraphrase the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitiz, “Trump is draining the swamp by replacing the old morons with new morons.” Fabulously wealthy new morons, I might add.
In Buddhist teachings, we live within the Realms of the Wheel of Samsara, in which the God Realm contains those who have attained the upper limits of the fulfillment of all desires. In modern western terms, the God Realm is the highest attainment of Ego Psychology, the logical outcome of “looking out for #1.” In both cases, however, when the game is over it’s a long, long way down. When the merit of a being in the God realm is exhausted, that being begins to stink and decompose; Buddhists say the shock of it is so great that such beings descend into the hell realm of constant pain and suffering. And too, for the successful, narcissist businessman used to winning; old age, sickness and death bring unavoidable forms of suffering.
History teaches that when state power is wielded by God Realm ego, things do not end well. Characters like Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot…the list is long, used state power viciously, and worldwide misery and suffering have often been the result. Undoubtedly, in their beginnings, most thoughtful people thought these ego-maniacs too wacky and unstable to be taken seriously, until, as we now know, it was too late. Perhaps some people even found them entertaining.
So it appears many of us are now confronted by a question we’ve asked ourselves and each other for a long time, namely, “If you could stop the rise of (take your pick…Hitler, Mussolini, etc.) would you, and what would you do?” Many of us are wondering what to do now, and confronted by the hypothetical question we’ve pondered for so long, still have no clear answer.
For Trump, The Winner, everything is perfectly clear. He has won the contest for America, and will now, help us all, turn his attention to winning the contest for the world.