The soul of America

Watching the Democrat’s debate last night and then sleeping on it, I’ve come to this conclusion: the 2020 election is for “the soul of America”. Those words and that thought was articulated by Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee, in his closing remarks. He said, “Character is on the ballet. We have to restore America’s soul.”

I think overall, that sentiment is shared by all the candidates, and indeed by all those left of center on the political spectrum.

My friend Max,  a thirty-something white, well-educated, American male put it to me this way: Why do I, an individual with the “soul of an artist” support Donald Trump? Furthermore, he wondered, “It almost seems as though Bernie and Trump represent two opposite sides of your generation [The Baby Boomer, born from 1945 to 1965.] – or if we can get a little mystical, two opposite sides of your generation’s soul.  I wonder if the fact that you lived through it [the 60s and 70s], and saw a lot of that idealism dissipate, influences to some degree your thoughts about Bernie these days.  Maybe a part of you listens and thinks – ‘yeah, sounds good, but we’ve been down this road before, and it didn’t work.'” 

The artist’s soul

First some clarification. “Soul” represents, for me, both personality and character. No matter your specific definition of those three words, we can agree that they represent some thing that cannot be seen, but only inferred from behavior. And to a lesser degree – by words.

Thus I am purported to have the personality and character of an artist. “Artist” encompasses a group defined by their work. Artists can locate anywhere, but tend to cluster in urban areas. Typically they are not wealthy, and, driven by their craft can be problematic behaviorally. Agreeable, nice, sweet, are not words often used to define them. Regarding ideology, that is typically not something they’re concerned with. Their status can depend upon the success they have; but starving and struggling are words frequently used to describe it.

I have been all of those things except a city dweller.

America’s soul

Joe Biden went on to say, “It [America’s soul] is in jeopardy under this president.” Which again seems to represent agreement from those on the left. Regardless of wealth, position, or social status. Bernie Sanders shouted, [Trump is] “The most dangerous man as president in history! And repeatedly, shouting and pointing for emphasis, “I am sick and tired of ____ “. Fill in the blank. Which speaks to Max’s hypothesis that I, too, might be “sick and tired” of the way things are, and have been, for the last fifty years. Though less angry than Bernie and Biden.

Earlier, I’d told Max that I had watched Bernie’s rally, at Venice Beach in southern California, and that it reminded me of the anti-war rallies of late 60s and early 70s. Even the music was the same, I noted.

Protesting the Viet Nam war with song and dance.
“One, Two, Three, what are we fighting for”

Country Joe at Woodstock … fifty years. What has changed? I want to know? Bernie or Biden have the answer? I don’t think so. Now Trump, he’s shaking things up. He’s got the soul of a man who knows what he wants and how to get it. And that, I reckon is the soul of America–the confidence, grit, and determination that forged this nation out of an hostile land that showed no mercy. The spirit that is America!


Bernie and Biden, if you ask me, are has beens. Relics. Not to mention the fact that they were, and never will be, leaders. Hardly the person to lead America forward, much less the world, into this crazy new world that has emerged.

Killing from a distance

could be a book in itself, but for my purpose here, I’ll just say, “Things have changed.” What was demonstrated last week by the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani is: that no one is safe from being obliterated from planet earth. The power and force of the President of the United States is mind boggling.

Which brings me back to the soul. The soul of a man. Trump jokes about the dead looking down, or up, at the goings-on of the living. I laugh. At his rallies the crowd roars. Humor, comedy, provides us with relief from the terror (of death, destruction, humiliation, and oblivion.) Because no one knows what happens after death.

Terror Management Theory

is an idea put forth by some dudes (of course?): “It proposes that a basic psychological conflict results from having a self-preservation instinct while realizing that death is inevitable and to some extent unpredictable. This conflict produces terror, and the terror is then managed by embracing cultural beliefs, or symbolic systems that act to counter biological reality with more durable forms of meaning and value.”

Trump, without reading, studying, or in anyway – gets Terror Management Theory.

Why or how come? I’ve no idea.

America’s soul. 2.0

So if you want, or think (whatever) – that America (and the world) needs a change? Who should you get behind for the next president? Send your hard earned dollars to? Or give your blood, sweat, and tears for? Not Bernie or Biden. I’m sure of that.

There are two candidates who might possibly change America’s soul, if that’s even possible? And yet they weren’t even on the debate stage. Didn’t qualify.

So … ?



2 thoughts on “The soul of America

  1. Howdy Mark!

    I really liked your use of terror management theory. I would love to see you develop that more. There’s a great podcast episode addressing it on Hidden Brain on NPR. If you haven’t heard it, I think you’d like it. Between terror management theory and psychological threat, you pretty much have the conservative political campaign play book: frightened people tend to vote conservative, so demagogue the hell out of whatever frightens them today.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog and hearing more from you.


    1. Hello Calico,
      So I checked out the Hidden Brain on NPR. Yes, that’s what I’m getting at. I looked at the episode on “Envy” … and … that’s what many people misunderstand. Envy and Jealousy (the green-eyed monster” are different emotions with different purpose in Evo Psych. And I love Dr. Mina CiKara’s work. both she and Gosling are linked in previous posts. Jealousy is, I suggest, what’s driving the Left’s hatred of Trump (as well as envy). I go into much detail in my book, which I think you’d “get”.

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