A Suggestion for Sanders/Warren Supporters or How Trump Supporters are Made

By on November 20, 2019

In looking at the comments for videos posted on YouTube by the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren campaigns, on the surface, there is a lot of hopeful and enthusiastic cheering, which is to be expected, and little more. I posted a sensible — based on my personal experience — comment challenging people to be more personally responsible for their situation, specifically in the area of free college. First, some background:

Free tuition for everyone (I agree greed is bad but entitlement is only a few steps behind) is a sore point for someone whose parents said college was “a waste of time”, a point they hammered home more than a few times. Even when it wasn’t said directly, it was implied every moment of every day in that household. They were the opposite of inspirational for me (they literally produced four Trump supporters). I didn’t turn out the way I did because of them; I turned out this way DESPITE them. It never had anything to do with them paying for my education, which was something I would never have considered. The concepts of intelligence, sophistication and higher education make my parents and siblings angry if they acknowledge them at all. I was in the care of parents with the minds of third-world children. They didn’t want to make themselves better, they didn’t want their children to make themselves better and, most importantly, they didn’t want their children to do better than them. The rest of my family’s lives are dictated by denial, delusion, nurturing their insecurities and fulfilling their selfish and shallow needs. They interpret things emotionally rather than objectively, thoughtfully and analytically. “If I like it, it’s good and if I don’t like, it’s bad” is not the thinking of a mature, rational adult. It’s barely tolerable out of ten year-olds. They are neither thoughtful nor compassionate and are very much the opposite of both. Chief among their bad traits is their need to impose themselves on others. They have to victimize others to obtain satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment. That is the the blueprint for producing (and being) Trump supporters, as I have additionally witnessed by moving to a rural town of 2,000. When your mind is full of those misguided priorities, there is minimal chance for growth.

Where my parents resented the fact they could not impact and shape my thinking, they succeeded in molding their other children into even worse versions of themselves and the collateral damage is unspeakable. For as far back as I can remember, my parents openly and combatively resented that I was much more influenced by what happened outside the family and I was highly inquisitive and attentive. Many families are insular — like the Trumps — but mine was especially so. If I commented on a story while watching the evening news, my mother would say, “What do YOU care?” That’s oppressive mind-control. Conversation was not allowed at the dinner table. My parents mocked how articulate I was, and I have been almost as articulate as I am now since before I was eight. It is counterintuitive that adults were threatened by their own child’s intelligence, inquisiveness and thoughtfulness, all traits that decent parents would nurture. I obviously have more perspective and know more words; otherwise I’m fundamentally the same as I was at that age. The concepts of being forward-thinking and positive are foreign to them. My parents and their other children rationalize their own failures and the accomplishments of others. Why bother having good traits when it’s easier and more satisfying to contradict and criticize those who have them? You can guess how my siblings’ offspring have fared (worse yet and their stories get worse with time).

At minimum, what separates me from my family is my attachment to logic, reason, truth, reality and fact and my constant desire to broaden my perspective. I still try to catch and correct my bad traits and habits. My work, team and moral ethic and need to challenge myself separate myself from them as well. At 62 — and after removing food allergens, refined sugars and processed foods from my diet — my body feels better than any time I remember and I weigh less and am more fit than I was as a college athlete more than 40 years ago. By contrast, all my family members are in bad health and several are obese. I have gone more than two years since I’ve caught any cold-type illness, by far the longest period that’s occurred in my life (knock on wood). I’m the only member of my nuclear family that is not on anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication or tranquilizers or any prescription medication (knock on more wood). I won’t even take anything for a headache unless it’s a persistent migraine, which I rarely have. To this day, I am the only member of my family that does not say “sangwich” (for “sandwich”) or “pusghetti” (for “spaghetti”) and those are the only examples I can think of off the top of my head. To them, there’s something wrong with ME. That is called “gaslighting.” Let them continue to cannibalize each other, which I exhausted myself trying to rectify. While I wish them well, my life is good without them.

While I certainly knew good people and enjoyed talking to their parents, I had been exposed to few educated adults until I left my hometown and sought out (and attracted) the smartest people possible. I had good friends and had a lot of fun in high school and the years immediately after but it was like stepping out of the dark into the light once I left. For most people, the challenge starts with leaving their roots and starting college. I grew up facing adversarial challenges from sources normally associated with being supportive and nurturing, so higher education was a breeze by comparison. It was a lot of work but at least it made sense and didn’t campaign against my well-being, self-betterment and growth.

By drawing parallels between my family and Trump supporters, I am pointing out how much this scenario/environment plays out all over the country. It is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed and now. A great case in point is Charles Barkley’s “unintelligent blacks” comments from 2014. Here is a google search of that name and that phrase and you can see that much-needed original quote and its predictable and much-needed reverberation.


Here’s an excerpt from the October 28, 2014 issue of The Atlantic:

“We as black people are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you are black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people,” Barkley said.

Barkley, a native of Leeds, [Alabama,] said African Americans are too concerned with street cred than true success and that’s holding the community back.

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community.

“There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success. It’s best to knock a successful black person down because they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. It’s just typical BS that goes on when you’re black, man.”

While it’s easy to question his wording, the same cannot be said for his intent and justifiable disappointment. The environment he describes is exactly the same as my description of my upbringing. The guy had to be a huge local sports star growing up yet that didn’t keep him from being subjected to the behavior that resulted in his comments. If anything, it made him a target for everyone else’s resentment and contempt, which I can relate to.

Barkley is already an all-time great athlete but stepping up to that extent to make such a strong, blunt and vitally accurate point was other-worldly. He broke the fourth wall. It’s like that cliche comment about the observations of comedians: “He’s saying what we’re all thinking.” Believe it. Or at least it is what those of us that care and pay attention know to be the truth. I felt tremendous relief knowing someone at that level finally made that point, which in no way limited to his race/demographic. Actually, you can almost switch out “black” for “American” and be accurate. The first people in this country who claim to be “Americans” are the ones that don’t represent what this country is about at all. When I see a house with an American flag, my reaction is “Racist.” More gaslighting I can see through. “American” and “patriot” do not mean “white”, “closed-minded” or “bigoted.”

Once I pulled myself out of my personal mire (and finally moving toward my ultimate point about working through adversity to attain your goals), I worked full-time while going to school at night and graduated debt-free. While it was a lot of work, I enjoyed the challenge of having long, intense, focused days that required my mind to think in different ways. One exec at my first corporation (which paid for my tuition) asked me which was more important to me between work and school. My response was, “Whichever I’m doing at the time.” Focusing on what you are doing at any given time is how you do things well. I liked being completely spent when I got home, knowing I couldn’t have been more productive with my time. I enjoyed mentally switching gears when I left the office at the Federal Reserve Building in San Francisco’s financial district on the drive to San Francisco State in Daly City. (I worked at Wang Labs — an 80’s company if there ever was one — who was a tenant in what we then-called the FRB, two blocks from. During its run and before its back-to-back $500 million dollar quarterly losses in 1989, it was an amazing company and anyone there at the time will agree. Talk about a spectacular rise and equally spectacular fall. Amazingly, my first day there was October 19, 1987, which was Black Monday. Google it.)

As if the drama at my employer wasn’t enough at the time, the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake happened in the middle of my final semester of school. The quake took out the Bay Bridge, which was my way home to Berkeley, for almost two months. The school generously gave students who lived in the East Bay the option to drop classes without penalty. When my instructor made that announcement, my immediate response of “There is no way in hell I am NOT gonna graduate this semester!” made the class erupt in laughter. The announcement was very serious and it was a pleasure to diffuse that air. For my altered commute, I had to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, past San Quentin in Marin County and cross the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. I drove by Fort Baker, a former Army post and now a national park, which is at the north base of the Golden Gate Bridge and where I’d go crabbing at night with friends and family while in my teens. That was a blast and driving by reminded me of those experiences.

My one-hour commute (each way) more than doubled but I was not phased. I just saw it as an amazing drive — especially on a clear night — and a chance to enjoy music in my car. There was little traffic and every angle of that drive was beautiful, especially any view of The City. That was two hours of valuable sleep I lost on school nights I couldn’t afford but I never thought of it like that during the time. My point is, life is so much about your own outlook and how much you have to motivate yourself and navigate through adversity.

What I did not expect with the responses to the initial comment I put up on a Sanders-posted Youtube clip, (half angry, irrational and emotional and half thoughtful, diplomatic and rational) was how uniformly defeatist they were. People had given up on hope. One young woman is barely able to afford her apartment after she graduated and is buried in student debt. I guess it’s like when you order a big multi-course meal at a restaurant and are shocked when the bill comes and you not only didn’t bring your wallet, you don’t even have one. She feels getting a graduate degree can never happen. Even worse, her father implicitly told her there is no hope now. That’s a definition of “grave disservice.” That was the vibe beneath all the cheering for Sanders and what drove me to post this recommendation on other YouTube videos posted by the Sanders and Warren campaigns. For simplicity’s sake, this is the Sanders version. Just switch out the names and pronouns, since the candidates — on the surface, anyway — are so similar. The message and target audience are the same.

Here’s a solution on an individual basis:
Don’t resent Republicans for having all the money while you’re waiting for any plan to share the wealth. Take it from them directly. Get a job in financial services. The pay in that industry is absurd. If you won’t consider it because it is a dull field, you are correct. Job satisfaction is low and it is a joyless industry. It is poorly managed. It does not want to run efficiently. The quality of the people is a direct reflection of those traits. You can’t win the Kentucky Derby riding a mule, even if the mules think they are thoroughbreds.

Do it for a few years and get out to pursue what you want. If you won’t consider it because you don’t think you’re smart enough, you are wrong. Not only does that industry NOT require real talent or intellect, it demands a dearth of both (as well as a lack of depth, perspective, team ethic and a soul). You don’t even have to be good with numbers. People not even good at what they do are overpaid. There are receptionist and assistant jobs that make more than management positions in other industries. I told that to a buddy years ago while his daughter was in college. His response was, “She’s not smart enough.” Now she is in marketing at a mutual fund and pursuing her personal interests and endeavors on her own time.

Beat Republicans at their own game. You can’t play the game if you don’t step onto the field. It doesn’t help to rally, protest and resent the players from outside the stadium while waiting for a money bus that:

  • has not left the depot
  • has not had a previous run
  • has not reached beta stage
  • has not reached alpha stage
  • has not been built
  • does not have a factory to build it yet
  • has a blueprint that as of yet is unproven (isn’t theory wonderful?)
  • has yet to pass heavily-and-desperately resisted legislation
  • has yet to pass a presidential election that is still a year away
  • has yet to pass a Democratic primary election

It’s like Sam Kinison said in addressing world hunger: “MOVE TO WHERE THE FOOD IS!”

That’s not meant to be funny. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and that will never, ever change.

Don’t just follow and cheer Bernie waiting for something to happen. Take his lead. Be inspired by his indestructable drive to make things better and apply it directly to your own life. Bernie Sanders never waited for anyone to share their wealth. He obtained his on his own. He puts every fibre of his being into achieving his (and the country’s) goals. His implied lessons are even more valuable and applicable than his direct ones. Be your own hero.

I have not received notification of any responses.


November 20, 2019 (Updated/revised March 17, 2020)

About Dan Walker

As part of an Air Force family, I went to elementary school in Great Falls, MT, junior high in Cheyenne, WY and high school and college in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in business. I was fortunate to have worked for great companies in Silicon Valley (Oracle Corp) and Hollywood (Miramax Films). I also lived and worked (primarily in financial services, which has no great companies) for eight years in Manhattan, New York City. I now reside in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley.

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