Real Leaders LISTEN And Make Everyone Around Them Better; Donald Trump’s The Exact Opposite

Pete Souza’s wonderful photo of Barack Obama, bending down so the son of a WH staff member could pat his head.

What makes Barack Obama a superb leader (his approval rating’s 58%) — regardless of whether you liked or like his policies — is his limitless capacity to inspire those all around him to do better, be better. Not because Big Brother was compelling you to — for Big Brother’s benefit — but because being the best you could be would make your life better as well as everyone else’s. We v Me. What gave Donald Trump away as the worst possible kind of “leader” was his apparent belief that “I alone can fix it”. As the British half of my family would say: “BOLLOCKS!”

“I alone can fix it” is something only a delusional male would say. Same goes for the idea of the “rugged individualist”. Those are little boys who equate their refusal to color inside the lines with entrepreneurial spirit when, really, they’re just little boys who don’t know how to color. On a team, they’re the question mark — sure, they have a skill set, but will they feel like using it on the day we really need them? Libertarianism is so self-congratulatory, it’s a wonder libertarians can talk about anything else. They’re all mole rats convinced they’re eating caviar when, in fact, they’re feeding on the rot inside their own corrupt intestines.

I’ve been lucky in my show biz career. Damned lucky. Before I took my best shot at undoing all that luck, I got to work with extraordinary people. When I ran “Tales From The Crypt” for HBO, among my Executive Producers was Robert Zemeckis. Bob’s features include “Back To The Future”, “Forrest Gump”, “Castaway”, “Contact”, “Flight”. I wrote two of the three episodes Bob directed for “Crypt”. Watching Bob work — his process — was a master class in leadership.

First, Bob challenges with “the cool idea”. What if we could do “this” — “this” being something we’ve never seen before? Yeah, we all agree, that would be cool, but the problem is, it’s un-doable. “Oh, is it?” asks Bob with a smile. Bob has a way to get there. He’ll reveal it eventually. But, first, he wants to see how we might solve it — knowing there’s a possible solution. His goal — see what we might contribute to what he’s thinking. We can’t hurt what he’s got in mind, but we can definitely add to it. Ideas flood the floor — good, bad, indifferent. It doesn’t matter. Everyone in the creative team is invested and investing in finding that solution.

And then — as we (feel like we’re) collectively solving the problem — the problem gets solved. And we feel like we did it together! The truth is, Bob guided us all along. We don’t know where Bob’s idea ended and ours began. We solved the problem, not me. The environment was entirely nurturing.

Again: We v Me.

Making movies and TV shows is a crap shoot. Aspirations to greatness don’t always produce box office boffo results. How’s that old saw go — “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game”. Yeah — THAT. In almost every project Bob Z does, there’s a moment where Bob gathered the creative team all around him and told them what he had in mind. The idea was awesome. “Okay, guys,” Bob said, as he looked from eye to eye, “How’re we gonna do this?”

That’s leadership.

Joe Biden — regardless of whether he’s progressive enough for you (and he isn’t progressive enough for me but I do see him as a means to the end I want) — has been and will be a good leader because he draws on those same leadership skills. To him, a big part of leadership is LISTENING.

I’ll say it again: LISTENING. Leadership = Listening.

If you can’t listen, you can’t lead. Even if you’re a pirate by nature, surely you see that listening to your crew — even if only occasionally — could work out to your advantage. Donald Trump can’t even manage that because “he alone can fix it”.

Oooh, wait. I think I see our problem. We’ve misunderstood how Donald means “fix”. When HE says “he alone can ‘fix’ it”, he means “fix” the way a criminal does.

I may be talking myself out of my own argument here… If Donald means he alone can make everyone around him more of a criminal, then he’s absolutely right! To enter Trump’s sphere is to criminalize yourself. If you won’t compromise yourself (provided you haven’t already), you don’t get to play or stay in Trump’s world. Donald Trump is great at turning people into criminals! I may not like how that’s transforming people, but — in his own way, isn’t Trump making these otherwise mediocre Republicans “better”?

Hmmmmm… No. Even in criminal world, the REAL criminals — the Vlad Putins, the Kims, the MbS’s — see Donald Trump as a piker. He’s just a greed machine and a garden variety bully. He couldn’t kill anyone — for real — in cold blood. He’s too much of a wuss. He’ll throw money at someone — tell them to get blood on their hands. Even among criminals, that ain’t “leadership”.

Donald may be a black hole of corruption, but he’s not a super nova black hole of corruption. He’s simply not good enough.

Whew! That’s a relief. For a second there, I almost had to admit Donald Trump was good at something — as if he could “lead” in it.

It’s a stone cold fact: Donald Trump — alone — can’t fix OR LEAD anything.

Fact: There Is No Conservative Solution To A Crisis Conservatism Caused

If I was to continue the alliteration, I’d say: Ka-ching!” That’s because it’s so on the money. We are in a crisis… no, we’re in a storm of crises. If only we had just one crisis to deal with this second, it’d be bad enough. But Donald Trump and the Republican Party have brought us to a place where we now face multiple crises on multiple fronts — and all because they are trying desperately to hold onto power that was never legitimately theirs.

Conservatives aren’t criminals and conservatism itself isn’t the “enemy”. Conservative greed is the enemy — as is everything that’s flowed from that greed like, say, their willingness to compromise themselves with Russia. Conservativism’s problem is it’s unsaleable to the majority of Americans. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s just a stone cold fact. Hell, even Donald Trump knows it. The whole point of voter suppression (up to and including hobbling the Post Office) is to stop more people from voting because of how most of them will vote.

Conservatives could have seen their diminishing place in our politics and done something respectable — like find a rock solid place in it. The truth is, progressives like me do need a counterweight if only to keep us honest. But that counterweight needs to be honest, too. And, right now, conservatism can’t claim a lick of honesty.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything wrong with crony capitalism. The Republican Party just proved that point for all eternity.

Crony capitalism is the conservative fix for everything. It doesn’t matter what the problem is — or whether it ever gets solved — so long as the right amount of money lands in their pocket along the way. The rich get richer while everyone else grows more impoverished, trapped and angrier. But the money that runs capitalism runs both ways.

An economy built on consumers and their confidence will die without them. More specifically, the giant corporations fattening themselves by selling products to American consumers rely on those consumers’ ability and willingness to buy. Problem 1: if those consumers are too broke to buy your products, you’re dead. Problem 2: if those consumers refuse to buy your products because they hate what you stand for, you’re deader than dead.

Here’s the tell: On April 19, 2017, Fox News canned Bill O’Reilly. At the time, O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” was Fox News’ top-rated show and its biggest cash cow. O’Reilly wasn’t a “journalist” and didn’t have to play by “journalistic rules” (as if Fox ever has!) but his appearance on a news network gave the utter claptrap that was his stock in trade the “sheen” of news. O’Reilly allowed Fox News to have it both ways. And then, suddenly, that music stopped.

Women did it.

It’s simply a fact: women make the majority of buying decisions in American households. They do the majority of the grocery shopping. They buy the majority of the clothing for their households. They work, they run carpools, they buy cars and gasoline and because they’re now increasingly the principle earners in more and more American households, if they suddenly decide to cancel culture a product? That product will be cancelled, no going back.

All those big corporations whose products women regularly buy? They got the memo. Not wanting to be cancelled, they told the 21st Century Fox Board that they would no longer advertise their products on Bill O’Reilly’s show. They did not want their brands associated with Bill O’Reilly’s brand. For the Fox board, it wasn’t a hard decision. They fired Bill O’Reilly (for reasons they could have/should have fired him years before).

When the marketplace spoke loudly enough, the money reacted. And the marketplace reacted to the economic power of the women within it. Those women are now taking political power with two hands. I’m going to generalize here — male that I am: female biology dictates communal decision-making over unilateral decision-making. No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because (here I go generalizing again about women) she knows that no woman can bear and rear a child alone. It really does take at least one other person to help at some point or neither baby nor mama will survive. It really does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to almost everything — especially in a democracy.

It’s just a stone cold fact: no one can do anything “alone”.

That’s the petard on which conservatism is now hanging itself. Their belief that they alone could “fix” it.

This absolutely a problem of conservatism’s making. Conservatism made it because they were greedy. The way out can’t possibly be more greed.

The way out isn’t some middle option either. Anything that doesn’t put the full weight and potential of the American government at the disposal of We The People has no business being in the discussion. We can smell it’s greed from here.

Even doing everything perfectly will not guarantee that we get a free ride of some kind that magically returns our lives to how they were pre-pandemic. But the results will be exponentially better than what we’re doing to ourselves now. We’re in the process of learning (playing the part of lab rats) how Universal Basic Income works — and how it bolsters and builds an economy rather than undermining it (as conservatives insist, their parsimony cranked up high). We’re learning the lesson that health insurance is not the same thing as health CARE and that literally everyone needs to be included in a universal health CARE system because (in a world where pandemics might now be regular occurrences) we can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy person among us.

Pandemics begin with one person and spread from there.

We’re learning that human decency is, in fact, more important than money. As all those corporations are learning quickly, decency must be part of everyone’s brand going forth. It’s not going to be an option.

The Black Death killed feudalism. It turned an oppressive economic system upside down — giving labor an upper hand it never had before. The result was the guilds, a growing middle class, the birth of capitalism and, finally, the industrial revolution.

We won’t know if this pandemic has the same century-long impacts. We’ll be long dead when those histories get written. But, I bet we get a taste. We’ve already gotten one.

History will judge some of us very harshly. Conservatism won’t be blamed for causing America to nearly collapse but it will be seen as being on the wrong side. I’m not sure, really, how conservatism will eventually get back on our “right” side. What will it take for us to trust their motives again? We’d be foolish to accept their claims of rehabilitation on faith.

I’m absolutely certain nothing conservatives say can help rescue America from what conservatives have done to America. I’m almost as certain conservatives can’t help rescue themselves from what they’ve done to themselves.

I hope they understand if some of us refuse to lend them a hand when they beg for one.

WE Alone Can Fix It

The Big Lie that helped bring us the Age Of Trump flows from that wellspring of bullshit — Libertarianism. “I alone can fix it” is laughably absurd.

But, as much as some of us roared the first time Donald Trump spewed those words, some in the crowd — their ears perked up. They, too, think they alone can fix it, having convinced themselves that Ayn Rand was a genius who saw the rugged individual inside of them that ached to be a Master of His Own Fate.

Ayn Rand died in poverty on the public dole. So much for rugged individualism and “I alone can fix it”. Those are literary conceits — and, in the hands of Ayn Rand, horribly written literary conceits on top of it. I bet she even sucked as a typist.

As we all know about Trump, he couldn’t even “fix” his own election alone. Russia did that for him.

If the Democrats really want to draw a clear distinction between their message and the GOP’s (not that there’s any similarity between the two), they could focus in on the nonsensical Republican belief that “I alone can fix it”. What pretty much every single Democrat is already touting, the Democratic message is “WE alone can fix it”.

If I were running for office — that’s how I’d explain what needs to happen. For starters, we need to stop seeing a president as a fix-all. Great leaders — not fixing anything alone — know how to get the best from everyone around them. Great leaders don’t pilfer from the people supporting them (claiming credit for their ideas), they embrace the ideas — not just giving credit but demonstrating how the more ideas we get from more places, the better and more inclusive our problem-solving will be.

This is a rare moment in modern American history. For all the pride Americans take in the benefits of citizenship, too few accept the responsibilities that also come with being an American especially the responsibility to vote. Suddenly Americans want to vote. Suddenly Americans feel the tug of responsibility.

If the trend lines started in 2018 continue, the American electorate is pretty much woke. We’re paying attention as never before.

Americans, being Americans (with a very short attention span), this won’t last. We’re racing toward a resolution of Trumpism. Too many people who know the Truth are stepping forward now. 2020 will absolutely be a referendum on Trumpism — and it will be turned out utterly and completely. But, in the moments just before Americans revert back to deep-seated apathy, we can change how they think about being an American.

I would tell my fellow Americans that their being “woke” is essential to our health as a republic. Before they revert though, they need to pay attention for a little while longer. How we resolve Trumpism — how we go forward — how we think of “us” — how we think of The Rule Of Law — how we think of the taxes we pay and what we expect that money to do FOR US (not in spite of us) — all of these things need to be on the table.

Especially the last thing — how we pay for fixing us.

Americans view paying taxes the way they view death. A terrible, terrible inevitability. We believe our tax dollars buy us nothing except an army and a lot of useless bureaucrats.

I would attack that idea first. I would remind every American that we are the greatest experiment ever in human SELF-GOVERNMENT. We do this. WE.

If every tax-paying American were given a statement that showed where every penny of their tax dollars went — including things useless and things useful — they might not be happy (not at first), but they’d start to feel a little more in control. At least they’d understand their relationship to the government in practical, day-to-day terms they could actually relate to.

It’s a thought anyway.

America’s motto is not “I alone can fix it”. It’s E Pluribus Unum. From many, one.

That’s our strength. It’s our saving grace, too.

The Correct Answer Is Men Need To Get The Hell Out Of The Way So Women Can FIX What Men Have Done

Seems our biology has caught up to us.  Men have abused female biology forever and that abuse has brought the human species to a moment of absolute peril.

Yes, I absolutely believe that had women been running the course of human events instead of men, we would be in a far, far different place than we are today. We wouldn’t be stuck between the rock and hard place that Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and every other tinpot dictator on the planet have put us in. We wouldn’t be teetering on the brink of destruction because Donald Trump has issues with his teeny-weeny weenie.

Men think having penises makes them strong? Oy. Just… OY!

Having a womb, men decided, makes women weak.  Again — OY!

Anyone who’s ever witnessed childbirth knows how bullshitty that is.  Think any male on the planet could survive childbirth without medication?  Men, if they bore the babies, would brag about the length and pain of their labor the way they brag about their dick size now.  That’s a stone-cold fact.

No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because she knows – her biology guiding her – that it’s virtually impossible to bear and raise a child all by yourself.  Starting with the “bearing” part.  Yes, it’s possible for a woman to bear a child herself – it happens all the time.  But both mother and baby are incredibly vulnerable.  They need others entirely to survive.  Female biology quietly states the absolute truth: no one, male or female, can do anything alone. 

Human beings are social creatures who depend on the group for survival.  The idea of rugged individualism is very romantic – and very male.  But it’s 90% nonsense.

That rugged individual – even if he’s a genius – can’t realize or exploit his genius without the human society around him making that happen.  And, just as important, pretty much every genius stands on the shoulders of the geniuses who came before him (or her).  Even their “genius” wasn’t achieved alone.

Save, reliable birth control changed the game completely for women; it gave them the means to prevent their biology from side-tracking other plans they might have.  Keep in mind – female sexual pleasure doesn’t result in pregnancy, male sexual pleasure does.  A woman doesn’t have to orgasm to get pregnant – and she can orgasm a million times – without fear of ever getting pregnant.  It’s only when a male orgasms – inside a woman – that pregnancy becomes a distinct possibility.

The male orgasm is what “fixes it” for the woman.  Men can (and do) squirt-n-go.  A man in his prime can impregnate a woman a day if he wants to.  He could walk around with dozens of babies with his DNA and never even know it.  Women?  Doesn’t work that way.

Male culture fosters an environment where alpha dogs rise and beta dogs bow down.  Female culture (I’m generalizing but not a whole lot) fosters a collective environment (someone has to hold your baby while you eat, go to the bathroom, shower) that carries over to all other decision-making processes.  But female biology still dictates.  Women (again, I’m generalizing but not a whole lot) tend to hate it when their babies suffer, get hurt or worse, die.

Having carried a baby, fed it with her body and then been part of its everyday life, mommies look at the world differently than even a good, caring father.  It’s biological.  Inescapable.

Because they think of themselves first, men are naturally better at being greedy.  Women can be great at it too.  But the data set we have – the history of human beings – says men have made collecting things (money, power, women) part of their skill set. 

I don’t know for sure that women will do better at running things than men have.  They can’t possibly do worse.  FFS – male leadership has been so short-sighted it’s destroying the whole planet. 

Human abuse of the environment smacks of “squirt-n-go” thinking.  We keep creating someone else’s problem – by the time the baby arrives (in our case, an uninhabitable planet), we’ll be somewhere else, looking to stick our dicks inside some other planet.  In our minds anyway.

“I Alone Can Fix It” Is BULLSHIT Top To Bottom. Any Woman Could Tell You THAT…

Trump cos more trump

Among the statements Donald Trump has made that most reflect a personal ‘philosophy’ is that one:  “I alone can fix it”.

And it epitomizes not only NARCISSISTIC ‘thinking’ but MALE thinking, too.  In fact, it IS how males tend to think and problem-solve — unilaterally.

If you look at the mythological heroes we Americans have created for ourselves (real, quasi-real & flat-out fictional) —  Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyan, Uncle Sam (just for starters) — they’re all ‘rugged individuals’ — solitary males taking the ‘burdens of the world’ onto their strong, sure shoulders.  They don’t run for a ‘second opinion’ when things get tough, they step up, man up, and ‘do it’ (whatever ‘it’ is).

And we, as a Nation, have celebrated that ideal — regardless of how bullshitty it actually is.  Dictatorships rely on unilateral decision-making.  Successful countries however do not.  If we measure ‘success’ by happiness of a population, America doesn’t score too terribly well.  Places like Denmark & Sweden are far, far happier.

We may be ‘wealthier’ in that ‘we’ have ‘more money’ in our pockets, but that ‘we’ is actually a very small club (and getting smaller).  Most of the actual ‘WE’ (as in We The American People’) have LESS money now — and a lot less certainty about our future.

It is entirely male to focus so exclusively on the rights of the individual over the rights of the group.  The individuals those males are so worried about — they’re all male, too.  And their idea of ‘freedom’ is to do whatever they goddamn well please — regardless of who it hurts, inconveniences, disadvantages or impregnates.

As much as we like to flatter ourselves that we’re here for some ‘higher purpose’, our biology says we’re here for ONE purpose: To survive long enough to reproduce — to spread our genetics — before we die.  That’s what we’re really ‘designed’ to do.  For men, that reproductive role involves sticking our penises into a vagina and squirting out our DNA.  Once we finish and withdraw — our real purpose in life having been accomplished — males are free to walk away.

And they almost always do.

Women, on the other hand, must deal with the consequences of that male DNA furiously swimming upstream inside them.  Should a sperm survive and make it inside the egg that (could be) waiting there?  That starts a process that — if it comes to completion and produces a human child (one that can survive OUTSIDE A UTERUS) — cannot be handled alone.

Female biology demands group involvement just to survive.  And that informs everything women do.  Survival depends upon the group — and therefore what helps & benefits THE GROUP must take precedence over the needs of any one person.  Because if THE GROUP dies, they all die.

When your attachment to The Group dictates your thinking & decision-making, you don’t see yourself as an individual (rugged or otherwise) but as a member of The Group — and your success as a member of the group will depend entirely on your ability to WORK WITH & WITHIN the Group.  Consequently, you think differently than someone (a man) who ‘alone can fix it’.

Unilateral male decision-making has brought us to this terrible place:  “I alone can screw this up’.

The surge of women into American politics is long, long overdue.  They will change the entire political culture — because they think differently than the men who drove American Political Culture into the ground.

Gentlemen — hand over the keys.  The Women are driving now — and you don’t want to piss them off any more than they already are.