Trumpism is really just consumer culture run amok


An often-ignored aspect of Trumpism is the runaway consumer culture that underlies Trump’s philosophy and those of his enraged followers.

To the Make America Great Again crowd, freedom doesn’t necessarily mean freedom of the press, speech or religion. To them, freedom means an undying belief in their right to consume all they want, when they want, and how they want it — without any consideration of the effect it may have on others, and even themselves.

Trump himself has demonstrated this. He has complained in the past about the banning of certain chemicals from hairspray because they degrade the ozone layer, which helps shield us from harmful radiation from the sun. Trump says, in effect, who cares about the ozone layer? My hair must look good! The hairspray that depleted the ozone layer is better than the lousy product I have now.

Also, consider the MAGA stance on fossil fuels. Trump and his tribe deny that climate change exists so they can continue to use coal, oil and gas despite the pollution and damage it causes to all of us.

Let’s take climate change out of the equation for a moment, for the sake of argument.

Oil refineries are often located in poor communities where cancer rates are high. Vehicle exhaust contains carbon monoxide, which is deadly if ingested in high enough amounts. Gas-powered vehicles produce toxic, cancer-causing chemicals.

But who cares about that? To the MAGA tribe, they’ve got to drive enormous SUVs emitting dangerous toxins on quiet, suburban streets to display the enormous acreage their manhoods take up.

It’s not enough for some of these people to cruise around in yacht-sized trucks. Approximately 500,000 drivers have made modifications to their vehicles, which allows them to spew black smoke from their exhaust pipes at hybrid cars, pedestrians or bicyclists. It’s called “rolling coal.”

This mean-spirited mockery of others who care about the environment can cost the perpetrator up to $5,000, all so they can literally blow black clouds at someone who is not driving a similar type of fire-breathing, heavily polluting truck — or even driving at all.

Rolling coal emissions are harmful to anyone breathing in this airborne junk. They can obscure the driver’s vision and ability to avoid getting into an accident. It also violates clean air laws. But caring about clean air is for suckers.

Joel Osteen, an evangelist who runs the largest megachurch in the country, promotes something called the “prosperity gospel,” which says, in effect, “If you’re rich, it’s God’s will. And God wants you to be rich. But if you’re poor, it’s your own fault.”

Osteen, worth at least $60 million, has a 17,000-square-foot mansion and a private jet. When asked about all the expensive stuff he owns, he says they are “blessings.”

Osteen doesn’t talk about climate change, social problems, or helping the poor. He’s there to provide comfort to people who are trying to get God’s blessings of wealth for themselves. Osteen has said that we honor God when we’re successful.

Don’t pay any attention to those hurricanes or massive wildfires knocking on your door. They’re not going to hurt you or your children! Caring is a waste of your time.

In effect, the prosperity gospel is a way to bless everyone’s consumerist impulses to get and spend more. It must be very comforting to think that God is smiling down on you for buying that Oscar de la Renta dress at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Trump himself is selling a consumer product. He’s promoting a perverted form of manliness that proudly brags that, as a man, he gets to take what he wants when he wants it. Unfortunately for his followers, Trump’s version of masculinity seems lifted from the lifestyle of a villainous B-movie drug dealer.

It’s pretty clear at this point that consumerism is a spiritual, cultural and climate-wrecking disaster for the United States and the world.

It has spawned an entire planet full of people who think only about obtaining instant gratification for their material desires at that very moment — whether it’s a fat steak, a giant gasoline-spewing truck, or a house the size of a football field, without considering the consequences of their desires, unanchored to any ethical foundation.

If caring about the environment that we all depend on for our lives by using clean energy and giving money to organizations fighting climate change, preserving nature and planting trees makes me something less than a full-bore Trumpian consumer, I guess I’m just not ready to wear that red MAGA hat.

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Michael Gold,