Button, Button, Who’s Got The Button?
A New Year’s Lament
This post was originally made via Mailchimp on January 25, 2018; we’re republishing here not only in light of recent events, but as we ready the launch of our new 21st Century Citizenship website (which we’ll link to when it’s up!)
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
This tweet from Donald Trump at the beginning of the New Year brought to mind the very serious concern, “Button, button who’s got the button?”
In the childhood guessing game, this is a question to be answered by players in a circle. In our adult world, it is a lament.
It is a lament because we know all too well who has the button. With his tweet, President Trump has called that to our attention.
It is in no way reassuring to be advised that the button is in the hands of two adults who think and behave like children. If only this were a game, but it is not.
It is not virtual reality. It is our reality. This reality is a scary and saddening one.
That’s because we recognize it is not the size of the button that counts but the size of the brain of the person who holds it.
We don’t know Trump’s hat size or his IQ. But, we can safely opine, based upon the sheer idiocy and insanity of the “nuclear button” tweet, that while other parts of the President’s anatomy may be “huge,” his gray matter is not.
It’s that condition coupled with Trump’s petulant, erratic and impulsive behavior that makes us fearful — fearful that in a fit of pique the President might press the button and let the nuclear genie out of the bottle.
Trump spent his presidential campaign and his first year as President pressing all of our buttons. That was one thing. And while it might have been pleasurable for his supporters and angering for his detractors, it was not fatal.
This nuclear button pressing would be quite another. The results would be permanent, cataclysmic and irreversible.
Button, button who’s got the button? This is a lament for what might happen, as opposed to what has happened.
In the child’s game, the button is passed to the kid that correctly guesses who has the button and the game continues for another round. In our adult world, this is not a game — if the button is pushed, there will be no more rounds.
America and the world as we have known it will never be retrieved. Is this future inevitable?
No. But if the Donald’s “fire and fury” approach to communicating and governing persists, it definitely seems possible.
Perhaps we are being too harsh and judgmental in our assessment. There may be an alternative perspective.
That “very stable genius” — as Trump has labeled himself — may just be fooling and fooling around with everyone. Being the smartest guy in the room and the world, he is in complete control and knows exactly what he is doing to manipulate events and outcomes in the way that he has pre-determined.
Assuming this viewpoint, here is a concocted storyline in which Trump comes out from behind his tweets and his self-imposed cone of media silence. On April 1 of this year, Trump holds a press conference (an extraordinary feat for him in and of itself) and announces:
I stand before you in a button-down shirt, with a button-down mind, to let you know that from this point forward I will be buttoning it up. No more midnight tweets, no more attacks on my opponents, and no more putting my interests before those of the country. I will be the President of and for all the people and will govern in a sane, rational and non-discriminatory manner.
That’s a desirable storyline but not a plausible one given our understanding of who Trump is at his core. Indeed, if Trump had held a press conference making the April 1 “fake news” announcement we have fabricated, Trump being Trump would immediately leave the conference and tweet, “April Fools! The joke is on you. More trumper-tantrums and trump-foolery to come. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
During World War II, the phrase “Loose Lips Sink Ships” was coined and promoted widely to ensure that American and English citizen soldiers would not engage in unguarded talk and inadvertently disclose important information to the enemy.
In this 21st century, as we stand near the precipice of major conflicts and with traditional alliances torn asunder, we have a President of the United States who not only engages in unguarded talked but advertently discloses important information through his tweets. We have a President who cannot discriminate among those who are our enemies and those who are our allies.
Given this, the phrase for our times should be “Trump’s Tweets Cause Chaos”. This is not a formula for stability or harmony. It more likely portends disasters to come.
This is our New Year’s Lament. The citizens of the United State and the world have been buttonholed by Donald Trump and are trapped in a dangling conversation. We do not know how and when that conversation will end.
The signs are not promising. But, we will pray and hope for the best.