In the third and final presidential debate this week, Trump spoke a line that undoubtedly cost him the last of any Latino support he might have had. Speaking of immigrants, and with his face in his usual squint of disapproval, he muttered archly, “We have some bad hombres here… and we’re gonna get ’em out.”
Or at least that seems to be what he intended to utter. I think if you’re going to insult people in their own language you should at least learn to pronounce it correctly. What he actually said was not ‘hombres’—men—but ‘hambres’—hungers.
And in that he is correct. There are some bad hungers out there, and they might account for Trump getting as far as he has. Even if he is soundly defeated, as I firmly hope he will be, those hungers will continue to gnaw away at our common fabric unless we pay attention and address them:
This isn’t a bad hunger in and of itself—we all feel it. It’s a primary need, perhaps even stronger than sex. And millions of people in this country are struggling to maintain their sense of self-worth, because it’s very hard to feel worthy when you lose your house, when your job goes away, when you are scraping pennies together to pay the electricity bill. Where this hunger turns bad is when we gain that sense of value by putting someone else down, when we elevate ourselves by denigrating another person or another group. It’s like the energy-drink of self-esteem, a cheap shot that pumps you up for a moment but doesn’t truly nourish. Or maybe, like cocaine; (what about that sniffing? Just saying….) dangerously addictive.
This arises from Hunger Number One, above, and Trump has turned it into a national sport. When something distresses us, the go-to reaction is to blame somebody else. That is how politicians serve us so well—better, even, than your ex-spouse. Trump is a master at it—he manages to blame Clinton for everything that has or hasn’t happened in the last thirty years—as if she had been Absolute Monarch instead of Senator and Secretary of State in a system with many conflicting powers contesting one another.
It’s natural, when somebody hurts you, to want to hurt them back. Most of us learn to resist this urge sometime around kindergarten, but it remains in those deep recesses of the heart. When we blame, we desire to punish. Seems only fair. You hurt me—I long to hurt you, to teach you a lesson. This hunger is dangerous, as it can so easily instigate violence. Trump’s election—should the Gods hate us all—threatens to unleash the pitbulls of violence against women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims and anyone else who becomes a target.
Bad hungers are not just the purview of the right wing.
We are all susceptible. I hear people on the left, disappointed that Sanders is not our candidate, wanting to teach the Democratic Party a lesson, eager to blame Clinton for everything including Trump’s candidacy itself, looking for conspiracies behind every rock, or feeling powerless, giving up on the political system altogether and giving away the power they do have.
Resist the Bad Hungers!
Fill yourself up with real self-worth, not based on money or shallow attention, but real relationships, community, the work you do that means something to you. For every hour you spend reading the internet or obsessing about conspiracy theories, spend two walking in nature, or playing with your kids, or working on something you care about.
Then go out and vote, not out of petulance, but out of hope, for the person you believe will create the best conditions over the next four years for building deeper community, planetary health and true abundance.
I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton—although I know she’s not perfect. But I admire her courage under fire, I applaud her strong defense of women’s rights, and I trust her to move us in the direction I want to go. Not to get us there—that’s up to us to organize, pressure, and envision the new world. But to create the best conditions in which we can do so.