William Emerson “Dusty” Rhodes is one of my oldest and dearest friends.
We bitterly fought for audience as teenage DJs on competing radio stations in Syracuse while still in high school back in the late 50s, but I was Dusty’s best man when he married Jo Anne after heading west and becoming Cincinnati’s top-rated air personality in 1962.
While remaining active in broadcasting through the years on a more limited basis, Dusty went on to enjoy great success as a Paine Webber stockbroker, simultaneously becoming involved in local politics.
First elected as a Trustee in Delhi Township, Ohio, Dusty is now in his seventh term as Hamilton County Auditor, having held this office for the last 26 years. Hamilton County, with a population exceeding 800,000, includes the city of Cincinnati. For quite some time, Dusty was the only Democrat holding major office in county government.
Dusty Rhodes loves Donald Trump.
He called me Friday afternoon and right off the bat asked me what I thought of the Republican convention. This is called “baiting,” which Webster defines as “to tease or goad so as to provoke a strong reaction.”
Surely knowing better, I jumped like Pavlov’s dog and went for it. Initially exploding into an emotionally-charged diatribe furiously filled with indisputable facts and undeniable figures, it soon became evident I was raging in vain.
Dusty, a graduate of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and one of the brightest people I know, doesn’t care if Donald Trump builds a wall, water boards prisoners, makes fun of cripples, demeans women or strangles tiny starving orphans with rusty barbed wire. I made that last one up, but should have thought of it at the time. Darn.
Dusty Rhodes wants Donald Trump elected because he wants “a change” since “nothing is working.” And Dusty hates Hillary.
I suggested that supporting Donald Trump requires complete dismissal of certain glaring realities and overt suspension of any pretense of fair judgment, but decided not to add that because it might be viewed as an act of moral abrogation bordering on intellectual cowardice. Friends don’t talk that way. Overheated rhetoric is reserved for bar room rants, back room brawls and newspaper columns.
I remain firmly convinced that Donald J. Trump is an oozing, open, festering sore on our American body politic. Yet many well-intended, otherwise responsible citizens seem to see him as a simple solution, if not sole savior as he so humbly self declares. As witnessed by Dusty’s mystifying allegiance, it has become uncomfortably evident they are deadly serious – mortally and terminally committed to see President Trump take office in January. I am therefore forced to speculate such folly represents nothing less than a classic death wish.
In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the demon of death. Sigmund Freud chose to use that word in defining the death drive – a powerful instinct toward chaos – ever lurking in our psychoanalytic nature.
According to Freud, we all basically have two life instincts, “Eros,” which drives us to thrive and survive, and “Thanatos,” which often causes us to engage in risky, self-destructive acts. It is theorized by some that this subconscious yearning for death masks a desire to return to our original, inorganic state, but we’ll leave such speculation to greater minds.
One primary quality commonly associated with a serious reflection on destructive behavior makes perfect sense in trying to figure out what’s happening with Trump. Simply stated, let’s consider the phenomenon of stress relief. Just letting go. The Rolling Stones might call it, “Some kind of ventilator.” In fact they have. Often we just can’t help ourselves.
Smoking. Racing. Cutting. Skydiving. Speeding. Fighting. Fasting. Overworking. Defiant drinking. Dirty dancing. Dangerous dating.
All bring temporary satisfaction offering genuine emotional release and a sense of immediate personal control as phony and fake as the empty promises of Donald J. Trump.
Even another old friend, film director Michael Moore, has come to believe that Trump will be our next president. Mike states with typical restraint - “This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president.”
Among other reasons, Mr. Moore cites “The Jesse Effect” - observing that the people of Minnesota once elected a professional wrestler as governor -“ just because they could” and “voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system.”
I know this all sounds crazy. We’re living in crazy times. If you don’t feel crazy, you’re crazy. I’m crazy too.
Crazy loves company.
But don’t vote for Trump.
“It's a death trap, it’s a suicide rap” - Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run” - 1975.