2016-05-25 / Opinion

Why I am for Donald Trump

* Kirby Olson is a Humanities Professor at SUNY- Delhi. His recent collection of poems is called Christmas at Rockefeller Center (WordTech 2015). * Kirby Olson is a Humanities Professor at SUNY- Delhi. His recent collection of poems is called Christmas at Rockefeller Center (WordTech 2015). I am a Humanities professor, so you would probably think – “he’s for Bernie.” However, I am for Donald Trump. How can it be? A Humanities professor for Donald Trump? Donald Trump is a vulgarian! He has strange hair! He cannot write a sentence that rises above the kindergarten level! Let me explain my thought process.

The other day I went to Utica. Utica is devastatingly depressing, but there are things in Utica that alleviate the horror. They have, for example, the Munson- Williams-Proctor Museum. Awful period decor littered one half of the Munson Proctor, built with steel and oil money at the turn of the century. It houses what was then the awful but elite taste of a community-minded aristocracy that ran most of Utica. The other half of the building was nice - designed by Philip Johnson. They had a tiny but exquisite collection of paintings bequeathed by a Hamilton College art professor. They had a Salvador Dali and a Charles Burchfield and a lovely Gino Severini, among many other artifacts. Salvador Dali was a Roman Catholic monarchist, and Severini was an Italian fascist, whose work was devoted to modernism, and to violence, and to the most delicate color schemes anyone can imagine. I don’t really fall into either the monarchist or the fascist camp, as I am an ordinary small-town Lutheran, with an interest in surrealism, and in the history of Christianity from its beginning. The painter Charles Burchfield lived in Ohio and did regional watercolors. I appreciate it when people stay home. I still haven’t answered the question of why I am for Trump. Might I hint at it? I grew up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. I am Appalachian. I left, and lived in Seattle, in France, and in Finland, and now live in tiny Delhi. So what does all this have to do with being for Donald Trump?

I walked across the street from the Munson Proctor Museum to the Utica Public Library and an older couple was screaming at one another. The man said, “I just want you to try!” The woman, who was somewhat older (50 with lots of miles on her) as well, and looked like she may have drunk something with alcohol in it (even though it was still before noon), yelled back, “I’m done trying, and now I’m leaving!”

The man said, “Before you leave, can I have 75 cents for the bus?”

She kept walking, and stepped into traffic on Genesee Street. Cars weaved around her.

“Hey, get out of the road!” he yelled.

“I don’t care!” she yelled, as she walked on. I wondered if he would put an end to her drama and pull her out of traffic and hug her.

After putting a slip for my new book of poems into the suggestion box at the Utica Public Library, I went back out. The older couple had vanished. I walked back across the street to a Ukrainian Catholic Church with a radiant door. Christ was depicted in gold with rays of light emanating from his divine form. I asked a nonagenarian who was watering flowers if she could let me in.

“I don’t have cheese to the kirk,” she said. She had meant “keys to the church,” and we both laughed. “There are too many robberies.”

Around me lay the sprawled ruins of Utica, the sprawled ruins of a city that had been functional and more, and where Eastern Europeans and African Americans had flocked. However, the private sector is in a process of collapse throughout the Rust Belt. Where there was once thriving industrial production, there are now only vast empty buildings and crumbling infrastructure. Entrepreneurs, such as those who created the industrial foundations of Utica, are the true artists of a society. Many think that fine artists are the rarest of all creatures. In fact, they are a dime a dozen. In almost no cases does anyone want their creations. Entrepreneurs are the true artists of our society. Unlike artists such as Dali or Picasso, the works of successful entrepreneurs create thousands of jobs.

The Munsons and the Proctors and the Donald Trumps, take enormous risks with capital, and when their risks work out, as they have with the local Chobani factory, or as they once did with oil and steel throughout the Rust Belt, millions of people can live off of the profits. Government inspires no one with their free checks. They ask nothing and they provide next to nothing, and they cause moral collapse.

Entrepreneurs inspire all of us. At a smaller level, most of us are entrepreneurial. A true entrepreneur is a visionary who sees a niche, and imagines a product, and gets it out to consumers. Whether it is lipstick or yogurt or steel, it makes its way through many hands, employing all. Many feel vengeance toward the entrepreneurs for their luxurious lifestyles, but we should love them instead, as a successful entrepreneur has imagined something impossible for most of us to imagine, and made their dream come true. This, in turn, helps them to capitalize on the American Dream.

Many Democrats want to replace them with dull bureaucrats who will guarantee fairness, but what happens when the replacement has been achieved? All the jobs leave. The tax base disappears. When all of our entrepreneurs have gone to Third World countries, what is left? Everything in Utica has gone over to the great box stores of New Hartford, across the river. Utica has collapsed.

As I sat before the locked door of the Ukrainian Catholic church, I thought of an aphorism by Ramon Gomez-Davila, a conservative Colombian philosopher: “Surviving fragments of the past put to shame the modern landscape in which they stand.”

I am for Donald Trump because he has promised to make America great again. Perhaps, as the older man said to his departing lover, “I just want to see you try!” If Donald Trump is at least willing to love and hold America, and pull it out of traffic, try and put in 16 hour days to get America back on its entrepreneurial feet, I say let him!

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