Trump or Social Progress

by | Apr 26, 2018

TAA 0016 – C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood discuss the perils and the possibilities of a Trump presidency. Does symbolic cultural progress matter, and if it does, what does Trump’s election mean for the country?

C.T. WEBB 00:16 [music] All right. Good afternoon. Good morning or good evening, whenever you happen to be listening, and welcome to the American Age Podcast. Today Steven Fullwood and I are talking. Steven, how are you doing?
S. FULLWOOD 00:25 I’m doing pretty well. How are you doing, Travis?
C.T. WEBB 00:27 I’m pretty good. The weather has finally broken out that way, yeah? You’re heading into spring?
S. FULLWOOD 00:31 A little bit. We’re heading into spring but there was a lot of rain for about 24 hours, or so. And now it’s breaking up a bit. There’s some sunshine out right now, which is great.
C.T. WEBB 00:41 Yeah, it was like 90 yesterday here, and then back to some kind of normal April weather, so. Yeah. Today we’re talking about a topic that I have conscientiously avoided [laughter]. Not in inner personal conversations. Not with family, but in relation to The American Age. And that is Donald Trump and Trumpism, and all the baggage that goes along with that. So I asked Steven, earlier in the weekend, if he wanted to talk about it and he said, “Let’s do it.” Steven, like I said, I opened up– I’ve been reluctant to talk about Trump, because I feel like as soon as you take a position on Trump, you are immediately raising peoples antenna for partisanship, and us versus them mentality. And I really studiously tried to avoid that with The American Age. It’s not what I wanted to do with it. It’s more about trying to defend and promote a more robust middle in American public discourse. A more self-reflective discourse. Self-critical discourse.
As opposed to us versus them.
C.T. WEBB 02:00 I felt kind of cowardly about it, which I was just saying to you before the podcast. So I’d like to open it up to you [laughter]. And actually you had some great comments when we were kind of warming at the beginning. So I’ll leave it to you.
S. FULLWOOD 02:18 Well, when you first brought the idea to me, I remember thinking that Trump is an exciting topic to think about. I’ll tell you what excites me about it– about him being a topic, but also about what his presidency sort of makes me consider. But I’m also going to ask you what excites you about Trump [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 02:46 That’s a great question. That’s a great question.
S. FULLWOOD 02:48 Well, because most of the reporting, as you said, has been partisan, but sometimes it’s devoid of any complexity. A lot of it doesn’t have any history outside of 2016. So for me, I remember when I first thought about Trump, consciously thought about what he could do as president was, okay, so now we have– and I’m not a New Yorker, but I remember hearing about Trump when I wasn’t here. I was in Ohio and then in Georgia. But Trump had his own reality show kind of prior to the reality show being a reality show. Meaning that he was this big rich guy in New York City, and for the rest of us in the interlands, we weren’t privy to a lot of the noise. A lot of the actual things that Trump was doing. We were just there to– we got to celebrate him because he’s got money. Trump Tower.
S. FULLWOOD 03:43 Then he actually had a reality show [laughter], The Apprentice. And so that went national. First it was a local, then it was a national. And now its become a global thing. So we’re watching this show. I’m not sure if you’re aware of a comedian by the name of Doug Stanhope.
C.T. WEBB 04:01 No, doesn’t sound familiar.
S. FULLWOOD 04:02 He’s intense. He’s a lovely guy. He’s always sort of drinking and smoking on stage. He’s really got some insightful thoughts. And I was listening to him the other day, and he goes– he’s in Australia on the show and people were asking him what about Trump. And he goes, “Well, you know,” he says, “I don’t really follow it, but I’ll be there for the finale.” And [laughter] actually feel like folks will be there for the finale.
C.T. WEBB 04:22 Yes, yes. We will all be there for the finale.
S. FULLWOOD 04:25 Right. Of course. We’ll have to be. But I follow Trump news, I read Michael Wolff’s book, which is really–
C.T. WEBB 04:32 Oh, you did? You did, okay.
S. FULLWOOD 04:33 A friend of mine sent it to me for free. I didn’t buy it. But this guy writes for Vanity Fair, Michael Wolff, and so that’s what you get. You got a little bit– you got the salacious details, whether they were true or not, behind the decisions, whether it was the immigration ban. Whether it was the travel ban, excuse me, and other things that were going on in the White House. I mean, you had Steve Bannon. You had Ivanka and Jared. And you had Priebus. And so when I read it I was going, “Trump is really a simple character,” despite what Comey says about him. Comey said recently, he didn’t think that he had any– he was getting older and mentally compromised. He goes, “This is a more than average smart man. He’s just morally deficient.” I think the book– I think that’s generous. Based on what you see and how you watch Trump comport himself in front of people he’s– he is id all the way. He’s just id.
S. FULLWOOD 05:31 In a way that excites me. That’s fun. Because I don’t really have to think very much about, “What does he actually mean?” I mean, because this guy just told you what he means. And I think that right now we have to stop thinking of ourselves as being sort of trapped in this situation of Trump, but really try to capitalize on it. As I mentioned to you prior to the podcast, how much better can we be? Because we have this guy who has thrown– he’s really ripped off the curtain. We’re looking behind the scenes. And we’re looking behind the production here. We’re looking at what a lot of politicians are about. I mean, they’re just not very good at it, and that’s why we have this relatively empty White House right now. We’re watching something unprecedented, which I think is amazing, but our charge is to learn how to do this better. So it won’t be another democratic. It won’t be another republican. It won’t be another independent. It will be us.
C.T. WEBB 06:26 Yeah, yeah. So I think two things in relation to what you just said. One, I think you’ve hit on something– I liked the question, “What excites you [laughter] about Trump?” I think it’s a fair question. I think it’s a provocative question. And I think it forces, whoever you are, I think it forces you to kind of sort of sit back on yourself, and look at your responses to the presidency. The second part I take slight exception to [laughter], because I don’t think that Trump reveals the naked transactional aspect of all politicians that’s ever present. I do believe–
S. FULLWOOD 07:16 Of course. Of course not.
C.T. WEBB 07:16 I do believe that absolutely there are plenty of id driven politicians, which has probably always been true. Particularly kind of took center stage with the Tea Party movement after the election of President Obama. I think that the complete– the apparent absence of scruples in the presidency, is atypical. It may not be unique. It may not be unique, but–
S. FULLWOOD 07:57 [crosstalk] broadcast.
C.T. WEBB 07:58 Yeah. I don’t believe that was true of– I certainly don’t believe that was true of Obama. I don’t believe that was true of Bush. I don’t believe that was true of Clinton. I don’t think that was true of Reagan either. I think these are people– wherever we may fall, in relation to their politics, and at least half the people on that list I follow pretty far on the opposite spectrum from what they believe, particularly Reagan. I mean, he got a lot of flack. Actor, kind of shallow thinker, etc. That he deeply– and in his journals– I mean, if you believe he’s being honest with his journals, which I don’t see a reason to find that suspect, he deeply believed in the American idea. And he deeply believed in–
S. FULLWOOD 08:50 What is this American idea? I mean, go ahead. Go ahead. Sorry.
C.T. WEBB 08:53 No, no. So the American idea in that you can forge your own way. Now, that may not be true or not, right? And we’ve talked about this on the podcast before, that for a lot of Americans that is a fiction, and not a mythology, right? Because we drew that distinction before. It’s really just a straight up fiction. You can’t actually just sort of pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But that mythology is deeply ingrained in the idea of what– like it inspires immigrants. I finally watched the first season of Master of None, and it’s all over the first season of Master of None. I mean, this idea that you can go to this place, and you do not have to be beholden to the history that ordained your family as like zipper makers, or something like that. I think that was the reference in the show. And that that mythology has real value for millions of people. Not just in the United States, but around the world. So those are baseline principles. You may disagree with how they want to actualize those principles, but I don’t believe–
S. FULLWOOD 10:16 I dare say [laughter]–
C.T. WEBB 10:18 But it’s a different issue entirely when you are dealing with someone that finds every utterance, and every principle, to serve his own– just egotistical ends. There’s no emergency brake.
S. FULLWOOD 10:43 Okay. Because I feel like the past presidents that you named, all had the benefit of a certain kind of– they all had certain kinds of restraint. Restraint, or ten times a better image. But back then it’s all context. I mean, the first Bush years, the second Bush years. Clinton, he threw the Surgeon General under the bus. He threw Lonnie Granier under the bus. You know about the harsher sentences for folks with drug offenses. There were a number of things that absolutely– their actualization of the American fiction, are we calling it? Ideal? What are we calling it, fiction?
C.T. WEBB 11:29 I would call it mythology rather [laughter] than fiction.
S. FULLWOOD 11:31 Okay. Yeah, that’s right. Just caught it a second ago. I think that the way that Trump goes about it is is that we inherited– I don’t think that we deserve, but I definitely think, obviously, we inherited a man whose ideas and utterances, his principles, and all of that, are just so base. So human, in a sense, nakedly human, that it’s hard not to– like when I think about people who– not conversely, but sort of like go against their own religion. Evangelicals who claim that he’s great and everything. I’m thinking but you’re going against the very thing that you claim you believe. I mean, Pat Robertson says, “God took him up to heaven and he saw that Trump was sitting on the right side.” I’m like, “Wasn’t that supposed to be Jesus, [laughter], right?”
S. FULLWOOD 12:24 That says something profoundly about the allure and the seduction of a Trump, and for people who want to see something in him in themselves, even if they’re poor. Even they are going to lose healthcare. Even if the policies he puts in place, whether it– I’ve listened to people, Trump supporters, different kinds of Trump supporters, not just white Americans, or middle-class, or poor white Americans. But immigrants, black conservatives, they see something there that I mean, I’m fascinated. I just feel like I must be on LSD. I just have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m being a little crazy with it, but I do see something that’s there and it’s this idea of power. Being economically empowered, being empowered to– not be politically correct. Call a nigger a nigger. Or call a faggot a faggot. Call a bitch a bitch. That kind of thing. So it just feels like, on the level of vibration, it’s a really, really low vibration that we’re hosting and understanding right now, that’s in our face, in a way that Hillary wouldn’t have come off that way.
S. FULLWOOD 13:36 And I do agree that she’s a part of the establishment. I do believe that she is– her politics are very problematic. Someone told me years ago that when it came with the Clinton’s that one of the reasons why that they disconnected with the Gore’s, was that Bill and Hillary were like, “Okay,” but Hillary was like, “You first and then me.” So their politics over ran a lot of what they actually, possibly believed.
C.T. WEBB 14:02 Yes, but that’s dealing with the devil, right? And I’m okay with that. I mean, this is the danger that I feel of religious– or what I would call religious zealots, people that are true believers, Puritans. I’m okay with dealing with the devil. That’s all right with me. I don’t mind dealing with– I don’t want to deal with a Puritan. I mean, a Puritan in the larger sense of the word. Puritan’s actually themselves were far more complicated then they’re typically represented in popular culture. But I mean, Puritan in the more colloquial sense of it. Someone that is uncompromising in their values so that they can maintain a kind of purity, right? I’m using it in kind of a shorthand way, which is really not historically justified. These are the people that you can not transact with, right? So the fact that the Clinton’s had some venality in them, or that they were willing to do backroom deals to get certain things done. That’s just human interaction. That’s like straight up– that’s the political–
S. FULLWOOD 15:13 That’s politics.
C.T. WEBB 15:14 –arena. Yeah, that’s right. That’s like day to day, you scratch your back, I scratch– you scratch my back, I scratch yours kind of thing. Now, I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be principled guards up around that. In fact, that’s entirely what I’m advocating. Because there is a transactional nature to politics. Because politicians can horse trade, and because they can be bought, that makes them human. Okay, no problem. I’m fine with that. But when that’s all that it is [laughter], right? When that is the only principal. Or when that is the only criteria without principal, that’s when we start to have a serious problem, as a country, because then you believe that that’s what it always, always is. And I don’t believe that it is always, always that way.
C.T. WEBB 16:16 I do think that often times we run up against our desires in our principals, right? That’s character, right? And sometimes our test of character fail. And sometimes we surprise ourselves. Sometimes other people surprise us. But the things that you’ve pointed out, which I think are absolutely valid observations, are precisely problematic about the presidency, currently, because it does give license to people to sort of fly their uglier parts. We all have ugly parts–
S. FULLWOOD 17:01 We’ve been having those ugly parts since the Civil Rights movement. Since before–
C.T. WEBB 17:06 Before that actually.
S. FULLWOOD 17:08 Right, exactly. So I understand the issue you have with what I’m saying. I honestly feel like a more rigorous look at the American justice system, the American political system, is in order. And I think this way it does allow you to do that. I think that that–
C.T. WEBB 17:27 Like a disinfectant? So kind of– that it exposes things–
S. FULLWOOD 17:33 That are pretty ugly. We hear about them that might be backdoor kind of stuff, but Trump he’s unabashedly himself. And I feel–
C.T. WEBB 17:41 I’m kind of with you on that. I’m with you on that. Please go ahead, but I’m kind of with you on that. I mean, I do find
that–
S. FULLWOOD 17:48 I think the mythology–
C.T. WEBB 17:49 –persuasive.
S. FULLWOOD 17:50 –of the moral president, or the moral politician, is problematic as well. I feel like you said, you do deals with the devil. You try to get things done. I understand that part. I feel as if– so when do you think– my question earlier, not to you, but to a friend of mine was like, “So have we really progressed as a nation, or are we just really coming to some really clear understandings about how diverse, but also how discorded we are as a nation?”
C.T. WEBB 18:25 Progressive since when? Progressive since when?
S. FULLWOOD 18:27 See, that’s the thing [laughter]. I can’t seem to place a moment. I keep thinking that it’s possibly the Civil Rights movement. And there’s this sort of like glazed over moments where we have Reagan, but Carter was a blip. Carter who asked us to take more accountability for what we do, and they’re like, “Let’s get this mother fucker out of office [laughter].” I love that speech that he gave. And then Carter, who basically lived out his non-presidential life, doing the things he said he wanted to do. Some of those things anyway. But I was trying to wonder– I don’t feel like we progressed since the 60’s. I feel like there was incredible blowback. I feel like we have some progressive movements going. We have some progressive ideas. But there are things that the Trump presidency sort of illuminates on a very sort of ugly lights at a concert [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 19:17 And it’s a legitimate question, because my initial response to what you would say would be to pushback, and to challenge that we have moved since the 60’s. Mostly because I am tired of hearing that argument at academic conferences [laughter]. So that’s–
S. FULLWOOD 19:31 Okay. Yes, fair enough.
C.T. WEBB 19:35 –my emotional response to that. I get a little tired of kind of the utopic, like nothing is ever good enough. We’re still completely steeped in racist white ideology. So that note is discordant to me. But if I can interrupt that thought for a second, I guess I have a more constructive question that I would actually ask, which is, do you– and I feel that the answer can legitimately go either way. And I don’t know how I would answer it. Do you think that symbols, as measures of cultural progress, matter?
S. FULLWOOD 20:23 It’s a different question but yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay.
C.T. WEBB 20:26 So does it matter that one of– does it matter that we have symbols in America like King, Obama, Jay Z, Beyonce, Dave Chappelle? Are those symbols a legitimate indicator of an expansiveness within culture that was not there prior to the 60’s? Or are they smoke and mirrors, and they’re just a way to kind of appease [laughter] a sense of obvious iniquity?
S. FULLWOOD 21:01 I think a little bit of all of it, quite honestly. I think there are nominalist in a way. And I think that they are signifiers of a certain kind of progress, but they’re also within a different– each of those people exist within brackets. And they also follow a capital senseability, every single one of them. And with King, when we think about the poor people’s campaign, and what he was trying to do, would have really been a progressive movement, because it included all people regardless of race. It was dealing with economics. So I think it’s a little bit of all of it because I’m definitely moved as a person, as a black male, to see certain kinds of, what we call progress. But they’re never without criticism, and they’re never without– they might be without criticism to some people, because some people just see success as money. Or success as a certain kind of– and I’m thinking more or less about what is it that they’re actually saying?
S. FULLWOOD 22:00 What is it that they’re actually doing? A good example of Oprah would be, I want to say it was around 2004. I think it was around 2004, this is when James Frey, A Million Little Pieces, or A Million Pieces–
C.T. WEBB 22:11 Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
S. FULLWOOD 22:13 Right, remember she defended him? She went to the mat for him. And then she had him on her show when she had decided this man lied.
C.T. WEBB 22:21 That she had enough. That’s right. Yeah.
S. FULLWOOD 22:23 Right. And so she had him on the show and everybody in Oprah’s audience is well lit, well dressed, colorful and everything. And she always looks really cute, and all that. This man looked like he was sitting under a single bulb in a basement swinging [laughter]. He was sweating. His agent there, Nan, I think was her name, and I just remember thinking about Oprah– and people were– the media was looking at this as a– they were looking at Oprah being sort of embarrassed by the whole thing. And I was like, let’s take a little further. What he did was, he was fucking with her brand. She put that O on his cover and that threatened her brand. I was listening to her, she was just so shocked, and so upset about this. And I was like, this felt less moral than it did economic. And throughout the program, if you ever get the chance to see it, it’s an interesting moment.
C.T. WEBB 23:13 I don’t think you can separate the two. No, no, no. For someone like Oprah, I don’t think the moral– I mean, she’s kind of the latest iteration of the prosperity gospel, Norman Vincent Peale–
S. FULLWOOD 23:28 No, absolutely.
C.T. WEBB 23:29 The moral and the economic are not easily disentangled for Oprah. And for many Americans I might say.
S. FULLWOOD 23:39 Well many people, right. But I think that they can definitely be criticized, and definitely can be held accountable for certain kinds of behavior. Absolutely. Absolutely.
C.T. WEBB 23:50 I’m not saying that we shouldn’t question her. I’m saying that for her to suggest that somehow there was a dissimulation, or it was– that really the motivation was this, and it was disguised as that. For her, I don’t think you can pull those things apart very easily.
S. FULLWOOD 24:11 I don’t think I could pull them apart easily, but what I can do is is I can stay on this side of it [laughter]. And I can say, definitely, this is what you might have meant, and what you kind of believe, but here’s how I received it. And so that’s where I stand with that, and that kind of thing. I think that when it comes to progress in this country– why I really love this idea of symbols, because I think it’s a pointant one, that because, again, people are inspired by Barack Obama. I mean, they’ll be kids called Barack. They’re going to be kids called Barack.
C.T. WEBB 24:43 Absolutely. Absolutely.
S. FULLWOOD 24:45 These kinds of things. And so it’s his symbolism meant more to people than his policies, some of which were obscured by the fact that they– people saw him as victim of a largely white congress, and justice system, and so forth. But it was like, this man was a war monger. Everytime he got in front of some black people he was telling us to pull up our pants no matter if he was at Morehouse, the cream of the crop when it comes to young black men.
C.T. WEBB 25:15 Personally, I don’t think it’s really fair to pull the race criticism on him for that one, because that is the American mythology.
S. FULLWOOD 25:29 No, no, no. No, no, no.
C.T. WEBB 25:31 What he’s preaching is the American mythology for how one turns yourself into a citizen. It had nothing to do with whether they were black, or not. It’s–
S. FULLWOOD 25:44 Oh, really?
C.T. WEBB 25:44 –that this is [laughter] the– no, but this is the inherent ideology.
S. FULLWOOD 25:50 I know what you’re saying about the larger part of it. What I’m saying, is very specifically a black man is standing in front of a bunch of black students, who are graduating from a historically black college, and he’s telling them to pull their pants up. They are already know that. What else do you have to say other than this American kind of sense of– they’re already on that road. Do you have something else to say to the–
C.T. WEBB 26:15 Okay, all right. Okay, that’s a fair criticism.
S. FULLWOOD 26:17 And then another criticism would be how he even– Obama is not an African-American. He’s an African and an American. And so when he comes in front of– when he’s been in front of other people– someone’s working on a collection of some of his things. I’m going to go back to this. But he is an African-American in the sense that he is a product of both a white American and an African father. And there’s a difference. He doesn’t have the same cultural experiences that people who were born here, and who have lived here for centuries. He doesn’t have the same–
C.T. WEBB 26:56 You’re starting to draw boundaries around what qualifies as authentic black experience.
S. FULLWOOD 27:03 No, that’s what you’re hearing. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying he can have his black experience [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 27:07 I’m saying that’s the implication of what you’re saying.
S. FULLWOOD 27:10 Go right ahead. I’m saying that it does have something to do with how you relate to blackness, or black people in this country. When he starts to– Obama has never wrung his neck, or said anything kind of sassy in the sort of stereotypical black way, until he gets in front of groups of black people. Would he do that in front of the congress? He does not.
C.T. WEBB 27:29 That’s politics.
S. FULLWOOD 27:30 No, what that is code switching, and it’s a certain kind of code switching that’s not always welcome, or not even–
C.T. WEBB 27:36 And you don’t think– wait, wait. You don’t think Jay Z code switches when he steps in a boardroom?
S. FULLWOOD 27:41 I’m saying with Obama right now, and I’ll say with– I said that everybody code switch. I’m saying that’s not an appreciative thing. And sometimes it doesn’t come with anything. It’s just an attitude. Sometimes it’s the same old bullshit, and it’s the thing– it’s just a way of fake sort of relating to people. Absolutely.
C.T. WEBB 27:59 Okay. So let me narrow this down for a second. So I do, and just to clarify, it does sound to me like you are implying criticism when you label the code switch.
S. FULLWOOD 28:11 [crosstalk] is much more complicated then just being something where you’re talking to whites and so. Now, I’m talking to Travis, so I will always use this voice, and I will put periods at the ends of my sentences. Like this.
C.T. WEBB 28:22 But that is being a pro-social primate, you tend to emulate groups that you’re interacting with. For example, I will notice if I have conversations with friends that have certain colloquialisms. I will unconsciously begin to adapt those. Not because I’m trying to pretend to be something I’m not. But because I just– as a matter of unconscious empathy, will try to relate to that group that way. Now, I don’t think that is a measure of inauthenticity always. It might be sometimes, but I would suggest that the way that you just laid it out in an off-handed way, implies that– now maybe you didn’t mean this. And you’re saying that I heard it in a particular way, but to me you are implying that there is a kind of black American experience to which Obama makes rhetorical appeal but has not actually lived himself.
And I would say that [laughter] that’s the kind of policing of identity that is problematic.
S. FULLWOOD 29:36 See, when you say policing– okay. So I’ve been thinking– I think that labeling something, or put it at the very least, if not labeling, definitely put in a question mark there, is a productive way of thinking about things. Accepting that Obama is an African-American, and that he’s had a certain kind of shared experience with other kinds of African-Americans, when it comes to financially, economically, or culturally. I think that there’s something useful in that conversation. I’m not policing him so much as I’m identifying it. He can be all kinds of black, whatever he decides to be. And I’m sure he will be. What I’m saying is that I do label it– if not an authentic authenticity, I do put the question mark there and go, “What is that? What is it really?”
C.T. WEBB 30:29 Would you put the question mark in every black American experience?
S. FULLWOOD 30:34 I put it in every American experience.
C.T. WEBB 30:38 No, no. I mean, the whole sort of like the whole cake that we just kind of laid out.
S. FULLWOOD 30:45 In terms of symbolism, I question leaders. I question people who are allegedly doing things for the good of the people. That’s what I’m thinking about. So if the person’s white, black, green, blue, whatever, that’s what I think. But when you laid out the example of the symbols when it came to Jay Z, or Oprah, or Obama, or Martin Luther King, those were the people, like I said, I think they succeed within a particular kind of framework. Sometimes that’s seen as progressive, or seen as progress. I’m not sure if that’s totally it. So that’s kind of where I was going with the Obama thing, in terms of– but I wasn’t policing his blackness. I mean, how could I [laughter]?
C.T. WEBB 31:23 No, no, no. I would say– and you said you didn’t do that. To me, it did have a hint of that, but maybe I just misread that. But I do think– for me it really is– if I’m not being defensive about it, it really is an open question whether it is legitimate to hold up examples, as I will often do in conversation. And so I’m questioning myself here.
S. FULLWOOD 31:51 Necessary, yeah.
C.T. WEBB 31:53 I do think that it is problematic to hold up people like Oprah, and Jay Z, fill in the blank, as examples of cultural progress. When poverty, education and crime, and their effects on segregated communities in the United States are so apparent, and so deeply entrenched in the American system. And so I don’t know that it’s fair to hold those examples up as instances of real social progress.
S. FULLWOOD 32:34 I agree.
C.T. WEBB 32:35 And so, yeah. I would suspect that you do. I mean, you’re pretty consistent on that, which I actually appreciate. I guess I don’t know– I guess the thing that causes me to hesitate to embrace that idea entirely, is I don’t know how else progress happens, except by actualities following symbols.
S. FULLWOOD 33:07 That’s fair enough. I don’t have a lot to say about what progress looks like either. I think I do have some ideologies. I can relate to that. I understand that. I’m not advocating for the abolishment of symbols, for people that are doing things. You just have to put them in different kinds of context to see how they really sort of measure up, in terms of our ever evolving sense of what progress means in the US. And there’s no one definition, but I know that one of the more popular definitions is definitely prosperity. And prosperity meaning capitalism and being capitalist. That’s the main one. Like you said, it’s not [inaudible] to the US. It’s all over. It’s kind of like waking up in the morning, what do you want to do? You want to be better, or you want to strive? Possibly because these are the stories you’ve inherited.
S. FULLWOOD 34:03 So like you, I do question and think about, and wonder because I don’t have an answer for, what would progress look like? On one level I’d say, well, it would like an even playing field. But I’m not a student of capitalism, so my general sense is that somebody’s got to lose in capitalism [laughter]. Or at least on regulated capitalism.
C.T. WEBB 34:25 Yeah. I mean, I would say that someone’s got to lose in life, just in general. I mean, it’s–
S. FULLWOOD 34:30 Do they Travis? [crosstalk] they don’t [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 34:33 There actual material invitations on our individual prosperity. I mean, if we compete for– yeah, man, sports is a pretty solid metaphor for that. You can’t have two winners. Just to be clear, I do not think that at all means– as far as equality of opportunity goes, I think it’s very clear that we do not have an equality of opportunity in this country. And that that is a serious cancer on the society right now [crosstalk]–
S. FULLWOOD 35:09 Oh, yeah. It’s a lot of wasted fucking potential. It’s so much wasted potential. It was so much wasted potential, and I think that a political thing, like affirmative action, which was put in place to even the playing field out, not just for black people, but for women. People who are differently abled. It was a whole bunch of things. By the 90’s it had become– you’re just going out on the street and getting some black guy to work in corporate America. But that worked for people because of the culture we were in at the time, and still are, which is we say it’s meritocracy, but we know that it’s not [laughter]. We know that it’s not. We know that the smartest person isn’t in the room, or in the presidency. We know that that’s not the smartest person, or most thoughtful, engaged person. We know that. But I hear you. I hear you on that. I hear you.
C.T. WEBB 36:02 All right. So we will leave it there. Steven, I thank you very–
S. FULLWOOD 36:05 Travis.
C.T. WEBB 36:06 — much for the conversation [laughter], and I’ll look forward to talk to you next time.
S. FULLWOOD 36:11 Great. See you then.
C.T. WEBB 36:12 Take care. Bye-bye. [music]

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