Playing with a Full Deck: Trump Tweets, Tarot Cards, and Creative Transformation
Unexpected Outbursts Generate Unconventional Reactions
President Donald Trump’s tweets and “Trumpisms” have confused many people in both political parties and the media because they are not conventional modes of political or rational discourse. Rather, they tend to be unexpected short emotional concepts or outbursts, that generate a lot of reactions, positive and negative, as well as a lot of creative ideas.
Many people credit Trump’s victory to the emotional resonance that many middle-class citizens have with phrases like “drain the swamp,” “build the wall,” and “provide affordable health care,” even though there were very few well-articulated plans or policies yet developed to transform these ideas into reality.
Tarot cards, when used by a constructive Tarot reader, or the ancient Chinese Yi Jing (I Ching), work similarly to stimulate creative thoughts about problems people face. For example, a good Tarot reader who throws down the card “Death,” does not say “you are going to die,” but “you could die if you don’t alter your path.” And, other cards laid down in a spread convey other forces at work that can help you think about ideas for changes you could make.
Tarot as Archetypes of Transformation
Psychologist Carl G. Jung argued that Tarot’s trump cards embody “archetypes of transformation.” In other words, they represent universal symbols possessing the greatest constancy, efficiency, and potentiality for psychic evolution, and point toward superior thoughts and actions. Tarot decks evolve with cultural evolution, and the most recent Tarot deck by Art Rosengarten, Tarot of Nine Paths: Advanced Tarot for the Spiritual Traveler,(1) contains cards with archetypes for individuation, renewal, integration, wholeness, and other terms that relate to higher forms of consciousness.
An individual caught up in daily routines often forgets many of the facets of life that need to be considered when thinking about a solution to a problem, and focuses on his or her immediate needs or pain. If one thinks of the variety of responsibilities and the many complex factors that go into making a full life or a good social policy decision, one realizes that the Democratic and the Republican Party rhetoric play with less than “half a deck.” Democrats stress economic justice and care for the needy, Republicans stress personal responsibility and efficiency. Given the range of archetypes presented by systems like Tarot or the Yi Jing, if the rhetoric of the republicans and democrats are combined, they are still playing with less than a full deck.
In his speech in Cedar Rapids, IA, on June 21, Donald Trump suggested “put solar panels on the wall between the U.S. and Mexico” so it can help pay for itself. That stimulates a whole additional set of thoughts about how the wall might be made. One of the first things I learned in a course on Creativity in Design while in a college engineering course at the University of Minnesota, was to think regarding novel language to evoke creative thoughts. The teacher suggested that if you say the word “submarine,” you immediately think of the blimp-like design of a Navy submarine. But what if you think of a function and say “we need an underwater pickup truck,” suddenly your brain is filled with concepts associated with different words and alternative images appear.
Some people react to these novel ways of looking at things by retrenching and attacking, like kids who do not want to eat food on their plate they have never seen before. There may be some natural survival instinct that kicks in at the fear of the unknown. But creative transformation can be aided by encountering novel concepts and disturbing thoughts, and Trump’s tweets tend to cause defensive reactions by the establishment of both parties, and gossip by the established media that have not learned these tweet can stimulate constructive and new thoughts about solving important issues.
Playing with a Full Deck
“Playing with a full deck” is another way of saying that all of your faculties are fully functioning and working together. Traditional cultural systems tried to provide this, with ceremonies to commemorate important stages of life, laws that, if obeyed, enabled people to live well together, and advice on how to live a full and constructive life that included raising the next generation and leaving the world better than you found it,
Today our political parties might each latch on to up to half a dozen of the concepts that underlie Tarot (27 in Rosengarten’s Advanced Tarot) or the Yi Jing (64). The News Media that are owned by Wall Street firms are driven by even fewer concepts, ratings, and profit. Therefore it is not surprising when people face all the issues presented by a full deck some time in their lives, that our current political parties and news media, lack the underlying archetypes to understand citizens or solve problems satisfactorily.
Trumpisms at Face Value
Whether Trump is playing with a full deck himself is not the focus of this article. In fact, many of his political appointments reflect traditional establishment interests: big banks and Wall Street. Many of the Republicans feel they have some kind of mandate for their established platform, just because they won, but in many cases, those interests are also “part of the swamp,” at least as how the middle class or small business owners imagine the swamp. But Trump has had to consider many more factors as a business owner and parent, than the focused special interests that fight over taking money from federal coffers to serve themselves. His tweets are like flipping over Tarot cards to stimulate new ways to do things.
The government system is extremely dysfunctional, as established interests gradually amended procedures, rules, and even the constitution to give extreme power to the two major political parties and usurp it from states and citizens. Trumpisms, like the Tarot, can once again remind us of subconscious ideals and stimulate our imagination in ways that bring about creative solutions. In that way, Trump’s tweets inspire citizens more than politicians who say he is crazy and dangerous but offer no solutions. The current system oscillates from thinking about a few cards when Democrats are in the majority, and a few different cards when Republicans are in the majority, while neither one of those formulations is considered even half a deck by most citizens.
The President does not Legislate
Political parties say what they will do if their candidate is elected; so Trump promises a wall to curtail illegal immigration, better health care, and a host of other things he has no power to legislate. As the chief administrator and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, his role is to run the country the best he can administer it, using the laws and resources available, and provide the most efficient solutions to national goals. His job is not to write legislation, only to recommend what he believes needs to be done and indicate what types of legislation he would sign if it reaches his desk.
Some news commentators seem not to understand this process when they ask why Trump “didn’t accomplish his goals in 100 days.” Perhaps a dictator can force things like that to happen, but democracies do not pass laws that do not have a clear majority of people behind them.
Therefore Trump’s tweets transmit his goals, even if cryptically, to the larger citizenry in ways not controlled by established interests, reminding citizens of underlying life archetypes and needs that the political system needs to address. This stimulates electing representatives and senators who reflect broader interests–a full deck–rather than the narrow interests of the monied lobbyists who would like to have all legislators focused on their wants.
Developing a System Approach
The role of the U.S. government is to govern an entire society, to ensure it is whole, healthy, prosperous, and good. For too long it has ignored legislation that serves the purpose of the whole society and its citizens. Wars have not been fought by the rules of just war theory but have been pushed by military-industrial interests and lobbies for other countries. Money has been handed out to the poor, often not to improve their lives but to keep them as passive dependents with dependable votes. We need defense, and compassion, but should not be an agressor or a new type of plantation farmer. We need domestic infrastructure, but not cantracts awarded to cronies. We need a good helath care system, not laws written by insurance or drug companies.
For too long, the United States government has been playing with less than half a deck. When an individual functions with less than half a deck, he will have his driver’s license revoked, will not receive a gun permit, and is often placed in an asylum. Why should we not feel the same way about our government and its officials? Why do we allow political parties motivated by narrow interests to entrench themselves in government, when we have a non-establishment clause for religions that are playing with bigger decks, even if they might not be up-to-date decks?
Trump’s tweets cause people to think about health care, immigration, bureacracies, taxes, and security in new and novel ways. We are in the midst of an economic social transformation based on the internet that may bring more changes that the industrial revolution. Computers can replace many bureaucratic jobs, just like large industries replaced people making products by hand. Despite these great upheavals, it will do no good to react with fear, hatered, or a demand that things be done the way they were before. And the best way to solve our problems is to play with a full deck: to understand all the forces at work in all the organs of complex society, an enable them all to do their part for the functioning of the whole, rather than being focused on their own growth with no regard for the whole like a cancer.
It may be that the current Republican majority will try to promote established Republican lobbyist interests during this period they have a majority, just as the Democrats did under Obama, but at some point people will stop electing either party unless they can show that they a playing with a full deck after they win office. Lockstep party voting is a clear sign that a legislator is not an independent thinker, playing with a full deck, but a party puppet. Two hundred years of picking apart checks and balances designed to prevent the system we have today need to be reveresd by a politics of higher consciousness. Ironically, Trump’s tweets, like Tarot cards or the Yi Jing, might be providing a creative jolt to political minds operating like drones for far too long.
Solar panels on Mexican border walls are a concept that stimilate creative transformation like many other ideas one can gain by reading a tweet or turning over a Tarot card and asking, “Is there something in this concept that has been ignored in the way we have done it before?” “If so, lets think of ways we could do it better that would serve everyone.”
- Art Rosengarten, Tarot of Nine Paths: Advanced Tarot for the Spiritual Traveler, Paragon House, 2009. (See the Introduction that comes with this deck for an explanation of the theory).
When I think or Trumps tweets, unforced errors come to my mind, not imaginative concepts. I think what people say counts, especially public figures and most certainly the office of the President. When Trump said, “we do not need NATO,” his Secretaries of State and Defense had to state what the policy of the government really was. Certainly he is free to communicate in any way he chooses, and his tweets and what appears to be random comments are central to keeping what would be stories that would fade quickly to evolve into unforced errors, and has ngoing controversies, to use a tennis analogy. Maybe Tarot cards are not my thing.
In my state of Pennsylvania, Trump won by 44,000 votes out of over 6.0 million cast, the thinnest of margins. It was a remarkable victory here as registered Democrats out number registered Republican by over 900,000. We elected a Democratic governor two years ago unseating a Republican, making him a one term governor, which has not been the norm here. I think this governor will be reelected in 2018. The difference was turnout in rural area, which was over 70% in many places. They are expecting jobs to return to areas where economic growth ended sometimes 40 years ago. We live on the edge of such areas. The President and the Congress need to deliver a lot more than imaginative tweets to keep these folks as true believers.
The Democratic governor and the Republican controlled legislature here just passed a public pension reform bill that converts funding to a mix of traditional pension funding and 401K style funding. They are also close to changing how public education if funded. We also have beefed up our own transportations n funding, not waiting for D.C. To come up with something. Solid lefislative work, a lot less grandstanding and no imaginative communications seem to be working here.
I am glad to hear of constructive things being accomplished in Pennsylvania. It should be easier to get enough consensus at the state level than in Washington. I was not advocating that we try to solve problems through Tarot or tweets, but I have seen them spark both more gossip and constructive thinking than the establishment there, because that legislation is largely controlled by political parties and lobbyists, and a sign of that is lockstep party voting that reveals very little creative or no ndependent thought. Something like tweets might not solve problems, but it is shaking a few things up so they be able to think about constructive change later.