This is an excerpt from an paper I wrote for my ethics class about ethical egoism.
“Rugged individualist theory,” or what I like to call “the bootstraps theory,” has been the rally cry of the GOP since Reagan. “The bootstraps theory,” simply put, is “I have pulled myself up by my own bootstraps and worked hard for what I have, so everyone else should/can do the same.” This theory is usually spouted by a white male while talking about “welfare queens” or some other generally misrepresented group. The major problem, of which there are many, with this perspective is it discounts both the propping up of white (or financial, educational, and community) privilege and the devastation of racial and class oppression.
Trump is basically running on a “bootstraps” platform, not only with his “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, but also his insistence that he is a self-made man. This is appealing to a portion of the American population that has sown the benefits of privilege and has not had much experience with, and understanding of, the effect class and race oppression has on whole communities of people.
A deeper dive into the his “bootstraps” stance reveals that his popularity is also buoyed by, not only, the idea he is a self made man, but also that he tows no line because of the immense wealth he proclaims even exists and was built with the help of no one. It’s reveling about his followers that they believe any of this drivel. This narrative is ridiculously and apparently false. Trump started his career with $1million from his father, as well as a $40million inheritance from his grandfather in 1974 — this, by definition, excludes him from being a “self-made man”. Starting your career with name recognition, millions in cash, and millions more in credit proves singularly that he has profited from others. That is just the beginning.
I feel this “bootstraps” theory is what is currently driving a wedge in our country. Countless Americans are feeling disenfranchised and Trump is praying on this. Politician after politician has been speaking up to oppose Trump’s rugged individualism, decrying his aggressive and agitative stance on just about everything. They all seem to agree that it is dangerous that Trump believes that he alone, as he has stated on many many occasions, is the best at everything – including making decisions about foreign affairs. The leader of the free world has advisors for a reason, just as cooperation and affection come naturally to members of our deeply social species, humans require impute from others to be ultimately successful. Just look at North Korea, Cuba, and all other countries governed by a dictator.