Clifton Jolley: Not everyone has the chance to ‘Find something new'

Ivanka Trump’s solution to those put out of work by COVID-19 is simply to “Find Something New.”

But I am like most Americans: I’ve been trying new things all my life and discovered that, by and large, they give me indigestion.

Ivanka Trump has been protected from such realizations by the “tasters” most medieval royal families employed to protect them from the poison us peasants would happily have put in their soup.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald remarked that “the very rich...are different from you and me,” he was anticipating the tone-deaf stupidity of someone who has had every new thing she dreamed of readily financed. In short, she is not poor, she is not encumbered by age or debt, she does not work for a living, she was not as a child caged at a border, she never sacrificed her own physical comforts to keep her family fed and safe, and she never rode the bucking horse.

Years ago, spurred by the longings of childhood to try “cowboying,” I rode bareback bronc in a mock competition with Tom Barberi, at the time the principal Salt Lake City morning radio talk show host. What we both discovered — I broke ribs falling off and Tom got hung up in the rigging (resulting in a broken wrist but one heck of a ride!) — is that “new things” are not only less available to those of us who must pay for them with our blood and bone, they can hurt like hell.

How is it Her Highness in her wide-eyed breathlessness says otherwise? Fitzgerald explains:

“They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard ... in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think ... they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves.”

In other words, they’ve never been bucked off ... or if they were, all those dollar bills piled around them made for a softer landing.

One tries to imagine Ivanka or Jared experiencing the humiliation of a job interview, of “working their way up” in a serious, essential, unforgiving job that isn’t play acting at “cowboying.” Because that is what they are doing in the roles to which they were knighted, our unqualified king tapping each of them on the shoulder and saying, “Arise Sir Knight!”

It’s that mind-numbing privilege that blinds Ivanka to the deeply absurd irony of her campaign, as it does to the insensitive appropriation exhibited by one of her own “new things”: posing with a can of Goya beans. Perhaps Goya foods — whose customers primarily are Latinos and Hispanics — are a regular part of Ivanka’s diet, but I suspect it’s unlikely she ever has eaten a Goya bean in her life.

Then why? Because the rich daughter of the rich president who last week posed with the rich and similarly arrogant and tone-deaf dynastic owner of the Goya company doesn’t give a legume about the people who eat Goya products.

There is a future for us all. And if we are wise, we will steel ourselves for it — harden ourselves, as Fitzgerald says — because it is not a future so easy or simple as Ivanka pretends. Nor may it be so malleable.

But it will be ours, regardless of Ivanka Trump, who with her husband Jared are the perfect Tom and Daisy of Fitzgerald’s invention: “careless people … [who] smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made of it.”

Clifton Jolley

Clifton Jolley, Ph.D., is president of Advent Communications, Ogden.