Don’t Fall For the Okey-Doke

Cartoonist Scott Adams originated, and briefly wrote one of the best comic strips in the United States, Dilbert.  Today, twenty-five years later, he continues to write it, but it’s far from one of the best.  In the early days, it was an escape from Adams’ day job as an engineer, and its often whimsical flights of fancy were like a breath of fresh air in a climate-controlled cubical.  After leaving his office job, however, Adams began crowd-sourcing the misery, and the strip’s quality rapidly declined.  Relying on “WTF” corporate moments submitted by fans, the strip eliminated its less popular but more creative departures from the office location, and settled into a lucrative afterlife as a workplace-themed gag-a-day daily in the mode of fellow cash-cows Garfield and Marvin.

Back in the early days, I was briefly a member of the Dilbert fanclub, “Dogbert’s New Ruling Class,” but I quickly dropped out after realizing Adams himself was a wannabe Dogbert with dramatically less charm.  And that was the last time I read Adams work in his own voice –until recently, when his blog emerged as a leading predictor of Donald Trump’s success in the Republican Primary.

Dogbert was even ahead of Adams in the predictions game.

Adams’ widely-viewed series of blog posts predicts electoral success for Trump on the basis of his putative status as a “Master Persuader,” who successfully bypasses logic and facticity in favor of neuro-linguistic programming style mass brainwashing –excuse me, persuasion.  The magic certainly seems to have worked on Adams himself, who, while ostensibly supporting Clinton, appears throughout the series to be continually deploying painfully clumsy persuasion techniques against her, perhaps in support of protecting his newly won status as a insightful contrarian prophet.  Or, more likely his only real goal is to ride Trump’s tidal wave of publicity to increased visibility for himself and his own new book (and damn the consequences).  If so… well played Mr. Adams.

One sign Trump himself may be taking him seriously comes courtesy one of Adams’ more interesting predictions –that Trump can counter the widespread portrait of himself as a rabid racist by making a direct appeal for black American support.  In recent days, Trump has in fact done so, repeatedly, albeit in such a jarringly tone-deaf manner –characterizing all black Americans as hopelessly mired in poverty, and desperately in need of more policing –that he makes Romney’s attempt to establish black credentials by shouting “Who let the dogs out?!” seem positively enlightened in contrast.

If, as some have speculated, Trump doesn’t care about his perception among actual black Americans, and is merely trying to rehabilitate his racial reputation among queasy white Republicans, perhaps this is enough to turn the trick.  But if his aim is to actually improve his standing in the black community, then I contend –in opposition to Adams’ belief that persuasion is everything –that Trump could deliver a speech penned by Dr. Cornel West himself, and barely move the needle.  The reason is the okey-doke.

Many people were first introduced to this term when then-candidate Obama used it during the 2008 primaries, or when he used it again recently in reference to the Republican agenda.  As many have speculated, it’s coded speech aimed directly at a black audience, but I’ll be glad to here explain it openly and directly:

The term is a parodic reference to the characteristic Midwestern phrase “okey-dokey,” itself a jocular varient of the word “okay,” meaning everything is great.  “The okey-doke” is when people smile at you, and make overtures of friendship, and assure you all things are fine, and that they have all your best interests in mind; when the real truth is the exact opposite.  To fall for the “okey-doke” is to believe that someone wants to be your friend when he is really just biding his time waiting to betray or exploit you –or is in fact already doing so.

The truth is that the black community has fallen for –or at the least been exposed to –the okey-doke so many times, that the community as a whole has built up a certain level of resistence to persuasion, even as delivered by a master.  Even if the media has already forgotten, we still remember Trump started his career discriminating against black people in his housing, and throwing us out of his casino. We still remember his race-baiting vigilantism in the case of the Central Park Jogger. We certainly haven’t forgot his weakly disavowed endorsement from Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.  Above all, we know that when someone begins his political career with a promise to deport all Mexicans, and follows up with a call for banning all Muslims, it’s only a matter of time before he works his way around to some sort of final solution for the “black problem” as well.  For all those reasons, and despite “friends” like Dennis Rodman and Omarosa, or endorsements from Dr. Ben Carson and a host of prosperity-preaching pastors, Trump isn’t going to get much beyond his current 1% black support, no matter how many persuasive speeches he makes.

Can it be said, however, that the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, are peddling nothing but a more sophisticated version of the okey-doke? Can it be said they’ve done little enough to deserve their startlingly high level of support in the black community?  Indeed, there is a case to be made along those lines.  However, if Bill is the white classmate obsessed with black culture, but who occasionally lets the “n” word slip, and if Hillary is his overly earnest girlfriend, who doesn’t understand his love of rap, but goes along with it anyway, then Trump is the rich kid who demands your vote for student council even though he spat in your face in the cafeteria just a few days ago.  The one who treats everyone, everyone like crap, but gets away with it, because his parents have a private pool and are never home.  The one who thinks he can buy your vote for pennies on the dollar, at the small auxiliary cost of your self-respect and personal integrity.

America, don’t fall for the okey-doke.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Fall For the Okey-Doke

  1. I corresponded briefly with Scott when he announced his support for Trump. We stopped after he called me an asshole. Must have been something I said. Your observation that he is Dogbert seems right to me as well. His cluelessness about genuinely vile behavior fits the character. His recent periscope outings have him saying endlessly “Trump meant to do that. All part of the plan.”

  2. So here we all are…. and now it’s mid 2019 and the new race for the presidency is on…. the field of idiots on the Dem side vs the incumbent not quite on the ropes yet Trumpster and it’s yet again… all blah blah blah politics as usual. Me? I’m a Trump supporter and I’m staying that way for the duration. Here’s how I see it…. yes, he’s annoying, bloviating, a braggart and a person with an apparent limited vocabulary, at least of glowing adjectives about himself (he’s in love with himself and it might be just what it takes to succeed as a POTUS anyway) and derogatory terms for others, but repetitive nevertheless. What I liked when he first threw his hat into the ring and what I still like about Trump is that he is oblivious and a huge pot stirrer. He is a bully willing to say the stupidest things at any time to keep his opponents off kilter and back on their heels. He pummels his enemies with derogatory name calling and they fall for it every time. I’m disgusted that they are such simpletons in their reactions to Trump’s words. Even the media is lazy and just does the bare minimum these days, relying on relaying of today’s Trumpisms to publish the gossip of the moment, truth be damned and lies put forward first. It’s embarrassing to think what the rest of the world might be thinking about all Americans based on the collective behavior of all Americans in the news right now. Our leadership is feckless and our leader is pointing out the ineptitude of the rest of the elected and their failure to do anything but spin their heads off. Disgusting…. and also successful strategy…. because while the “king” and his foes are striking back and forth at each other, the mainstream citizenry are actually functioning and improving their lots…. the stock market is humming along better than it has in years, the economy is improving, people are working, it’s almost like we don’t need no stinkin’ government for our country to do what actually needs to be done. But we do. And that’s really why I’m still on the Trump train. It’s not a case of the okey-doke with Trump; he maligns enemies and praises allies equally across the spectrum. Sometimes, he even changes his mind about who’s who in the zoo and the words “you’re fired” or some such erupt and we have another changing of the guests at the table. You just never know what will happen and that’s a good thing for the swamp to have to deal with. Trump is busy keeping them all guessing and occupied while the rest of us actually work to solve the problems that really need solving. And it ain’t climate control. As far as I can tell, the REAL American majority is not racially defined. The REAL American majority is a conglomeration of the religious conservatives from all backgrounds who, if they can just realize their common values, will finally learn to vote together in these elections and oust all these entrenched thieves from office. There are still two camps of voters…. those that believe that society should have some basic rules and decency and those that think that freedom means anything goes, even the most outlandish ideas should have the right to survive. If we continue to allow the “anything goes” kind of thinking to further establish itself to the point of overtaking the responsible society building kind of thinking, this country will eventually fail. And that’s where the argument lies…. whether or not we’re going to party until we drop or if we’re finally going to sober up and clean up the mess that’s been made. It’s not too late yet, but it’s getting to that point soon. The Judeo-Christian believers of this country need to consolidate and vote together. I don’t care if they are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, whatever else, gay or straight, old or young…. it’s not about that…. it’s about the importance of the cohesive strength of our country and choosing the best socially acceptable behaviors. We cannot endure all these holes in our fabric much longer before the whole quilt becomes tatters. We must recognize that our private lives and our public behavior might collide on occasion, but the public behavior must conform to our best selves. I’m not saying that anything goes in private, but that perhaps legislating homosexuality out of existence is an unreasonable idea and the same goes for legislating faith in God out of existence. We are America. We don’t want to be any of those lesser countries that do outlaw the gays and religions that don’t happen to mesh with our Judeo-Christian Mosaic laws. However, we do want our laws to be upheld, obeyed and respected, so no other laws (Sharia) are allowed to supersede the laws we have already based on the 10 commandments. It’s not a good thing to vote for anyone based on their race or color. One should always vote for a person who will thwart a status quo that is unhealthy and help move our society in a healthy direction. Words are just words. Actions mean something. Values are critical. Trump is a scoundrel, but he is open about his nature. The ones to really fear are the ones who do play the okey doke game on all of us…. saying whatever they need to get elected and then robbing us all blind for their own personal power and greed…. the Clintons! et al. And yes, Kim Jong Un deserves to be assassinated, right along with anyone behind him who would act the same. He’s a demon in the flesh and a murdering SOB. Trump knows it and he’s serious about squishing that little shithead…. hopefully, permanently at some future moment.

    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for your comment. However, while it may be intelligently phrased, it’s incoherent and deeply self-contradictory:

      You pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values,” yet nothing you’re celebrating or advocating has anything to do with morality –what does it could it possible mean to “have values” if it doesn’t imply anything moral at all? You admire Trump’s supposed hardline approach to Kim Jong Un, yet Trump has made more concessions, and done more to raise Kim Jong Un’s legitimacy than any other president. You talk about some grand coalition across boundaries of race and culture, and yet you support a leader whose base of popularity is firmly founded in his willingness to divide and demonize people based on race, culture, religion and national origin. You’re celebrating Trump’s economic successes, and yet all he’s doing is reaping the benefits of those of Obama’s policies he hasn’t yet managed to reverse.

      I felt your most honest statement was that you like Trump because he’s a bully. People often admire bullies as long as they are bullying other people. However, I hope you remember, that bullies often eventually turn on their friends and supporters as well.

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