Never underestimate the power of stupid people in larger groups. George Carlin
Since well before the 2016 election, like most thinking Americans, I was a little confused by Donald Trump. To be sure, all Americans can be forgiven simply on the face of what the man had to say. And of course, his penchant for telling lies. Who in their right mind would speak out loud what most four year olds know should only be expressed in their private thoughts. Who says, “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue, and nobody would do anything?” Or the old standby he pulls out to make polite conversation, “I grab ’em by the pussy.” I mean honestly who says things like that in the real world.
Fast forward to April 2020 where Mad King Donald has morphed into a clinical lab for conspiracy theories, ego infused proclamations that can sear one’s eyebrows clean off one’s face, and delusions of grandeur that would shame Kim Jong Un (if he is still alive). Americans have officially moved beyond the realm on reality to something not even the Twilight Zone would air. Yet, whereas two weeks ago, America was holding its collective breath in hopes that the Coronavirus would quietly go away and spare the nation more senseless deaths, Trump has gone full metal jacket and life as Americans use to know it is gone.
It’s near the end of April and the virus continues to rage on with no end in sight. Trump is pushing for an end to social distancing in some areas of the nation, and still not admitting that it is the healthcare experts who should be running this shit show as to when it would be safe to open the country back up. His logic is that the economy has to restart to get businesses back up and running before the economy falls apart. Oil has tanked buy slowly reviving. The Stock Market is limping along like a homeless person wandering the streets of LA. And good people are clamoring to be set free from governmental regulations. More on these people later.
This is where it gets weirder. Last week, he claimed some pretty extraordinary stuff, not the least of which is that he has absolute power over the states, and basically, he is above, or maybe, is the law. Constitutional scholars were quick to point out that he has no such power. Backtracking the next day, he backed off of that claim only to reassert it in the following few days. Most Americans have heard his proclamation, yet, where is the hue and cry to have the bastard committed to the nearest jail or loony bin? The silence from the masses is deafening and surprising. Three years ago, only his basest base would have stood by and let such an outrageous statement stand. Now, it seems like all of America is his base. Possibly, Americans have heard so much crap come out of his mouth that numbness has set in or maybe the country has gone a little insane along with him.
The question is what will Trump’s assertion that “When somebody is president of the United States, your authority is total” as he said in a press conference recently mean in the long run. Most Americans will shake their head and say there goes Mad King Donald playing Napoleon again. But there are those like the ones mentioned above who will take a totally different stance.
On opening up the economy, there will be more protests like those that happened last weekend where seemingly intelligent, non-basket of deplorables types, will petition state governments to open up the economy to gets paychecks flowing back into the pockets of the working class. If that were the sole concern, it would be understandable. People have to eat. Theys have to pay their bills and on and on. Americans are frightened right now and will grasp at any hope if it promises them a safe haven.
Of course, the issue here is America is only at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and it is going to be some time before infections peak and level off. Reopening the economy could have the exact opposite effect if a month from now infection rates increase and the economy has to be shut down again. It is a dilemma only the health professionals can speak intelligently on, certainly not Trump.
Yet, Trump is pushing for phase 1 to begin as soon as possible. Why now? Why take the risk? An answer can be found in the fitness industry.
Their inclusion follows a last-minute lobbying push by an industry not known for flexing its muscles in Washington. While not every major company was part of the effort, conversations with 10 leaders in the fitness-club business reveal an influential network of relationships that kicked into gear over the past few weeks and helped move gyms to the front of the line — even to the surprise of many in the industry.
Noteworthy figures in the effort include a Trump-loving fitness-center owner in Pennsylvania, Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew, billionaire real-estate mogul Steve Ross and the US Surgeon General. CNN
Gyms are like the worst possible establishments to reopen. As the article notes they are places where people sweat, breathe on each other, and share unsanitized equipment as a natural course of action. Yet, there they are on the frontlines calling for relaxation of the social distancing mandates. If, as the story notes, “an industry not known for flexing its muscles in Washington” can have an effect on the president’s decision making process, what power would industries like oil and gas, the restaurant associations, airlines, or worse yet, the National Football League be able exert on Trump to open the country -safeguards be damned.
Trump is too much of a capitalist screw up and fearful of his reelection prospects not to take some action to open things up on some level. The group that should strike fear in the hearts of Americans are his whacko base. The question should be asked why is it that some right wing protestors show up armed to the teeth simply to stand around on governmental building steps and look awkward and a bit unhinged. Still, these people are a growing concern to most thinking Americans.
While many Americans have been concerned that Trump’s base might turn ugly if he isn’t reelected, now with the onset of the virus and his reelection prospects in doubt, some in the psychiatric field are taking a more serious look at what his base might be capable of in times of crisis.
In an article by Igor Derysh for Salon titled “Trump’s lockdown protesters resemble ‘child soldiers’ and ‘urban gangs’”, he interviewed Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, about her findings. Derysh also notes,
Lee is also “a project group leader at the World Health Organization Violence Prevention Alliance. She told Salon that Trump’s recent call to “liberate” Democratic-led states was a dog whistle to his core supporters.”
“Subconsciously, it is a loyalty test for the people,” Lee said. “In Africa, where I did some ethnographic work, child soldiers would be recruited and made to kill a family member to demonstrate their allegiance to the government and not to the family. Similarly, in urban gangs in America, one may be challenged to kill a police officer to prove one’s willingness to uphold gang rules over societal rules.
“When Donald Trump suggests that the virus be taken as a ‘hoax’, that people gather in churches or that people protest for their own sacrifice, he is actually testing people’s loyalty to the ‘laws’ of his mind over the laws of nature, or even impulse for survival. The more he abuses them, the greater their devotion grows, since the psychological cost of admitting their mistake is ever higher — and so it becomes easier to dig a well of unreality than to see the obvious truth. Salon
In recent days Trump has spoken from the podium at his daily press conferences about gibberish that makes him look totally deranged. Yesterday, he suggested his medical team look into injecting disinfectants or light into people’s bodies to eradicate the virus to the horror of medical staff looking on. As President Andrew Shepherd noted in the final scene from American President,
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”
In the error of Trump, those words could not be more true.
Whacko Doodle of the Week
Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, in her interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN.