“If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it. ” Mark Twain
Less than 24 hours after the Senate Republicans voted to exeronate Donald J. Trump of obvious high crimes and misdemeanors, the president showed all the signs of a mad man run amok. The following morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, he came bearing a copy of the USA Today newspaper that proclaimed in bold block letters ” Trump Acquitted” at the top of the page. From there, things went predictably downhill. In his speech to the historically non-partisan meeting he stated,
“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” Trump said. “They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.” NBC News
It is becoming increasingly apparent that to criticize Trump’s aberrant behavior beyond noting that he is a seriously disturbed individual is simply playing into his bully mindset which is self-affirming regardless of who criticizes or praises him. At the annual prayer breakfast, he wasted no time attacking Nancy Pelosi (who sat a few seats away) and Mitt Romney for using, in his words, their faith to publically attack him. Besides being incredibly offensive and laughingly unchristian, his actions, then and later in the day at the White House, verged on outright slander. It raises the question just how far Trump will go in punishing anyone who stood for impeachment or is a perceived enemy in his warped mind.
Over the course of the day, he attacked everyone from the past and present including Robert Mueller, Andrew McCabe, Hillary, Romney, Pelosi, former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, former FBI Director James Comey, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and others too numerous to mention here. Conversely, he lauded praise on his sycophantic Republican enablers calling out one after the other to praise and charm while he told jokes and laughed his way through both meetings. To a man and woman, they ate it up chuckling and laughing continuously as Trump ranted on and on. To say his actions both brought shame on the office of the presidency and highlighted in stark illumination his mental demise is an understatement. A common definition among psychologists seems eerily apt for what Americans saw on stage this morning after,
Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes identified interchangeably as sociopathy or psychopathy, is defined by the Mayo Clinic as: “A mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.” Psychology Today
Honestly, is there anyone who didn’t see something of this nature coming if not outright expected it. What is most disturbing is the way conservatives, and Republicans in particular, have abandoned all sense of decency and the moral high ground to allow Trump free reign in doing whatever he chooses. It is as if the rest of us are witnessing some alternative universe. One where conservatives are living in a totally bogus reality where up is down, wrong is right, and Trump is an angelic savior who is not to be questioned let alone be held responsible for his behavior.
The overarching question is what has gone wrong with the Republican Party, collectively and as individuals. It is hard to believe in the world of Trump that once upon a time there were actually people who called themselves patriots and Republican in the same breath. They believed in the rule of law, the Constitution, and the all important separation of powers where the Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary worked in tandem as checks on the power of the other individual branches to achieve balance. The system worked well until 2016 when Trump was elected, and the entire conservative cabal lost its mind.
Charles Mackay was an early social scientist who was fascinated with the psychology of crowds and the masses. His seminal book published in 1841 titled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is still studied, and for the most part, highly regarded. He is quoted as saying,
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”
For many scholars familiar with Mackay’s work, he has taken on an almost visionary personae. He was concerned with economic bubbles, not unlike the ones Americans have dealt with over recent years. His work, arguably, suffered from lack of experience and foresight developed over the years, but his foundational tenets were solid nonetheless. He also explored the motivation behind the witch mania that became popular in both Europe and America related to overzealous religiosity. Mackay also believed the crusades and popular prophecies were a type of mania that motivated, on one hand, vast numbers of people across the globe to engage in battles to support their particular belief systems, and on the other, to believe projections of the future without sufficient warrant. In every case, the people involved molded their beliefs to fit the prevailing zeitgeist without questioning or acknowledging the impact of their reasoning.
Watching the Republican crowd at Trump’s victory laps immediately after the vote for acquittal when Republicans Senators blindly ignored a mountain of evidence proving the president’s guilt was breathtaking in it audacity. There and since, the actions of conservative lawmakers has been nothing if not embarrassing. This sycophantic, servile kowtowing to Trump is chilling as is his monarchical acceptance of their praise and glorification.
While there seem to be obvious similarities between the Trump army and Mackay’s research into the madness of crowds, Trump’s minions seem far more sinister and evil (although it is a stretch to think marauding crusaders, either Christian or Muslim, could be any less forbidding). No, this is a new kind disease infecting the Grand Old Party today. It is a cancer eating away at the heart of our democracy, decimating the Constitution, rendering low the rule of law, and hoodwinking the masses into seeing Trump as the savior of the American Dream. He is not. Sane people see him for what he is and recoil in horror at what has been going on the past three years in the United States.
The sooner the rest of America comes to grip with the fact that all the lies, cruelty, ad hominem attacks, border wall boondoggles, assaults on the environment, and cuts to healthcare, education, Social Security, and on and on are simply diversions in a grander scheme, the better off America will be. No one likes to think their fellow Americans are capable or deluded by the promise of power to the point of staging a coup against our great country, but collectively, Americans had better come to that conclusion . . . and quickly.
This is reality. Get used to it, and above all else, get mad. Hate is not an enemy that one fights with clean hands under the The Marquess of Queensberry Rules. The election will be a street fight up until November 3. Then things will get real. If Trump wins, all bets are off, and America will cease to be a democracy. If the Democrats win, the fight will shift to retain power until the country heals and our way of life is returned to a semblance of law and order.
These are the only two paths to choose from as America goes forward. Get used to it.