Tag: denial

Delusion Everywhere

It’s been just over a year since 62,979,636 Americans said, “Hey, you know that smug, narcissistic, mentally unstable billionaire who hates women and minorities? Yeah, that guy. Let’s all vote for him.”

And it’s been nothing but easy living ever since.

To be fair, plenty of Americans are indeed happy with Trump’s first year in office, even if by any objective or reasonable standard, it has been a complete failure, daily embarrassment, and horrific nightmare.

No matter, because as I wrote in my last post, many hardcore Trump supporters have abandoned all pretense of rational thought or even strained justification for their misbegotten votes. Instead, the working-class folks profiled in Politico insist that the human cringe factor masquerading as a president is a great guy, and that things couldn’t be better.

Well, I didn’t mention that the Politico article ends with a Trump supporter casually dropping the N-word, which might as well be a snapshot of what the 2016 election was really all about.

You see, study after study has shown that bigotry is a prime characteristic of many Trump voters. In fact, some experts insist that racism motivated Trump voters more than any other factor.

But as I’ve written before, Americans tend to dismiss the very idea that racism was even a minor variable in Trump’s election. We are determined to say that prejudice died in the 1960s, and millions of our fellow citizens cannot possibly be bigots.

Well, as the Atlantic recently pointed out, this kind of delusion has been going on for decades.

And it is not just Trump’s supporters “who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who … searched desperately for any alternative explanation — outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety — to the one staring them in the face.”

The explanation staring all of us in the face is blatant racism, xenophobia, hate-filled rage — whatever you would like to call it.

What happened in 2016 was that “Americans, who would never think of themselves as possessing racial animus, voted for a candidate whose ideal vision of America excludes millions of fellow citizens because of their race or religion.”

It really is that clear.

Now, of course, it is inaccurate and offensive to label all of Trump’s supporters as racists.

But the vast majority who are not neo-Nazis and white supremacists were still willing to look the other way as they voted for a guy beloved by, well, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

The Atlantic article has gone viral for a very good reason: It is an astute and well-written attack on our national delusion. At the risk of checking out for the remainder of this article, I’ll just list some of the most striking passages here.

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency.… This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened.”

 

“Supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.”

 

“The argument for the innocence of Trump’s backers finds purchase across ideological lines: white Democrats looking for votes from working-class whites, white Republicans who want to tar Democrats as elitists, white leftists who fear that identity politics stifles working-class solidarity, and white Trumpists seeking to weaponize white grievances.”

 

“A peculiarly white American cognitive dissonance is that most worry far more about being seen as racist than about the consequences of racism for their fellow citizens. That dissonance spans the ideological spectrum, resulting in blanket explanations for Trump that ignore the plainly obvious.”

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.”

 

It’s a lot to take in. But a combination of data-driven research, psychological study, anecdotal evidence, and our own common sense all verify that this is indeed the case. Americans remain in deep denial about the crushing moral failure that occurred last year.

To justify their votes, Trump’s biggest fans combined “an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.”

The only thing more delusional than thinking that Trump is not a bigot is to believe that his die-hard supporters will ever become open-minded and tolerant. In essence, “these supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.”

So let’s stop kidding ourselves.

 


Pass the Wine

Yes, it is indeed challenging in Year One of the Orange Despot to find anything to be grateful for.

Normally, at this time of the year, we would offer thanks for what we have and all the positive developments that are happening for us as a nation.

However, the consensus among sane Americans is that, this year, we should instead give gratitude for the things we don’t have and the horrible acts that have not occurred.

For example, we don’t have a war with North Korea, or a collapsed economy, or a rescinded First Amendment, or a total absence of healthcare for all except the super-rich — at least not yet.

So let’s all shout, “hallelujah” over these amazing gifts.

But there is one group of Americans who are truly grateful this holiday season. Now, I’m not talking about the mega-wealthy one percenters, or the plutocrats who are devouring our country. Although they’re doing great, those bastards are never grateful for anything, because their whole lives are relentless, insatiable quests for more, more, more.

No, I’m referring to the Trump true believers. I’m talking about those fabled white working-class voters who love Trump and live in places like rural Pennsylvania — you know, the people who decided the election and overwhelmed your vote.

Politico recently ran an article profiling the president’s most fanatical supporters. The article found that for these voters, their “satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them the most.”

In other words, last year, these people said they were voting for Trump because he would bring back the coal industry, end the opioid epidemic, build that fucking wall, etcetera.

Almost a year later, Trump hasn’t accomplished any of those things, or even tried particularly hard to do so. And yet, his fans don’t hold it against him. Indeed, “it’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.”

Yes, for these voters, it doesn’t matter that we have a bumbling man-child dragging the country into massive discord. He is their guy, and he shares their rage and hatred and ignorance and incoherence. So damn it, they’re sticking with him.

And how does one reason with such superhuman levels of denial and delusion?

Well, it’s simple really. Don’t even try.

You see, the hardcore “Trump supporter is living in a state of downplayed disappointment — like a child taking a bite of black licorice thinking it was chocolate, feeling regret, then accepting the candy anyway.”

I mean, these are people who trust Trump more than they trust Jesus Christ.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, that should tell you something — a whole lot of somethings, actually.

So this Thanksgiving, if you’re stuck sitting next to die-hard Trump supporters, realize that there is quite literally nothing you can say to them to get them to change their mind about the guy.

As such, just skip the chitchat and double up on pumpkin pie. Trust me, dinner will be far more enjoyable that way.

 


An Irrational Rationale

I don’t care how smart you are (or think you are). You no doubt commit logical fallacies with disturbing regularity.

You see, the human brain — despite its astonishing capabilities and amazing structure — is prone to weird glitches like extinction bursts and black-and-white thinking and confirmation bias and myriad other quirks that prevent any of us from being Vulcans.

 

Among the strongest of these is good old-fashioned denial. You no doubt are well acquainted with this one.

For example, we routinely convince ourselves that our pants are too snug because we just washed them, and not because we’ve doubled down on the breakfast burritos. Or we’re positive that the hot waiter/waitress is checking us out. Or we just know that millions of people read our blog posts (ahem…).

On a political level, both liberals and conservatives are indulging in heavy denial, which is clearly a self-defense mechanism brought on by the horrors of the Trump Administration.

For liberals, this takes the form of hyperbolic articles predicting that Trump is going to be impeached — any day now… any hour now… the hell with it, any minute now. Just you watch!

Now while it is possible that this buffoon will finally commit so many nefarious offenses that he will get his ass fired, it is highly unlikely. House Republicans have made it clear that they will support this toxic narcissist no matter what, and as we all know, articles of impeachment have to start with the House — currently under Republican control. Short of a smoking gun regarding Russian collusion, impeachment is not going to happen.

Personally, I find it more likely that Trump will quit in frustration than get removed from office. But I’m realistic enough to admit that this is also improbable, and we are most likely stuck with this malignant clown for 45 more months.

Liberal denial gets even deeper when we look at the Not My President movement. Of course, progressives don’t mean this literally. They are well aware that Trump is officially president… well, most of them anyway.

But saying Trump is not my president is more than just a protest. It is a soothing comfort, a reminder that I didn’t vote for him and neither did my progressive friends. And it means that the man is, you know, not legitimate (whatever that means), and that America doesn’t have millions of racists, and that the way I choose to view the country is more somehow more honest than the unpleasant truth that we don’t get to have individual presidents and that we are subject to the whims of uneducated, hate-filled people who live in electorally relevant states. Nope, he’s not my president (la, la, la, la…)

However, for the most powerful, awe-inspiring display of denial on a national political level, it is difficult to top our old friends known as moderate Republicans.

Ever since Trump announced his candidacy, old-school and sane Republicans have been shouting that Trump is not really a conservative. They point to his shifting opinions and absence of core principles and the fact that he once hung out with the Clintons.

Before the election, they said Trump was a stooge whom Democrats had planted to create havoc in the primaries, and that Obama had forced conservatives to vote for a xenophobic lunatic (the poor Republicans had no choice!). And authentic members of the GOP proudly declared that they were members of #NeverTrump.

Of course, most of those NeverTrumpers have now meekly admitted that their definition of “never” is actually “a few months,” as they sheepishly fall into line behind their mighty leader. The GOP has thrown away whatever principles it had, even supporting ideas they once opposed, in the interest of party unity. And Trump is pursuing an aggressively right-wing agenda that appeals to the GOP base and the most reactionary members of Congress.

None of this screams, “secret Democrat.” Plus, there is the fact that — and here I will try to be delicate — he is the fucking standard bearer of the Republican Party and its most high-profile member.

So spare us the No True Scotsman fallacy. Trump is every bit a real Republican. In fact, he is exactly what the GOP wanted, 100 percent their creation, and fully their responsibility.

No amount of denial can change that.

 


The Distant Past

We are all descended from losers.

Take me, for instance. My family came from El Salvador, a charter member of the Third-World Nation Hall of Fame that is best known for crippling poverty, psychotic gangs, bloody civil wars, murdered priests, and raped nuns.

elsavadrowar

I’m also part Italian, which lends itself to stereotypes of Mafia hit men and the original unwashed horde of immigrants. In addition, Italy is currently on its 982nd post-WWII government (not exactly a source of pride).

And I’m a touch Irish as well. So here comes the drunken, brawling Irishman, everybody.

No, I’m not self-loathing. In truth, I’m grateful for my mélange of ancestry. I regularly sing the praises of Latino culture, and it’s not bad having a connection (however distant) to Da Vinci and James Joyce.

However, everyone’s culture has black spots, and our efforts to honor our ancestors should not extend to overt denial and large-scale myopia. But they regularly do.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


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