Tag: narcissist

Who Could Have Guessed?

There are few advantages to being Gen X.

We’re a much smaller generation and therefore less culturally powerful than the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. We’re too old to be hip and cool, but too young to collect Social Security (which will be long gone by the time we’re senior citizens). Also, we were born too late to see Led Zeppelin in concert, but born too early to have our own cell phones as teenagers.

Also, our rock icons keep dying on us.

But there is one advantage we have, and it is this: We are cynical as fuck.

I’m not making this up. Studies have verified that Gen X is the most skeptical group of Americans in history.

Now, you might not think being cynical is an advantage. For the most part, it’s not. But when it comes to existing in the world in which we live, it is a damn lifesaver.

Take, for example, the recent poll numbers for our illustrious president.

In November, when Trump won — due to that archaic relic known as the Electoral College — about 60% of Americans “said they were mostly optimistic about his presidency.” But that number is down to 43% today, and furthermore, “core groups that carried Trump to victory are not immune to the deteriorating optimism around the president.”

I’m not a political scientist, but I’m pretty sure the phrase “deteriorating optimism” is not one that presidents like to hear.

Keep in mind that all these numbers came before the president threatened to start a nuclear war.

In any case, “optimism has slipped more than 20 points — from 74% in November to 51% now — among whites without a college degree.” Keep in mind that this demographic is the most hardcore of Trump’s hardcore support.

Apparently, for some inexplicable reason, back in November, many Americans somehow thought that electing a narcissist with no governmental or military experience, who had a history of racist statements, misogynistic behavior, and unethical actions, and who had the temperament of a spoiled toddler was somehow cause for optimism.

Why any rational adult would think this is completely beyond me.

Even people who knew firsthand about Trump’s insanity seemed to think a 70-year-old bully would somehow become more humble by winning the election. Witness the New York Times columnist who was personally insulted by Trump, but only recently addressed his boorish behavior by stating, “I have to admit that it did not occur to me he’d keep doing that kind of stuff as president of the United States.”

How did this not occur to you? How could this be a damn surprise?

Maybe it’s just not Gen X cynicism, however. Maybe it’s also because I’m Latino, and as my fellow Hispanics — and no doubt most African Americans and Muslims and gays as well — can attest, we never thought the guy would be anything other than a disaster. We never thought he would mellow out, or suddenly become presidential, or really be anything other than what he appeared to be, which is a corrupt, conniving liar who cares about nothing but himself.

It seems that many other Americans are now snapping out of their collective naivety to admit reality. Although I remain baffled why it’s taken people so long to acknowledge the perfectly obvious.

However, if you still think I’m being too harsh, just remember this fact: In spite of everything that has gone wrong with the Trump presidency, 84% of Republicans still support him.

So would you like to ask again why I’m cynical?

 


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.

 


Bursting

Because we’re all fond of metaphors, let’s conjure up an image of America as if it were a person.

In this scenario, we see that — like everyone — America has her virtues and her flaws, her good days and her bad days. Lately, America has nursed the nagging suspicion that she’s past her prime, but she’s not giving up just yet.

All she has to do is lose ten pounds, give up smoking, and… what was that last thing? Oh yeah, end widespread and systematic racism that disenfranchises millions of ethnic minorities.

But what happens when America — or any person — tries to change a bad habit?

Well, contrary to popular belief, negative behaviors usually don’t fade away. They put up a fight, and then they either die out forever or (more likely) come roaring back with a vengeance.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to give up devouring that daily tub of ice cream. You might go weeks without so much as a spoonful of Chunky Monkey. But then you allow yourself a taste of Cherry Garcia. Bam — your “diet ends in a catastrophic binge, and you look at the empty containers and ask, ‘What the hell. How did my smooth transition from comfort food to human dumpster happen?’”

That’s an extinction burst, which is “a predictable and common blast of defiance from the recesses of a brain denied familiar rewards.”

Basically, an extinction burst is your brain’s last-ditch effort to return you to your old ways. It happens, weirdly enough, when you are closest to your goal.

Your mind is saying, “Shit, this behavior might actually take root. Time to panic.” And you pig out, or smoke three packs one after another, or binge watch nine hours of porn, or indulge in whatever behavior you are trying to banish.

And you were so close… and doing so well… sigh.

Well, you can see how this relates to our metaphor of America, the person.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


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