A Nation of Sociopaths?
What would America see if it looked in a mirror? (source)
by Gaius Publius
While many of us have been enjoying the Trump Show, live on a news clip near you, a small stream of writers has considered what this all means — not only what it means for our electoral and political future, but what it means for us as a nation, that we're as captured as we are by the Donald Trump candidacy. Even his opponents are fascinated.
Is it the showmanship? The racism? The economic populism? All of that? Something else?
Or is it something in us — in many of us, at least — that draws so many like flies to his brand of honey?
What is the Trump phenomenon about, and who is it about?
I can't say I've decided on the answer, but I can say the following needs considering. After all, I'm the one who wrote that elections are a test of the electorate, not the candidates, or to put that more playfully, in an election you "vote for the public of your choice." Now Adele Stan, writing at The American Prospect, takes up the same question.
Stan starts by considering what Trump means for the near future, the electoral future:
A Nation of Sociopaths? What the Trump Phenomenon Says About AmericaI too find this aspect fascinating, especially the way the (apparently) pro–"Tax the Rich" Trump is threatening the Kochs' hostile takeover of the Republican Party, which was, until recently, almost a done deal. Stan looks at other Trump-centered considerations, such as, "Beyond the question, though, of whether Trump is good for Democrats lies the question of whether his candidacy is good for America."
To ask if the rogue Republican’s surge is good for Democrats is the wrong question.
The Republican Party has a Donald Trump problem—and that has some Democrats thanking Lady Luck for apparently blowing on their dice. The casino mogul, after all, has thrown the GOP into a disarray even greater than that wrought by the Koch brothers and the Tea Party, dashing the hopes of Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, to launch a nominee who could reach out to racial and ethnic minorities, or one who at least would not say terrible things about women.
With his continued antagonism of Spanish-speakers, his incendiary denouncement of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his base comments about actor Rosie O’Donnell and Fox News host Megyn Kelly, as Trump continues to surge in polls of Republican primary voters, he threatens to lay Priebus’s plans to waste.
This is no way to win a general election, the thinking goes. And so in some corners of Democratland, there is happy dancing in the streets.
Trump offers other benefits, as well, to liberals and progressives in the form of the monkey wrench he could throw into the works of Charles and David Koch, who have been positioning their organizational network as the party within the party, replete with resources for candidates who would run on their platform of smashing unions and coddling private capital.
All good and important thoughts. But then she pivots to the key question — Is the Trump phenomenon a statement about Trump or about us? And if the latter, what is that statement?
What is wrong with America that this racist, misogynist, money-cheating clown should be the frontrunner for the presidential nomination of one of its two major parties? ...She asks really tough questions, and offers tougher answers. But even if we decide not to agree, quite, it's as important a set of questions as any we will ask. It's tough for a nation to look in the mirror, knowing that if it does, the Trump may be what looks back.
Donald Trump is a rich man despite having driven several businesses into the ground, resurrecting himself through the bankruptcy process—meaning that he essentially cheated his creditors out of what they were owed. According to CNN, “no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump's casino empire in the last 30 years.” ...
[Yet it's] not just the wing-nuts who are watching. America just can’t get enough of this guy!
It’s time to put down the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of the Trump media spectacle, and examine the Trump phenomenon through a more penetrating lens. Revealed is America as a deeply troubled, even sociopathic, nation.
But, damn, it’s one heck of a show.
Here's part of how I put that back in 2003, when George W. Bush, fully revealed as his brutal awful self, was running for a second term:
Vote for the Public of Your ChoiceWhat goes around ... apparently never leaves. Until we force it out. I think Stan's point is larger than mine, however, and frankly, more concerning if true. After all, she's asking why Democrats can't keep their eyes off him either.
I’ve written in an earlier article that the 2004 election will be a referendum, not on the candidates, but on the voters, on the American people. After watching the seemingly inexplicable poll results of the last few weeks, I believe this even more strongly.
The current round of Republicans has made the obvious blatant. The ground cover, the plausible-sounding explanation, has eroded laughably; we’ve blown right past plausible headed toward childish and desperate.
Even a fool must understand the choices by now. Do we torture the non-white races or don’t we? Do we imprison dissent or don’t we? Do we bomb Moslems or don’t we? Do we rake to our Reaganesque selves the goods of the earth, or don’t we?
Do we fight with the whole rest of the world?
As a people, a nation, who are we?
The current crew has made these questions more explicit than any in a lifetime. It’s an excellent time to take a vote. If Bush is indeed elected in 2004, the people will truly have spoken.
And on a lighter note, here's yet another perfectly decent person for whom the Trump is a guilty pleasure.
"Damn, it's one heck of a show" indeed.