Events are taking place which finally help make sense to me of the election of Donald Trump. For one thing there was an article about the U.S. having some jeopardy with the ICC over war crimes in Afghanistan. That got me thinking about the way U.S. insistence on playing global policeman has altered our national psyche. There are a lot of folks that are tired of hearing us spending billions and trillions around the world in our “national interests” and then getting embroiled in wars from which there are no easy extractions, and no easy wins. Suddenly it’s a lot easier for me to see voters casting their ballot for D. Trump in spite of the fact that he had demonstrated over 70 years that he was not a politician, did not have a political platform other than to be the big bad bully who threatened everyone and anyone in his way. He lived his life that way; he is attempting to govern that way; and for those who bought into story line he makes perfect sense to be the guy who put the rest of the world in it’s place.
There have been several good articles that have compared the Trump True Believer to religious cultists. Having had my own experience of religious cults I have to say that there are strong similarities I’d not thought about. Trump supporters identify with specific traits in the man — traits that don’t have to pass logical or ethical tests because they are traits that they SHARE with the man — and who spends much time doubting their own belief system? Just as religionists don’t have to rely upon scientific fact to sustain their belief because they have faith in their belief, so Trump supporters aren’t phased by factual demonstrations of why he’s going down a disastrous pathway — because some part of them wants him to act that way — a way they could never get away with following. His irrationality vindicates hopes and fears they have held for a long, long, long time.
But there is a second part to this story that has similar weight in my mind and that relates to the way the new administration handled it’s transition. If you will remember during the transition period there were numerous articles and comments about the fact that the new team seemed to not even care that there were transition training teams standing by to help them understand the intricasies of the job they were about to embark on. It was as if they looked at the situation and decided (en masse) — “Oh, this can’t be all that hard” — and refused the offers of assistance as irrelevant to what they wanted their administration to be. Of course on Feb. 16 the White House was telling Congress that they would work closely with Congress to iron out procedures for security checks — only after they got caught with their fingers in the proverbial till over several administration personnel.
It is insulting to say the least that they refused assistance in the initial transition because they were too arrogant. Then they got caught because they weren’t being transparent or keeping pace with existing ethics practices. And finally they make a show of being willing to “work with congress” to iron these things out — which would never have been a problem in the first place if they hadn’t been arrogant about accepting help to begin with.
All of this doesn’t make me like Donald Trump any more than I did before. But it does help me understand why 1/2 of the voting public could vote for such a despicable human being. I don’t expect to be any the less vocal about his actions. If he lies I’m going to say, wait a minute, that’s not true. I will not normalize what is reprehensible behavior and I will not pretend that it’s OK for him to disrespect me or the rest of the other half of the nation that did not elect him. He may have more money than I have. He may have more power than I have. But as my employee he has put himself in a position to be criticized for poor job performance and to be applauded for good job performance. If he does any of the latter I hope to be there to pat him on the back, but to date I haven’t seen any.