How low can you go? When it comes to Trump, he has finally demonstrated to the entire world how to successfully manipulate and radicalise almost half of Americans. He is truly a con artist extraordinaire – we have to give it to him. Trump has turned ordinary citizens into zombified haters and has managed to project his deranged mental world successfully into the minds of a large part of the American population. Alt-Right feeds straight into Alt-Reality. It is Milgram 2.0 in front of our very eyes.
I would love to read any recent comment by Philip Zimbardo, although he already commented on Trump about two years ago. In Palo Alto online he concluded about Trump: “He shows a need to fabricate his reality, not just for his base but also for himself and cannot refrain from entering into an attack mode (…) He cannot help himself because this is the structure of his pathology.” (15.Feb, 2018)
The social behaviour of Trump’s supporters reminds us of people on crystal meth: paranoid, ultra-violent and permanently aggressive, verbally and physically. The toxic mix of mob street rule, antisocial media, a submissive Republican party in fear of speaking up against their beloved Führer, thriving conspiracy theories and Trump’s fragile ego have led to the lowest point in American history: the storming of the Capitol by an orchestrated mob. The only way to defuse the timebomb that goes by the name of Donald J. Trump is to swiftly go ahead with all pending criminal and civil lawsuits after he loses immunity. Trump is of simple construction. Just follow the money trail. By all means, this man, as Robert Reich conclusively pointed out, deserves to be charged with sedition, abuse of power (on many counts) and inciting violence. Trump committed high crimes.
On a more psychological note, Adorno’s book ‘The Authoritarian Personality‘ (1950) comes to mind. The traits of an authoritarian personality were characterized by Adorno as offensive, threatening, intrusive, governed by the belief in individual fate, thinking in rigid categories, concerned with submission and domination, ruled by the assertion of strength and the perception of the world as dangerous – with a tendency to project unconscious impulses and, last but not least, the urge for self-glorification. Sounds familiar? Personality traits tend to remain stable during one’s lifetime once adulthood has been reached. but there is also an element of social interaction.
Trump’s pathological narcissism, his unsatisfiable need to be constantly admired, mirrors the need for recognition of large parts of the American population who feel disadvantaged, not being given a fair chance in life, losing their privileges or being bullied by more powerful adversaries. The people who feel this way are most of the 72 million people who voted for Trump. Most tragically, they adore the biggest bully of all and project their infantile anger (since psychological hurtings stem from discriminating socialisation experiences) against anybody in power, in this case so-called ‘elites’. This is how Trump can only continue convincing his followers as long as he is staging himself as a victim (see the imagined ‘witch hunt‘ against him by ‘fake media‘ etc.). Regarding his fan base, this is why he ‘speaks their language‘, as often mentioned, the limited vocabulary of of a resenting loser. For his followers, his vulgarity (‘grab them by the pussy‘) serves as a signifier for identification. His rudimentary persona is the main reason how he can get away with constantly lashing out and hurting others. Trump bypasses any form of logical cognition by limiting his followers to the most primitive utterance that basically goes ‘I shout louder than you and therefore, I am right.’ Assuming the role of a victim is used by Trumpers to justify the use of violence. It is for these deeply ingrained psychological patterns that Biden, as a sensible politician and man of reason, will only be able to convince a small part of Trump’s followers. The nation will remain deeply divided.
In the meantime, Twitter (Trump’s favorite Volksempfänger) and Facebook won’t be able to undo the damage they have caused. Most problematic is the fact that Twitter decided to silence Trump. It should have been the law regulating social media that should have led to the suspension of his account. Social media have de facto become, after the American people, the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislative, the fifth power of the State. I hope nobody oversees the problem of underregulation. Trump, not abiding by community rules and spreading lies, should have been suspended a long time ago. Presidents are not above the law and there are currently no laws that sensibly regulate social media.
As a quasi-religious cult, Trump remains the biggest threat to the American people until he is locked up for good and permanently barred from political office. If this individual can still roam free, he is bound to cause more damage to the American nation. Put him on trial and lock him up. His considerable list of civil and criminal offences just got topped by crimes against the State and the heart of democracy. He has abused his power long enough. If there are any predictable factors in the miserable reality-show of his, it is Trump’s pathological mental state, his unhinged ambition to trample perceived enemies and his self-glorifying ego. He has tasted blood and, as a true and hardened populist, will never let go. As described, the unhealthy relationship between Trump and his followers is bound to escalate (the storming of the Capitol won’t be the end of the story). And yes, watch out for his silly family members too.The apple usually doesn’t fall far from the tree.