Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump succumbs to ideological psychoses

Michael Gerson (Washington Post) offers this diagnosis: Trump spirals into ideological psychosis. He provides plenty of evidence and explores the consequences of arguably the most powerful position on the planet being occupied by a certified psychotic.

The evidence for Gerson's diagnosis is plastered all over the media, so you don't have to look far, work hard to find it.

In recent days, Trump has sneered at the looks of a woman who accuses him of sexual assault, denigrated the appearance of Hillary Clinton, proposed to drug-test his opponent, used his campaign to promote what appears to be a Russian covert operation, asserted that Clinton has held secret meetings with international bankers “to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty,” attacked “Saturday Night Live,” promised to jail his opponent and contended that the “whole election is being rigged.”

Which means that Trump is sickeningly cruel, boorish, bonkers, subversive, conspiratorial, obsessive, authoritarian and reckless with the reputation of American democracy.

The consequences are profoundly negative for our nation.

(1) It means that the Republican nominee for president is frighteningly unstable under pressure. He is easily baited, highly sensitive to slights, prone to using faulty information from the Internet, hyperbolic and vengeful. Now imagine those characteristics during a confrontation with China in the South China Sea.

(2) It is an indication of the quality of his closest, non-family advisers. Stephen Bannon and Rudy Giuliani are not attempting to keep Trump in check. They are feeding his manias. Trump is completely unmoored from restraining influences, and would be as president.

(4) It is a further indication (as if we needed it) that Trump has no commitment to the American political system. He is perfectly willing to delegitimize democratic institutions as a campaign tactic, squandering a civic inheritance he does not value. Even before his current troubles, he said that an electoral loss would be prima facie evidence of fraud and encouraged supporters to monitor majority-black polling stations in Pennsylvania. Now he is entering uncharted territory. By preemptively questioning the legitimacy of his forthcoming shellacking, Trump is stepping outside the four corners of the constitutional order, on the model of autocratic strongmen he has publicly admired.

(6) Trump’s final appeal is also corrupting a portion of the public and crossing moral lines that won’t be easily uncrossed. There are certain qualities of heart and mind that allow for self-government — civility, tolerance and mutual respect. In his rage and ruthlessness, Trump is inviting Americans to drink from a poisoned well. One problem is the risk of physical violence — the possible influence of unhinged rhetoric on an unbalanced mind. The broader result is radical polarization in which citizens question the legitimacy of elections and view some fellow citizens as enemies.

Check out Gerson's article for the items not covered above.

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