Dealing with the Myth of Trumpism
In past articles of this series, we have considered the meaning of myth, constructive myths, destructive myths and a perverse myth- Trumpism. In this article, we will consider how to respond to Trumpism before it destroys our democracy. We are already close to another civil war at least in our minds. In the Republican party, a faction of people including legislators have accepted the myth of Trumpism as their “guiding fiction.” Many other Republicans including legislators at all levels tolerate Trumpism whether they subscribe to it or not.
The psychiatrist Alfred Adler coined the term guiding fiction. This is a way of thinking about life which guides a person’s actions. This fiction can be constructive and helpful in making decisions and managing the course of one’s life. It can also be destructive and complicate your life to say the least.
For some people, the Trumpian myth we discussed in the last post has created a path which requires that they sell their souls to Trump and allow him to become the central focus of their lives. We talked before of the implications of the Trumpian myth including:
- White supremacy and associated racism.
- Belief that Trump really won the 2020 presidential election despite all evidence being to the contrary.
- Acceptance of Trump as the only person who can lead us to the promised land, despite the destruction of democracy implied in his approach
- Accepting Trumpism as the only truth and Trump as the Chosen One as he has described himself.
For those of us who do not ascribe to the Trumpian myth, it is time to consider how to save our country from the self-serving path Trump would like us to follow. First let us consider approaches which are unlikely to succeed.
- Rational debate- Have you ever tried having a debate with a Trump devotee about politics? Based on my experience and that of others I know who have tried, such a debate leads nowhere. A constructive debate is based on facts and rational conversation about related topics. Most Trumpian beliefs turn out to be based on fantasy or outright lies like those Trump has been pedaling for years. Arguing about them is fruitless.
- Attacking the Trumpian guiding fiction.- Their principle is that Trump is always right and knows what is best for everyone. He will lead them out of darkness and chaos into the society he will create for our country. This fiction is not open for debate.
- Invitation to partnership- Compromise in the form of political bipartisanship or individual meeting of the minds is not an option for those devoted to the Trumpian myth. Trump is right and that is all there is to it.
The bluster of the Wizard of Oz and the intellectual nakedness of the Emperor’s New Clothes are stories that give us some insight into what we face in Trump and his devotees. As for answers and alternatives to Trumpism there are several possibilities which might well make a difference. Here are the ones which came to my mind:
- Allowing Trump devotees to see that their needs can be met by paths other than adhering to his empty promises. This is already taking place on several fronts. We are in the midst of a coordinated effort to manage the COVID pandemic which is showing good results. Bailout through cash payments has started our society on the path to recovery. Some Republican legislators are even taking credit for the benefits to their constituents which they voted against. Current proposals before Congress also include taking responsibility for protection of the environment, our home. In addition, police reform is also a legislative proposal leading us toward more protection and less brutality.
- Recognizing the lack of practical proposals. In Trump’s quest for the presidency in both elections, he had no concrete proposals other than the New Order he promised. Details of this plan never appeared, not to mention getting anything done- only the overthrow of the status quo which was well underway during Trump’s tenure as president.
- Realizing that the only stated goal of the Republicans is to defeat Democrats and block anything they propose. Other than that, the Republicans have nothing concrete to offer even in light of the many needs of our country and citizens.
- Recognition that unreformed police tactics are a danger to all of our citizens.
- Recognition of the benefits of the rule of law other than operating on the whims of leaders such as Trump and retribution for not supporting him unconditionally in their attempt to build a society around their own needs rather than those of society as a whole.
- Recognition of the contributions of immigrants over the lifespan of our society as opposed to societal inbreeding.
- Recognition that all individuals, despite their political leanings, can make a contribution to rebuilding our society together.
- Recognition that healthcare, education and job opportunities will create a safer society by greatly reducing the number of citizens angry and frustrated by their lack of progress.
- Learning to recognize the contributions of new cultures toward enriching the American experience as we have done with past immigrant groups throughout American history.
- Welcoming Republicans who are willing to compromise as partners in working toward our national progress.
In my opinion, none of these possibilities will result in resolution of our difficulties and disagreements. Yet together and with other possible factors beyond our current awareness, they can help us build a society in which we can all prosper and where we can all live together in peace.