My psychology re Trump: Crime and Punishment

This blog might seem to show a Trump obsession — “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” But I have explained that this is not normal politics, it’s a discontinuity, with huge long-term ramifications. Attention must be paid.

I acknowledge an emotionality to my blogging.* My love for America, and the values I thought it stood for, are deeply felt. Their being trashed elicits correspondingly strong emotion. I feel as if betrayed by a lifelong beloved — and also as if she’s been raped, defiled, degraded.

Throughout my half century of political engagement, I’ve had strong opinions about issues, candidates, and personages. But nothing like this. There’s an added element operating here.

Evolution endowed human beings with strong justice feelings. This enhanced survival for early people living in close-knit cooperative groups. Rewarding behavior good for the group, and punishing antisocial conduct, made groups work better. That gave us pre-installed bad behavior detectors, and desire for punishment of transgressors.

Knowing myself, my own justice settings are on “high.” (At eleven, as Nigel said of the amplifiers in Spinal Tap.) And Trump triggers them in a way no other American political figure ever has.** My politically opposing them never extended to seeing them as moral violators meriting punishment. In fact I always used to criticize that kind of attitude, and the demonization of political opponents, arguing that we’re all sincere in wanting what’s best for our country.

That was then. This is different. In demonizing Trump it would be hard to overstate the case. And for him I do want not just political defeat but punishment. I want to see him suffer for what he’s done. Cellphone shoved down his throat (or elsewhere). (That’s the self-censored version of what I originally wrote.)

He’s the poster boy for the ancient conundrum — why does evil prosper? A man who’s done nothing but evil, cheating and lying his way through life, screwing people, leaving a scorched earth of injured victims (yes, that’s his business history), and reaping nothing but rewards. Indeed, what this narcissist craves most is attention, and has anyone ever gotten more?

I was brought up to believe lies and cheating should be punished. But never mind all his business victims. Of course Trump’s damage to our country is the really grievous crime. His getting away with it all, being rewarded, flouts my sense of justice. Remember too why we have one — to keep society working properly. People seen to get away with crime undermines the very basis on which we all live together. This is a cancer on our body politic. Unlike with normal political to-and-fro, I feel things are now cosmically out-of-whack, as though what I understood to be the laws of nature are scrambled. Trump’s comeuppance would restore the order of the Universe.

The religious might say that evildoers get their punishment in Hell. It was exactly to assuage justice cravings like mine that Hell was invented. But of course that’s as big a lie as any Trump tells.

And most religious Americans actually think he’s doing God’s work. And that God imparts morality!

* But emotion is never actually disconnected from reason. I have written about this.

** Though many in other countries deserve the Ceausescu-Qadafy treatment.

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7 Responses to “My psychology re Trump: Crime and Punishment”

  1. david c Says:

    You might turn your pen to the support mechanisms of this assault on Western Liberalism, where it might actually achieve some measure of success; which would be writing about the lies and manipulative techniques of media defenders of the president.

    In particular focus on those angry outraged conservative voices who sell anger and toxic outrage, making multi-million dollar annual incomes while defending authoritarian oligarchy, and trashing western liberalism and democratic representation.

    This heartless and cold ideological (economic) purity exists only in the Ego, not the real world.

  2. Lee Says:

    The pen is mightier than the cellphone down the throat. Please stick with what works best!

    (No, not a pen down his throat!)

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    The pen to be inserted elsewhere

  4. bruce Says:

    OK, we get it, he is a lousy creep.
    To be honest I haven’t seen signs of the end of the world coming. He hasn’t destroyed the globe, in fact there has been some reasonable approaches to what were silly stupid endeavors prior administrations embarked on.
    He can still make blunders worthy of your hatred of him but so far it has been relatively clean sledding. That is if you can look at what he has done from a clean unbiased viewpoint.
    I know, good luck with that.

  5. rationaloptimist Says:

    Bruce, remember, I was a Republican till last month; I think I have an unbiased viewpoint. If you don’t think the sky has fallen, maybe you haven’t noticed the damage to our democratic civil society when lying becomes the norm and is pretty much accepted. Et cetera. “Clean sledding?” I don’t think so!

  6. Mark V Says:

    Trump has repeatedly threatened to sue his critics for libel, and this is also a tactic that Putin favors. In 2009 a journalist was sent to prison for libel and for “inciting enmity against a specific social group.” The group is defined as government officials. [The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen.]

  7. Edit_XYZ Says:

    I suggest you change the title of this blog, then.
    “The Rational Optimist” has become wildly inaccurate.

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