If Donald Trump is anything, he is a victim. Despite his billionaire status Trump retains popularity by becoming the underdog. On the campaign trail he claimed to be persecuted by a liberal media, a corrupt political class and big money. Now that Trump has his hands on the government, his supposed enemies have become the very government he is supposed to be running. Trump is not just rebelling against the “Deep State”, but all government. “Big” government includes, and perhaps only includes, the regulations that hold back Trump and friends’ profit margin. Trump may bicker with the national security state, but he has done their wishes. If anything, the national security state holds Trump back from intervention, who would ever have thought that?
The real enemy that Trump wants to dismantle is government as we know it. He is certainly not in a real war with the military, police or immigration forces. Trump has built up their budgets and made them his first priority. Trump hasn’t been so friendly to organizations like the EPA. The Trump Administration just announced a plan to roll back restrictions on methane. This is an act that embraces death for the planet with open arms! Scientists say that methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide for global warming. But of course these scientists are just collaborators of the Deep State, so who cares! Donald Trump wants the whole planet to die. There is no changing his mind.
I was thinking about Trump and if “evil” was the correct word to describe him. It certainly is a good word for Trump, but maybe not the best one. It is hard to imagine Trump cackling behind the scenes, twiddling his fingers. Trump is more driven by a self-obsessed paranoia than anything else. He imagines himself to be the victim of an array of plots. It is true a lot of people hate him. But it is astounding that after all the harm Trump does to all of us each day that he is still thinking of himself. An evil genius one would think would take some time to admire his work. And as far as destruction of society goes, Trump has been spectacularly great.
Trump though is no genius. He operates on feeling. His only real skill is channeling his own fear into a destructive whirlwind that excites some, scares many and repulses most. This cosmic energy can still be used to rile up a disillusioned basket of deplorables. These are the only people Trump has left and he will have to use them.
Trump really only takes note of other people when he is deciding how to use them. When his goals are self-interest, the Donald can actually sense how people operate very well. He is a great politician, despite his claims to be anything else. Any other time though Donald just seems to be immune from the pain of other people. Any well-functioning human being wakes up in Trump’s America with some feeling of compassion for the victims of the Trump administration. But amazingly, despite being the key orchestrator, Trump shares none of these feelings.
Surely a great amount of being evil amounts to stupidity, which Donald Trump has plenty of. But the lack of empathy for others has been especially impressive. Republicans in the past, such as Mike Pence, seemed to be capable of evil because they had very few feelings. Republicans could set themselves a set of rules and stick to them without blinking. No matter how cruel the rules were Republicans could say tough luck, these are the rules. The rules were an odd collection surely. Some combination of deregulation, war and far right Christianity. But being a conservative basically has meant being sure of your shitty rules and not thinking about anything else. This approach provides the illusion of security, safety and order.
Trump though seems to change his mind every day, if not every hour. He is quite neurotic. In this way he seems to break from traditional conservative thinking. Yet Trump finds his way to be just as evil as other Republicans, if not more so. How is this possible for a man who has so few rules?
Trump works for conservatives because his mind only thinks about himself. All Trump needs to see is a friend or an enemy and he will act accordingly. In this way, Trump is more narrow-minded than anyone else. His friends are billionaires. His more loose friends are his base. Just about everyone else is his enemy. Trump appears to be thinking quite a bit because he is constantly pivoting to weed out who is for or against him. In reality the man is merely spinning in circles, unaware of anything going on outside a five foot radius. When it comes to world affairs, or knowledge of any kind, Trump is profoundly ignorant.
We should remember the close links between narcissism and the capability for tangibly evil acts. Think only of yourself and you will do only by yourself.
Trump also has the disease of more. No matter how high he rises he feels under attack. This is a disease of gluttony that is quite American. Trump’s paranoia is shared by much of his base.
In some ways, the paranoia by the average American is legitimate. There is of course the coming mass extinction via climate change, which has already devastated much of the planet. No one knows exactly when that will destroy us all, but it surely is something to be paranoid about. The rise of the national security state post-9/11 is frightening as well. Then there is also the legitimate grievances against the billionaire class and the government who has enabled them. There is also reason to suspect a collapse of the American Empire as we know it, something Chris Hedges has tracked closely.
But these are not often the political considerations of paranoia. There is a fear of Muslim terrorists, Mexican rapists, conniving socialists, uppity women, castrating gays and government workers.
The real victims of Trump’s America have little time for such conspiracies. They are real victims, so they can run, hide or fight. But the victims Trump conjures up have to not only created, but found. It’s really a lot of work for someone who is under siege.
America has been a victim for all of my memory, with 9/11 being one of my first ones. I don’t remember a time when America’s values were somehow under attack. I wondered what the countries we were bombing thought about the whining about “values” being under attack. Who cares about values? America was attacking these countries’ water supplies, homes, schools and hospitals. Yet somehow we were the victim?
9/11 brought out so many idiosyncrasies of America. Bush did 9/11, or Deep State did 9/11 remains a maddening theory of paranoia. Then there was the fact that we went to war with Afghanistan, who had no involvement in the incident. This was less paranoia than sheer opportunism by the elites. But the fact that we could go to war with a completely different country seemed just outrageous. Of course war with anyone is outrageous and despicable and wrong. But the blind thrusting of weapons all over the world showed that our supposed enemy was always everywhere and therefore quite a conjuring.
Playing the victim became our justification for decimating countries across the Middle East. Since September 11, 2001, playing the victim has been extremely important for many of our most sickening political moves.
From the outset, Donald Trump has played the role of the victim. When people called Trump out for his bullying behaviors, suddenly he was the victim—his freedom threatened, his speech in danger. In response Trump has made hate speech great again while assaulting free speech as a principle through his attacks on the media. The new rule is: if Trump says it, great. If anyone else says it, it is treason. 9/11 worked much the same way. Because our “freedom” was assaulted by the terrorists we were now to hand over all our freedom to Bush-Cheney and let them watch our every move. We were also supposed to support them destroying entire countries for the sake of the construct of freedom.
After sexually harassing women, Trump becomes the victim of a witch hunt (despite the real witch hunts being against females). After making deals with the most corrupt billionaires we know, Trump says he is draining the swamp. After siding with the worst polluters, Trump says that it is the government that is killing us. After tearing apart immigrant families, Trump says we should be afraid of immigrants. No matter how many people die from his latest catastrophic decision, Donald Trump will still be thinking of his own problems. If his narcissism wasn’t killing us all we could take some satisfaction in how sad the man really is.