The Mad King in His Time

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT).”

– Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

The country is divided as to whether President Donald J. Trump is a mad king. If he is indeed mad, then this even divide is more than scary. What is the reasoning that accommodates madness? What sort of times can we be living in?

Perhaps his madness doesn’t matter if your stock portfolio is doing well.

Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as president and any other candidate “gone left” seem not to be as favorably inclined to the amassing of wealth as the madman now in office.

This madman, after all, will not push the private health care industry, along with the obscenely and immorally lucrative Big Pharma, aside nor the global warming fossil fuel industry. When the opportunity arises President Trump will not appoint Liberals/Progressives/”Socialists” to the Supreme Court. He’s not going to raise taxes to save, I mean “reform,” anything with the word “public” in it. And he’ll require professional vitae from any immigrant seeking asylum.

In short, he may be a mad king, but he’ll keep private enterprise, privatization and all things private private. He’ll keep the country white, safe, armed and great again. He’ll keep the phenomenal wealth piling up at the top out of the hands of The People, meaning all those not able to afford the $200,000 for Mar- a- Lago membership.

If you don’t have a stock portfolio loaded with fossil fuel and health care stock, you may still warm to the private not public view of things.

Private is you, personally. Your personal freedom grounded in personal choice, your choice grounded in your total individual autonomy. Your fight for individual freedom is a fight to hold on to your guns, your own personally chosen doctors, your own freedom to be charitable when and to whom you choose rather than allow the Federal Government to financially aid those outside your field of choice.

You fight for your personal and private right to immunize or not, to public school or not and socialize your child as you see fit. You do so within the overarching view that self-interest is real, and society is an abstract, nebulous notion concocted by Karl Marx, who lived his whole life on the charity of his friend, Friedrich Engels.

Thusly and so, whether the king is mad or not doesn’t matter because having him in the White House is like being there yourself, minus all those Tweets which fuel the charge of madness.

And there are very many absolute crazy tweets, especially so when you consider they are the pronouncements of the President of the United States.

Words he doesn’t like are fake words. Polls he doesn’t like are fake polls. News he doesn’t like are fake news. The attempt to investigate his welcoming of the Russians into the 2016 election, and now once again welcoming any foreign assistance in the 2020 election, and his transparent attempts to obstruct investigation all amounts to a “witch hunt.”

Nothing, in short, really exists as true and real unless the President says it does.

The less mad approach would be, as the President urges, to investigate those presuming to investigate him. If that amounts to launching attacks on Congressional power in our check and balances, tripartite government, then such destruction must be done. In the name of making America great again, an America no one has ever seen before, an America shorn of every obstruction to the mad king’s own will.

Madness takes us to the moment when half of the population believes that to make America great again, the Congress, the Intelligence Community, and the Fourth Estate need to get out of the President’s way. We need to think, if we’re not mad ourselves, that it’s not the democratic foundations of a liberal democracy that Trump is pulling apart but The Deep State.

That Deep State is not the class dividing, technocratic, meritocratic, market economy, liberal democracy that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are fighting, No, in Trump’s mind it is no more than an order of things in place set against his own whim and will. He is not opposed to the strong men who have amassed power and fortune for themselves in corporate and political worlds. If we get liberal democracy out of the way, our President can deal one on one with the weak and the strong. He can demonstrate once again how great he is.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you can excuse Trump’s madness because he serves your own personal interests or because you think he’s your personal savior and avow that “he’s not just fighting Democrats. He’s fighting the deep state. He’s fighting the cabals. Without him, we have nothing.” (NYTimes June 19, 2019). The fact remains that he is mad and unquestionably bad and dangerous.

I could say there’s false consciousness at work among those who “without him, have nothing” but that charge can be reversed and made against all those who want Trump gone. We live at a moment when obstruction of justice charges laid at Trump’s doorstep seem now as likely to be made against those who initiated those charges. Manafort may go free and Hillary locked up kind of Mad Hatter times we are in.

The times are truly out of joint. Hamlet thinks the world is not sane, but he also thinks he is unable to set it right. We believe that electoral action will set it right, but the fact is that the evil we face has lodged itself in the American mass psyche. We now imagine within an upside-down world Trump did not create but certainly brought out of the asylum onto the stage of American life.

Terrible conditions before us persist.

It’s madness to deny Anthropocene climate change, to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change mitigation, to appoint a former coal lobbyist as head of the EPA. But it’s clearly evil to stoke the flames of fear and hatred in a culture in which what has always been latent is now given a presidential sanction to surface.

It’s clearly evil to pursue and afflict repeatedly immigrants who are brown, poor and not of our language or culture because such attacks feed the darkest devils of our nature which most certainly fill the wellsprings of the President’s appeal.

The President he did not singlehandedly prepare the American mass psyche for this demonic success. The times are both filled with the results of market driven, class dividing, technocratic, meritocratic forces and a blind fury set against those results, times when it has all come down to “them” or “us.”

In short, the populist will may be trucking in the mud of hatred and blind to the absence of the President’s moral sense and blind to his madness, but they have not been unprovoked. They did not lead themselves to a last stand against their own “creative destruction.”

We see that the times are fitting for an amour de soi, a self-love, which is willing to game the lives of future generations by failing to mitigate the dangers of global warming, as well as study and respect a Constitutional and international order of things, and respect an American tradition of a deeply humane pledge to succor the tired, the poor, the.huddled masses yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse of other lands.

Without doubt our resident orders of things have bowed to the axiomatic drives of a zero-sum economics. Nevertheless, such are the grounds we have to recuperate the lives of the many, grounds preferable to a grounding in madness and a destructive self-love, both of which are there to be observed in the President.

What a marvelous hallucination of a mind so lost in the deep and dark labyrinth of its own self admired will to power! The Deep State. A cabal of everyone who stands in the way of this assertion of magisterial will, erratic, mindless and contradictory as it presents itself within any 24-hour news cycle.

The man spews forth nonsense and poisonous venom at just the rate the very hungry media needs to keep the voracious but ten second attention span viewer that Fox TV promoted, using the fast cycling of words and spectacle introduced by MTV. Cyberspace and its social media have pumped out that machinery of disconnected, erratic stimulus and gut response to 5G levels.

President Trump resists those who want him to tweet less, uncannily knowing that the more he overloads the communication circuitry, the more he can drown sensible opposition in the mires of madness.

I believe historians will say that not only did candidate Trump press all the “We’ve Had Enough” buttons in the American mass psyche that both political parties had both created and ignored, but his ever flowing, unstoppable madness was the proper feed for a mass psyche that had lost its vision of “the general Welfare” and wandered into the spins and spectacles of cyberspace wherein no one truly knows anyone, least of all who is mad and who isn’t.

Trump’s madness – he’s too deep into reality denial to call it a chronic neuroticism – may not appear so glaring if the entire culture had not already given itself up to a fierce competitive will to power wherein the strong win and the losers beg for welfare.

If he wasn’t the President, he would fall in and mix with the crowd of other Winners on the American landscape, indistinguishable one from the other. Would Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Travis Kalanick or a re-incarnated Steve Jobs display fewer madness symptoms than Trump if one of them had been elected president? The lords of wealth and power are all like Humpty Dumpty: everything means what they say it means. Of course, it’s hard to imagine any of our wealth merchants as mad as Trump or displaying it so clearly.

We are certainly having a hard time distinguishing reliable wording from unreliable, reliable images – ponder the Deep Fakes advancing to the 2020 election – from fakes, cranks, hucksters, Pecksniffs, egoists and ass kissers, from anything or anyone honest and real. If this is the case, we are destined to elect more Trump-like mad creatures simply because we choose what’s most like what we have become.

We now have “virtual influencers,” virtual beings who cannot be distinguished as such in an “environment studded with deceptive deepfakes, bots and fraud.” NYTimes, June 18, 2019). This environment in which the truth is under assault, to quote Adam Schiff, is one in which he “cannot imagine anything more corrosive to a democracy than an environment where no one can tell what is true anymore.”

If this is so then a worn, long experienced and unsensational candidate for the presidency such as Joe Biden, Middle Class/Working Class Joe, not liable to go viral anywhere on social media, doesn’t quite meet the demands of a super-accelerated American mass psyche looking for change as quickly moving as Smart phone displays are moved by two thumbs.

While Trump remains ageless in that accelerated world— because who can more as fast as a mad mind? — Biden’s age problem has nothing to do with past or future but only with his analog aura. This syndrome may affect Sanders and Warren as well while AOC’s catapult to acronym status has much to do with the fact that her speed is in sync with the times.

It remains to be seen whether the synchronicity of Trump’s madness and the American mass psyche can and will be repeated by a synchronicity of sanity.

The times are filled with a vitriolic inhumanity, the madness of one man but also the Babel of Deep Fakes, resistant and unerasable irrationality, the barrage of stupefying messaging, the crossfire and crushes of social media that cannot be exorcised or vacated. And, most significantly, the times are filled with the destructive consequences of a Market Rule established gleefully by Reagan, still destined to be carved into Rushmore as madness continues to flourish.

These are waters that Trump does not swim in alone, waters in which we are all swimming.

A mass psyche jacked up and jacked into a world divided into a planetary reality heading for a crisis in which humans will not survive, and into a cyber world of shadows from a darkened collective Id may in one election rid itself of our mad, bad and dangerous king.

The times, however, that brought him forth and upon which he will leave his stamp are not subject to a referendum. We can expect to repeat much unless Chance pulls us toward a reasoning and sanity that offers us different times in which to live.

If indeed we are ruled by a mad King in lifetime residence or thrown into a bloody riot of “them” or “us” following the President’s refusal to accept an election’s results then “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.”


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Joseph Natoli has published books and articles, on and off line, on literature and literary theory, philosophy, postmodernity, politics, education, psychology, cultural studies, popular culture, including film, TV, music, sports, and food and farming. His most recent book is Travels of a New Gulliver.

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