Psychologist Lyn Bender discusses the bullying tactics of President-elect Donald Trump and the implications of his victory for Australia.
I WAS SUFFERING from an intractable malaise.
Maybe it was Trumpitus.
My doctor prescribed an antibiotic. As for my Trump induced despair, she could only add glumly,
“I have had patients come in weeping about Trump winning but it’s done now.”
We have watched as this caricature, of the worst stereotype of the ugly American, abused his opponent, Hillary Clinton. He used all the old techniques that a bully and violent abuser exercises over his prey. He stalked, dominated and denigrated. He threatened and incited violence. His every utterance was designed to display his white masculine supremacist credo. Every declaration enacted the myth of rough, brute strength.
He outdid John Wayne and Clint Eastwood in his cowboy rhetoric. Trump did not debate rationally. He fought hard and he fought dirty. The emotions he sanctioned and incited were resentment, hate, anger and detestation of the vulnerable. He smiled at those who gratified his desires. He mocked and mimicked disability. He threatened revenge on the steady parade of women who claimed to have resisted his unwanted groping.
We watched mesmerised. His sexism and racism was called out but even in the face of televised evidence, it was disputed. In victory, Trump has been "redeemed" as a man representing the dissatisfied and the resentful — those left behind, like the desperate poor depicted in John Steinbeck’s masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath.
Trump was given vicarious credence as an ally of the wronged. The Ku Klux Klan of black lynching fame, endorsed him and their former "grand wizard" has declared Trump’s victory as the best day of his life. One Nation's Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts toasted Trump on the lawns of Parliament House.
Like the wise blind men seeking to describe an elephant, many sought to discover the nature of the beast. Naomi Klein cited neo-liberalism. Anne Summers called out sexism. Gloria Steinem declared that after Trump’s election the U.S. is like a victim of domestic abuse. Perhaps Trump won due to clever branding and marketing? Maybe Hillary Clinton lost because she represented old establishment and couldn't reach the disenchanted?
While there is truth in all these observations, it is a fragmented analysis.
We, of the first world, are anxious about many things — terrorism, boat arrivals, economic failure and the truly terrifying but mostly denied, slow train wreck of the looming climate catastrophe. Those paying attention observe extinctions, fouled eco-systems, droughts, sinking islands flooded coastlines, genocide and mass displacement of people fleeing drought and war.
As in 1930s Germany, fear leads to embracing simple, wildly inadequate or absurd solutions. Trump seized the opportunity.
To those left behind by globalisation, Trump declared:
I will make (white) America great again. For those feeling alienated and forgotten, I will build a wall. If you seek a scapegoat for your fears or misfortune, I will marginalise and deport Muslims and Mexicans. If you are a disgruntled white man, feeling humiliated by women’s rights, I will show you how to abuse and sexually dominate women. If you feel overwhelmed by experts and modern science, I will denounce climate change as a Chinese hoax. If you feel weak, I am the strong, tough man you need. I am a winner and you can get my trickle-down glory. In this game show of life, sit back and watch the evictions. Be enthused by me — the great Donald.
Trump has displayed narcissism in word and deed. He has proudly paraded his misanthropic world view. Watch and gratify me, is his message. If you are on my side I will reward you. If you oppose me I will exact my revenge. I must always get what I want. I punish those who dare to thwart me. I seek to understand you only in order to manipulate you. I feel no empathy for the suffering of others. I am Donald the conqueror.
Out of millions of Americans, this deeply flawed billionaire in his golden tower has won the game show jackpot.
The election of Donald Trump has been a victory for and triumph of, hard masculine white supremacy and its attendant horror show.
What happens now in the U.S. has huge implications for world peace and climate action.
Trump’s elevation is a big neon warning sign.
He champions sexism, bigotry racism, inequality, violence, ignorance and destruction of our earth. We can and must oppose, these unenlightened suicidal and homicidal values of the dark ages.
We can oppose the Trump credo that makes hate mainstream.
We can courageously and relentlessly demand a higher politic. We can act by protesting, voting and challenging inequality, racial vilification and climate denial.
Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt has tweeted:
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