Trump reflections III

Continued from two previous posts.

Short memory. I can’t help thinking that what we see today – Trump becoming president and what he promotes gaining momentum in the western world – is allowed to happen only because people have short memories. They have already forgotten, or perhaps not really learned, about Hitler and WW2. They don’t know what mass scale intolerance, leaders acting on emotional reactivity, and rule by the financial elite, leads to. Only the oldest still have a personal memory, and in countries with poor education – such as the US – people haven’t learned the lessons thoroughly enough through school or the media.

That’s also why some of his supporters said “what do we have to lose?” when what they have to lose is a great deal. At least from the outside, it seems they don’t realize what they have to lose, or are educated well enough to know it viscerally. They don’t seem to have the larger historical picture.

This not the reason it happened, but it’s the reason it was allowed to happen: Those who still personally remember are too few to have a significant impact, and past lessons are too remote for a large enough segment of the population.

Diagnosing. I am not a fan of diagnosing anyone in public or at a distance. It’s unprofessional and can too easily be used to attack the person rather than addressing the issues. In Trump’s case, his very public behavior is enough to disqualify him from any position of leadership.

In a political context, there is no need to try to figure out the deeper why’s and how’s of his behavior. It’s only a distraction.

Trauma behavior. Still, in a psychological context, it can be interesting to explore what may be going on, knowing that it’s not really possible to diagnose at a distance. Being familiar with trauma behavior from working with clients and studies, I recognize what seems like trauma behavior. (Reacitvity, impulsivity, intolerance, dehumanizing others, recklessness, thin skinned, vengeance, short sightedness, not caring if what he says is true or not as long as he gets what he wants.) Trump seems to have made living from these trauma symptoms a badge of honor which only makes it more dangerous.

Repeating traumas. People who are traumatized tend to get themselves into situations where they repeat the trauma. They get themselves into those situations because it’s a familiar pattern. (It feels familiar and comfortable at some level, and they act from the trauma which creates similar situations as the initial traumatic situation.) And it’s also an invitation to recognize the trauma and seek healing for it. Some of Trump’s supporters may support him because his trauma behavior is familiar to them from their families and their own life.

More importantly, they may support him because they have had to suppress their own most destructive reactive trauma behavior due to social pressure and expectation, and here is someone who acts it out in public and, in essence, says “it’s OK to live and act from destructive reactive trauma behavior”. It can feel liberating for them to see it, and then use it to allow themselves to live more openly from their own trauma pain. Or, more precisely, act from their reactivity to their trauma pain which can take the form of anger, blame, bigotry, overly simplistic solutions, not caring about facts, and so on. It can feel good in the short run, but it’s definitely destructive in the longer run. In this case, it’s destructive on a large scale.

Said another way, it can feel good for them to say “fuck you” to the elite, but in this case, they only hurt themselves.

Action and compassion. This is pretty obvious. We can strongly oppose Trump’s policies, call him out when he is spreading untruths, and support what we want to see in the world. At the same time, it’s fully possible to have compassion for him and his pain. His pain is quite evident. He wouldn’t act the way he does if he wasn’t acting on his own pain. And we can have compassion and seek to understand his supporters. The two go hand in hand. They even support each other. (Strong action makes it easier to find compassion, and compassion leads to more clear and strong action.)

Disruption. In a bigger picture, who knows what will come out of this. In an evolutionary context, disruption often leads to new traits in existing species, new species gaining momentum, and a new course for evolution. The early oxygen crisis led to new opportunities for life. Dinosaurs dying out created space for mammals to flourish. Who knows what a Trump presidency will lead to in the bigger picture. It may or may not be what many of us wish for or would have chosen, but it may be something we can appreciate the gifts in.

Integral view. Life is a whole and we look at it from different angles. That means it’s good to look at anything from multiple angles to get a fuller picture, while also knowing that none, nor all of them together, is a final or absolute truth. If we want to be more systematic about it, we can use an integral model or map such as Ken Wilber’s. This is also true when we look at the Trump situation. Some of the “default” angles for me include: (a) The big picture. Lila. It’s the play of life or the divine.

Some of the “default” angles for me include:

(a) The big picture.

(i) Lila. It’s the play of life or the divine.

(ii) We don’t know what will come out of it. Historically and evolutionarily, disruptions often lead to something we find valuable and attractive, at least in the longer run. (iii) It’s an opportunity for each of us to live what we want to see in the world.

(iii) It’s an opportunity for each of us to live what we want to see in the world.

(b) Social/political. One of the reasons we have Brexit and Trump is neoliberal corporate globalization, international agreements aimed at maximizing profit for multinational corporations at the expense of people, nature, and future generations. People see this and know it’s wrong. And, unfortunately, the Democrats chose a candidate that embodies this misguided approach.

(c) Psychological. Trump and some of his supporters seem to act from reactivity to trauma pain. Their views and behavior are classic trauma symptoms. Hurt people can be reckless and hurt themselves and other people.

Be what you wish to see in the world. To me, the situation with Trump is a reminder to be what I wish to see in the world.

Will they ever realize? Will Trump supporters realize that his policies are not in their interest? Or that he says whatever he thinks will get him what he wants? And will they care? It’s of course individual so the responses will vary. Some will continue to receive their information from sources that frame to deflect attention or blame others, and they may never realize it or care. Some will realize and they will blame others and not Trump. Some will realize it and get upset. Some will realize it, or have known it all along, and still think it was worth voting for him based on one or a few limited issues. Some may even have bought into an ideology that obviously is against their own interests.

The Republican strategy. I saw this in a comment to a Robert Reich video, and I thought it sums it up very nicely:

The solution to all Republican problems is always bankrupt a functional govt. agency and then privatize it so their friends can make more profits.

What I find hard to believe is that people – voters – actually buy into this. Why would they buy into something that’s so obviously a scam to increase profits for the few at the cost of everyone else?

Of course, the same is the case with many recent wars, including the Iraq war. It was all designed to create profits for a few corporations at the expense of soldiers and their families, taxpayers, and the devastation of a country. Another aspect of the Republican agenda is to channel taxpayer money to private corporations to increase their profits.

You lost too. And another thing I saw on Facebook:

Dear Trump supporter: You lost too. It just hasn’t hit you yet.

Getting what they asked for, and understanding. At a surface level, Trump supporters are getting what they asked for. They “should” have known better. All the information was out there. If they actually believed what he said, it’s their fault.

More honestly, I have understanding and empathy for them. They will be hurt as much or more by his policies. They acted on their own conditioning which prevented them from doing more thorough research about him and the consequences of what he will do – or to take that information more seriously.

And from yet another perspective, I know I have my own bias and don’t really know what the outcome will be. Based on my background, and especially being Norwegian, I see it as crazy to support him. He is reckless and will try to tear down social safety nets and policies benefiting people, nature, and future generations. What has been built up over decades and even centuries can easily be torn down in a few months or years. And in the big picture, who knows what the outcome will be. From the ashes, something else will arise.

Distractions & bringing to the surface. Trump seems to have the dual quality of (a) distracting from the real issues and what’s really going on through is outrageous behavior, and (b) bringing to the surface and making it more obvious what’s really going on.

And that is really the Republican strategy: Distract the public attention (traditionally through appealing to values) while implementing policies to increase profits for their friends at the expense of the public.

The main question is how successful the Republican propaganda is going to be. Will they be able to distract their voters attention sufficiently and successfully continue to blame someone else? Or will more people be able to see through it this time?

Conservative Christians. I don’t have trouble understanding that responsible conservatives can be Christians. But the conservative Christians in the US too often seem anything but Christian. Jesus was a radical who hang out with the outcasts and underdogs, and spoke out against the establishment and excessive profiteering. If he lived today, he would most likely be on the side of the LGBTs, sustainability, future generations, strong social safety nets, and creating a new and more sustainable systems in all areas of society. Of course, this is my bias, but it also seems founded in the stories we have about his life.

Anti-science. Why would Trump and Republicans be anti-science? After all, science is what has allowed the relative prosperity we have now, it’s what’s drives technology and business innovation, and it’s what allows most corporations to be successful. There is a simple reason: on the surface, it seems that science sometimes and in a very limited way blocks profits. For instance, climate science will – if taken seriously – be a serious break on the petroleum industry. What they overlook or chose to ignore is that renewable energy is already often cheaper than fossil fuels, and it’s already a growing and very profitable industry. Again, the reason the overlook this is simple: their buddies belong to the petroleum industry more than the renewable industry.

Prediction. Some things that may happen: The Republicans will be split about Trump (as they are), and some will support him and get on his good side for their own benefit, and some will oppose some of his actions and policies. “Policy” seems a far too consistent sounding word to be used in the Trump context.) Trump will continue to offend people nationally and internationally.

“Policy” seems a far too consistent sounding word to be used in the Trump context. He will most likely continue to act in an unpredictable – and reckless – manner. He will continue to offend people nationally and internationally and create unpredictable and dangerous situations.

There will be calls for impeachment, especially connected to mixing business and presidency. If the Republicans find him useful, the majority of them will ignore it. If they find Pence or someone else more useful as President, or they feel that Trump is too unpredictable or harms the Republican brand too severely, they’ll go ahead with impeachment.

It’s also possible that Trump will resign – either because he doesn’t enjoy the job or he is about to be impeached – and blame someone else for it.

Many will realize what’s been obvious for a long time to anyone paying attention: Trump will say whatever he thinks will get him what he wants. (Regardless of facts or what he really intends to do.)

It’s hard to say what will happen in the medium time range. Most likely, the Republicans will use the current situation (controlling congress and presidency) to get through as many pet policies as possible, including privatization. Many voters will realize first hand – and perhaps too late – how much they benefited from previous policies, however flawed and lacking they were. This may reduce the support of the Republican party, although the Republican propaganda machinery may also convince many to blame someone else.

The Democrats will try to abolish the electoral college since Republicans benefit from it (more liberal voters congregate in a few states on either coast), but the Republicans won’t let it happen.

Crazy. To me, the view of the Trump supporters often appears out of touch with reality. To them, liberal views may appear the same way. With the internet and fragmented media, we live in a society of information bubbles, are served quite different basic information, and we often don’t even agree on the basic facts. And that makes the basic assumptions and worldviews of people living in a different bubble appear crazy. Of course, in many situations something is correct and some things are not. And while people across the political spectrum are liable to get some facts wrong, surveys show that Trump supporters are more likely to have their facts wrong.

They know what they are doing. We all act and perceive from conditioning, from our biological, psychological, and social makeup and history. Trump and his supporters do the same. At the same time, I can’t help thinking that they know what they are doing, at least to some extent. My suspicion is that to many Trump supporters, it feels good to act on reactivity and they value that higher than the actual real-life consequences of a Trump presidency, even if it will directly harm them and their families. And somewhere, they probably know that.

Conservatism. Conservatism has many flavors. The worst flavor is the type of conservatism that seeks to enrich the rich and funnel money from the rest to the already wealthy. (I don’t quite understand why or how that’s conservatism, or why anyone in their right mind would vote for someone – like Trump – who represents it.) The much more healthy forms of conservatism has to do with appreciating and valuing culture and traditions (at least the healthy traditions), and being good stewards of nature. Trump represents the worst type of conservatism, if it can even be called that. He even favors the fossil fuel industry even if renewables are already in the process of taking over based on economics alone.

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