Fighting for Our Democracy

No one, but no one, should stay home

Posted Nov 03, 2016

I stopped blogging last year because all I wanted to write about was “political.” Things have gone so far with Mr. Trump that what may have been “only political” is now personal and psychological. While some psychologists have discussed the narcissistic features evident in Mr. Trump and I certainly don’t deny he exhibits those characteristics, the narcissist diagnosis fails to include what I think is most important, and why this election has created such a charged atmosphere. Mr. Trump is better described by the criteria of a paranoid personality disorder (PPA) (see below). This has become a psycho-social problem; paranoia is contagious, and to some extent, we’ve all become paranoid, temporarily.

Lynn E. O'Connor
Source: Lynn E. O'Connor

The conspiratorial thinking of the paranoid has permeated our culture. We see the actions of the FBI as a conspiracy, organized to steal this election from what might be the first woman president. Or, if we’re followers of Mr. Trump, we see support for Secretary Clinton as an organized attempt to “steal the election” from Mr. Trump, who says the election is “rigged.” His influence is everywhere, there’s no way to escape it.  And so it has become imperative to review the relevant facts of Mr. Trump’s history. A nation run by a paranoid character can’t be a democracy; we have to fight for our democracy or we risk living with the fear induced by a paranoid mind and this is most definitely a psychological problem. We might ask why so many Americans were attracted to Mr. Trump in the first place. The popular explanation is that his followers are the angry, disaffected white working class population, suffering the despair of a class fall.  Instead, perhaps, Mr. Trump’s followers have been seduced by Mr. Trump because they don’t see him as Mr. Trump at all.  Instead, they see him as the lead character on the Apprentice. How many of Trump’s supporters were followers of the Apprentice? 

The media, even the left-leaning media, has been overrun by Trump paranoia. What used to be strong, sometimes brilliant reporters have been transformed into fear-ridden performers, afraid of being accused of being “biased,” afraid of being accused of being part of the system by which the election is “rigged.” In the name of neutrality, their neutrality is gone and instead they’ve become insidiously pro-Trump supporters. Victims of Trump paranoia, even liberal reporters have been passing it on to us, as we’ve become a paranoid nation. I know the Trump paranoia has been spreading because at moments, I find myself having paranoid thoughts and I’m not a paranoid person. This election has almost everyone having dark paranoid thoughts. 

Last weekend, late on a Saturday afternoon, I turned on MSNBC and was dismayed to see them running Trump’s whole 55 or so minute speech. Everyone’s probably listened to him by now, but to be honest here, I hadn’t. Not whole speeches. In fact I’d never heard a whole speech by any demagogue—at least in English. I’d only heard bits and pieces of Trump, and of course I’d heard old news recordings from 1930s and early '40s speeches, in German. The sound is the same.

Trump is enraging. The first 10 minutes were devoted to screeching on about “criminal Hillary” and the newly emerged emails, which he claimed, were yet more evidence of her “criminal disregard” for “you, the American people.” He goes further, accusing her of deliberately exposing top secret documents to foreign governments. Thanks to the unprecedented letter addressed to Republican members of Congress, Mr. Trump asserted that these additional emails, found on the computer owned by the husband of the closest aid to Secretary Clinton who was under investigation for sexual misconduct, had been “deliberately hidden from the FBI.” I won’t go on with more of his hate-filled rhetoric—but only remark on the effect it had on me. I found myself suddenly paranoid about Hillary Clinton, that’s how effective he was. I’m a passionate Hillary supporter, and if he got me “questioning” I can’t bear to think of what he’s been doing in the last few days, to “people on the fence.” My thinking went from “Why did she destroy 33,000 emails?” to “maybe I should just stay home and not vote.” So I have to assume this reaction is the same of those millions of voters who have been on the edge of deciding to vote for Hillary. This latest assault—coming through Comey—may be a final blow, ending with the “almost ready to vote for Hillary,” deciding to abstain, to avoid the election altogether.  Hillary may win anyway, but she may not, and there is too much at stake to take lightly. The election is already too close for comfort.

A few days later I was again dismayed watching “Meet the Press” when Chuck Todd interviewed Robby Mook—while Mook made some noises against Comey’s rather flagrantly anti-Hillary move in sending out that information-empty letter, he was at the same time passive in tone. As a representative of the Democrats and of Hillary Clinton, he should have been on fire. Turning the other cheek is hardly called for. I think—if for no reason other than Donald Trump’s rhetoric, as we’re all hearing from him about how this is “the biggest scandal” since Watergate, and more of his endless rant about the criminality of Hillary Clinton, it’s time for her surrogates to come out strong everywhere. There has to be a powerful counter-Trump campaign.

This move on the part of Trump-supporting Comey—and he has to be a Trump-supporter or he never ever would have broken with policy to discuss an ongoing investigation, to say nothing of the policy to avoid impacting elections in the last 60 days before voting, has to be countered. The sordid details of Trump’s history need to be revisited. Including his outrageous attitudes about women.

Trump has been indicting Clinton, accusing her of criminal action, “lock her up” “lock her up” and “When I’m President I’m appointing an Attorney General and we will reopen the case of Hillary Clinton, and “justice will be served.” Too many Americans, hearing his accusations, believe him. But why is Trump’s disregard for the law ignored anyway? Every line from a Trump rally might (and should) be turned around; every accusation be thrown back on Trump. 

Is law and order a Trump cry? What about Trump University? He sold it to unsuspecting people using the same words he’s been using to sell himself as President. If we are talking about “crime” and “intention”—have been Donald’s intentions? What about his tax evasion?

The FBT refused to disclose information about the investigation into Russian involvement in American elections. Why not discuss the connection between Putin and the Wikileaks of hacked emails from the Democratic election committee? Since Comey has now involved himself in our presidential election, why not open up public discussion of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump-Putin connection.  Wasn’t there discussion of Trump’s business involvement with Moscow in Trump and Me by Singer?  Apparently Trump has been doing business in Russia for a long time.

Newsweek published an alarming story by Kurt Eichenwald about Trump’s conflict of interest because of his business, and why he couldn’t be in the White House—and how there is no way to disconnect White House Trump from the Trump business, unlike in the case of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. What happened to that story of the inherent conflict of interest; it showed up briefly and disappeared?

What about Trump’s charitable “Trump Foundation? Why have there been few words about the Foundation collecting money for charity in New York State, without appropriate registration What else do we know about the “Foundation?” These are facts, all of these issues are a matter of facts, not suggestions, not speculation, not innuendo coming from a paranoid mind.

And what about his personality? The stark facts about Trump’s personality, most related to a paranoid diagnosis—his inability to work with people, his impossible temper, his lack of self-control, his inability to focus on anything but himself for more than a few seconds, his manner of seeing anyone who isn’t a supporter, as an enemy, his focus on revenge.  Shouldn’t these problems be reviewed?

The American people are smart. Unfortunately, the painful-to-Trump dissecting of his personality took place a few months ago when people were still asleep, or more likely, working their assess off and involved in personal life. Now we have their attention, lets see the media go back to those descriptions, and present them again, only revised with the new sordid details—like the history of his abuse of women. He said it himself in an old interview with Chris Matthews. Chris asked Donald—then a much younger man—why he didn’t consider a run for presidency at some point. Trump responded: “I’m not really into that stuff” (not an exact quote) and then, with a twinkle “besides, I’m too controversial, and then, there’s my whole thing with women.”  It wasn’t quite enough to hear him describe his policy of sexually assaulting women in the now-famous Billy Bush taped Access Hollywood remarks. 

What about the way Trump has used the campaign to line his own pockets? It’s a matter of public record that the Republican Party’s Trump Campaign fund has been paying Donald Trump’s business for—for example, use of space in Trump’s hotels and other buildings for holding press conferences and other campaign-related functions. He brags about taking money from ordinary people, while he’s using it to pay his own business enterprises. Does his base really know that? Someone important should make sure everyone knows it. Now, while attention is high.

I hope Hillary Clinton’s surrogates get out there and remind all of us of the cost of doing business with Donald Trump. Michelle Obama should step forward, every day, and “just talk to us” about Trump. The media will be there, and they’ll cover her, every word. Elizabeth Warren has to show up and do the same. She a master at speaking about Wall Street and business. Now is the time for her to review everything she knows about Trump and his business behavior. How about the “Secretary of Explaining Things,” President Clinton, he should step forward and go at it. And our President, our brilliant orator, it’s time for him to take center stage and go at it, without reservation. How about fast-talking dear Vice-President, he’s compelling and he knows what’s important. Biden will be covered by the media.

Donald Trump is a serious threat to national and international stability. His Presidency might mean an end to democracy. He’s making the whole world paranoid. Comey’s unforgivable action has sent Trump into a state of joyful exuberance. He’s everywhere, and oh so persuasive. Trump’s call to his base to terrorize the polls is being treated far too lightly. Hillary’s surrogates have to go after him and his “Watch the polls” “We don’t want the election to be stolen from us, watch those polls.”

If I were close to the Hillary Clinton election campaign... Right now. I’d be begging them to fight their own paranoia—and there is no way they could have avoided or entirely escaped it; no one who has had any close exposure to Trump’s paranoid personality disorder well delineated by his hateful rhetoric, his toxic personality. But Clinton’s surrogates can fight Trump’s bullying by fighting back, hard and with a commitment that would startle Trump. Clinton herself should go “soft”—that’s what Americans want to see, her most positive message. But her surrogates should take off the “white kid gloves” and lay him out, put him down, bring him down. Trump’s too used to his opposition’s passivity. He’s not expecting a fight; he’ll be startled. Failure to do anything now, well that just might contribute to a failure to win.

We all have to vote. We have to fight for our democracy; it’s seriously threatened.