Infected by Trump Derangement Syndrome

If only we would all just get off his back and let him govern, we are told. The poor man is besieged on every side, the jackals of the press circling and sniping, relentless in their bare-teethed aggression. Behind them, 68 million aggrieved and unyielding Clinton voters, unwilling to accept the verdict of the electoral college, criticizing his every breath and utterance.

Unfair and unprecedented, we are told, the president himself shaping the narrative of his terrible victimization.

Poor fellow! Why won’t we just give him a chance?

Well!

I wish I could. But I’m a victim myself, suffering the ravages of an awful disease.

I’m Andrew, and I have Trump Derangement Syndrome.

***

It’s hardly just liberals who have despaired of Trump ever being other than an undisciplined, unprincipled, chaos-inducing managerial incompetent with no moral restraint on doing whatever he deems necessary to ‘win’ at the game of running a nation as if it were just the latest installment of a reality show in which he is the one and only star.

As of this moment, despite millions of activist researchers and street marchers working feverishly to stem the epidemic, there is no cure on the near horizon.

So unfair!

My symptoms include sleeplessness, periodic depression, a first-ever obsession with cable news, and the tiny hairs on my wrists snapping to attention every time my phone lights up in that way it started to do sometime last year with little snippets that usually included the words “Russia” and “Trump Administration” in them.

My night-time sweats include fear of a ruined environment, a ruined economy, a ruined health care system, a ruined world order, fear of the end of the world itself.

Fear that my daughter, first-time voter that she was in November, will think all the brouhaha of this most extraordinary time, with our nation headed by a sexually-abusing, unreflective, narcissistic, quarrelsome and superficial con man, is just the normal adult world, going about its business of ruining her future.

It’s not, is it?

***

Here are a few of the encounters which I believe exposed me early on to the aforementioned virus.

• Seeing John McCain ridiculed for being “caught” and tortured for five years by the North Vietnamese. (How do Trump backers, most of whom I’m pretty certain voted for McCain in 2008, explain this to themselves?)

• Watching the future president aping spastic movements of physically disabled people from the podium while describing an encounter with a reporter whose arm is withered by a congenital joint condition. (What kind of man does this?)

• Revelations that he had declared multiple bankruptcies, stiffing creditors that included working people such as carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who had worked on good-faith contracts now rendered worthless while Trump continued his jet-setting, luxury lifestyle. (What kind of man…)

• Calling his Republican primary opponents names during debates: “Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” and suggesting the only female candidate is ugly in exclaiming, “Look at that face!” (What kind…)

• Unequivocally suggesting in the middle of a debate, in front of a live studio audience and some 17 million television viewers, that he has a large penis.  (What….)

By this time, in early March 2016, I was suffering some low-grade fever, middle-of-night awakenings, and general malaise in the mornings, when I have historically been at my best and most active.

And we weren’t even out of the primaries yet.

***

Women’s March on Washington, 2017

Bad as it all seemed as Trump wound up confounding all his disbelieving critics (myself included) who couldn’t fathom the possibility of his capturing the nomination, much less the general election, I nevertheless expected him to be a business-oriented, pragmatic president. Sure, he would be hobbled by his all-too-obvious character defects, and we would have to endure various bits of him kow-towing to the far-right, ideologically driven voters who had helped secure his victory.

But I figured he would resort, in the end, to the deal-making instincts that had turned him into a player in the world of New York real estate and a dilettante playboy on its social circuit, who used to espouse polar opposite views to what he was mouthing on the campaign trail. A compromiser, so he could sew up deals and then go brag about them in that inimitable way that no politician, ever, would have dared.

Boy, was I wrong. (Yet again!)

By the time of his inaugural address (“American carnage”?), my symptoms had escalated—the fevered eye-coverings with the morning news spiking into the danger zone, the “Did you see?” and “Can you believe?” rantings to friends making me feel like Bill Murray on steroids rubbing my eyes through yet another Ground Hog Day.

Even George W. Bush (didn’t conservatives love him right to the end?), otherwise purring away at his Dallas home painting genteel portraits of soldiers, was heard to say upon arising from his seat on the Capitol steps after Trump’s dystopian screed: “That was some weird shit.” (Arch-Republican, classic conservative, he didn’t even vote for Trump, though he couldn’t bring himself to vote for Clinton, as his father, another classic conservative ex-president, did.)

And all this was before the cabinet appointments started in earnest.

***

Then Trump gave us a know-nothing, done-nothing public education hater to head the education department.

An environmental regulation hater to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

An alt-right bomb-thrower whose chief desire is to “dismantle the administrative state” and apparently get us back to some unregulated state of nature, as his chief strategist.

A brainless brain surgeon who admitted he didn’t know enough about housing or running a federal agency to take a cabinet position, who apparently got smart and experienced in a hurry when he decided to accept the housing secretary job after all. His recently stated view of poverty? “It’s a state of mind.

All of these, and so much more that simply wearies me too much to catalog here, has affected me to such a degree that I fear the virus is now deep in my marrow and metastasizing to all my body parts. Even my aura shows deep blue welts.

I feel a little bit sick every day and a lot sick on some days, as when Trump throws out yet another Saturday morning Twitter bomb in accusing his predecessor of criminal activity in tapping his phones.

In this, he offered not a shred of substantiation or proof, just another wild spur-of-the-moment impulse and imagined grievance that earned firm debunkings from the country’s intelligence agencies and loud condemnation from even the most conservative media sources who persist in backing him just as long as they can until it proves, as in this instance, impossible. (What kind of man…)

***

Portrait in dignity: the Lincoln Memorial at night

So: “Just give him a chance,” we hear. It’s unfair and unseemly for liberals to be criticizing Trump at every turn.

But that claim belies an inconvenient fact: It’s hardly just liberals who have despaired of Trump ever being other than an undisciplined, unprincipled, chaos-inducing managerial incompetent with no moral restraint on doing whatever he deems necessary to ‘win” at the game of running a nation as if it were just the latest installment of a reality show in which he is the one and only star.

I offer a short list below—it could be much longer—of highly conservative, died-in-the-wool small government types who are every bit as frightened and appalled by Trump as liberals are. They are besides the aforementioned Bush family, and John Kasich, Colin Powell, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, and even Paul Ryan, before he decided to become Trump’s lapdog in an act of perceived career preservation. (We’ll see how that turns out for him.)

These writers and thinkers have impeccable conservative credentials, listed here in approximately least-to-most-conservative order (by solely my estimation). All have written scaldingly of Trump and bemoan the idea that he is their president. Just like liberals! I have provided links to representative columns by each.

They, along with countless others that space does not permit me to mention, give the lie to claims that Trump Derangement Syndrome represents only a crazed liberal plot to invalidate the results of a duly contested election.

Like so many of the claims Trump himself has made and his backers parrot without looking reality boldly in the face: It just ain’t so.

David Brooks: “When the World Is Led by a Child”

George Will: “Trump Has a Dangerous Disability”

William Kristol: “Our Trump Problem”

Peggy Noonan: “In Trump’s Washington, Nothing Feels Stable”

Charles Krauthammer: “Trump: ‘Normalized’ But Still Scary”

***

The late Phil Ochs “wasn’t marching anymore”—to war. He’d be marching now, though, in opposition to the madness that abides in Washington.

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Twitter: @AndrewHidas

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Deep appreciation to the photographers!

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: larry@rosefoto.com   

Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

March on Washington photo, public domain, photographer unknown

Lincoln Memorial photo by Holly Ladd, Newton, Massachusetts, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hollyladd/

23 comments to Infected by Trump Derangement Syndrome

  • Loren Webster  says:

    Don’t you have any bird pictures to share?

    I’ve quit watching the news. Do I have to quit reading blogs, too?

    This, too, shall pass, though probably not quickly enough for any of us.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      But Loren, I can’t help myself—I’m deranged!

      On a more serious note, I’m also confident this too shall pass—the problem is how much damage Trump & Co. can manage to do in the meantime. And I’m convinced he’d have done a lot more already if we all would have quit watching the news and the media had no one paying attention while they unearthed scoop after dismaying scoop about the shenanigans going on with this administration. Some balance with birds and hiking and poetry is important, to be sure, but we ignore the political at our peril, I think.

      Besides which, my iPhone almost never gets close enough for decent bird pictures. I need one of your zooms!

  • Amy  says:

    Thank you Andrew. Me too.
    This comes to mind – from a poem by Shane Koyczan, called Whatever Mountain…”the heaviest thing you will ever have to lift are our own spirits”.
    The full poem can be read here: http://www.shanekoyczan.com/store/potm20-whatever-mountain/. Good medicine. Also,-your post on paddling. Loved that a lot. Let’s keep paddling.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks, Amy, appreciated the poem, not so much as poetry but as prose with a good message. Glad you liked the paddling piece; sometimes it feels like paddling should be literally out there on the water under the open sky, other times paddling means mucking through the political trenches. This was one of the latter!

  • Gerry Ausiello  says:

    Andrew, I am afraid that the only remedy for your condition is akin to the drug commercials we see on the telly: they offer the drug, and then tell you all the potential dire effects that it may cause. Trump can only legally be removed prior to 2020 by his resignation or impeachment or the 25th amendment proceedings, and we would then be left with Pence and/or perhaps Paul Ryan – egads!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Gerry, I’ve come to think we may be better off with an ineffective and flailing Trump that we would be with a smoother, more stable Pence and the Congress behind him. The risk-on part is that Trump would more easily get us into a nuclear war or something almost as bad. Serious conundrum, I think…

    • Gerry Ausiello  says:

      Perhaps his erratic nature will keep the other erratic leaders at bay-let us hope!

  • Rev. Robert Gutleben  says:

    Clearly, Andrew, you’re talking about an epidemic that has made a nation of rational, sane, and honest people sick to death of our sham president. Just as scary are the carriers of this political disease. They’re the one’s who can’t see their own sickness, anymore than a hillbilly can see his own ignorance. But perhaps some of the sickest, are those who, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who confessed his awareness of Trumps flaws, but now has become a toady in order to maintain political support from him. I have some hope as long as my political peers hold their position that Trump is bat shit crazy. But when and if the day should come that the majority of American’s begin to think that people like Trump are good guys and good for America I will know it’s time to begin a migration to another country.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Robert, of all the spear carriers in the Trump Cavalry, I think Ryan may be the most unforgivable. He’s a professed ardent Catholic and an Ayn Rand admirer, and those two go together like chocolate chip cookies and vinegar. He’s the one who needs to have a long, LONG sit-down with Pope Francis…

      • mark davis  says:

        Perhaps a contest for the worst offenders should be proposed. Yes, Ryan, quite near the top and yet there are so many freaking Catholics on this train, stunning. I believe Justice Gorsuch is the first Protestant on the Court. Guess we really don’t count anymore.

        • Andrew Hidas  says:

          It’s a mighty race between Ryan and McConnell, I think. But McConnell doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he’s the anti-Christ, :-) while Ryan continues with his impersonation of a Catholic altar boy (who tucks Ayn Rand novels under his garments), so I think maybe Ryan takes it by a nose. And at least your tradition is making progress on the court. When’s the last time a Unitarian hung his or her robes there?

  • Fred G  says:

    Andrew, I am actually getting hopeful that the Republican values and integrity are on full display with Trump at the helm (i.e., greed, racism, sexism, dishonesty, hypocrisy, and lack of concern for anyone but themselves) and that it is galvanizing the more enlightened of the species in opposition. Trump may be the best thing that happened to progressive causes in the long run. Also, I love the Phil Ochs piece. I grew up 2 doors down from Phil outside Cleveland. Hope you are well, my friend.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      I hope you’re right, Fred, and that progressives organize—and keep at it—with all the tenacity the ultra-conservatives showed in doing their best to bring the Clintons and Obama down. It’s a long slog, though! Good to hear from you. And I’ll be tracking you down soon to talk about Phil Ochs—it occurred to me today it would be fun to delve into his work and life at greater length.

  • David Moriahvery real  says:

    I’ve reconciled myself to the very real possibility that we’re doomed – this vile, mean-spirited man has normalized the kind of thuggish behavior we saw in the Montana special election earlier this week, and the GOP, unmoored from any sense of principle or concern for the nation above party has run the table on all three branches of government and is moving quickly to consolidate their power for generations to come. Why did we assume that a free, democratic society is our birthright and would not someday end at the hands of a madman and an all too ignorant and gullible electorate? I fear we’ve reached the tipping point, and I may end my days in a one-party state with ever-shrinking rights and liberties as a dark cloud overwhelms America. But I will not go quietly into the night. I will fight, organize, protest. I will gather my friends and neighbors to resist this American tragedy. I may end up closing out my life in Costa Rica or New Zealand, but for now, I am an American patriot and I will resist this evil with every fiber of my being. RESIST TOGETHER JOYFULLY!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      David, I need to connect you with Fred G. up above—he sounds a tad more hopeful than you, although I am impressed with your fighting spirit! I’m inclined to loop back to Loren’s comment here as well—that this too shall pass, long as the pillars of citizen involvement, the media and the courts hold fast. Things could look very different in 2020 in terms of who’s in power, though I’m not so sure about the powerful divisions in our country and what seems like the diminishment of civility and a common story. Trump’s contribution to the radical coarsening of our culture cannot be minimized.

  • Jay Helman  says:

    I too held out hope that the pragmatic, deal-making Trump would emerge over time in the White House. I have now long-since abandoned that hope and now only find some hope in Russia investigations, the stupidity of Jared, Flynn, et al, as a route to ending this nightmare. My sweats return, however, whenever I see or hear Ryan or McConnell. Trump, in my mind, is clearly a deranged individual baby-man who somehow ended up President. His dysfunction is plain for all to see. I am certain that Ryan and McConnell see it too. Yet their self-interest and uber-partisanship take them down the road of spinelessness and cowardice, with a huge price to the country. I am struck by David’s comment regarding the possible end to a free democratic society. I believe, Andrew, I posed this question to you in a conversation shortly after Trump’s election. Historically, no type of government has been immune to downfall. We just have never had reason, until now, to consider it happening to us. On the other hand, the “this too shall pass” has merit, and provides hope. At this juncture my hope is that Mueller and his investigation will sicken and drive into action even Ryan and McConnell. Jared has now brought it very close to home for POTUS. Breathe deeply and hang in there. We must all stand ready to reclaim our republic.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Jay, it seems like such an outrageous thing to think of the U.S. as slipping into some kind of anti-democratic or “ademocratic” condition. It’s the kind of stuff propagated by nutcases—the counterpart of which we heard from extremist Obama haters the past eight years. And yet…

      Empires come and empires go, and nothing, not even our often overly self-congratulatory American story, lasts forever, least of all without ardent attentiveness and defense on its behalf.

      Here’s what I do know: human beings are far more emotional than rational, and in a significant part of us, we harbor a deep need for and attraction to the soothing answers and assertiveness of a strongman. I have zero doubt that if Trump could get away with it, he would be jailing journalists even now for publishing leaked information, and then threatening the publishers with closure or huge fines. If there were an executive order with which he could accomplish this with protests coming only from the media and a dwindling number of those who would come to their defense, he would do it tomorrow. And I suspect a clear majority of current Trump backers would cheer and say the media had it coming.

      Right now, we’re still under the rule of law and a robust media and court system, and let us thank the Founders and the gods for them! But it could all change, and quickly. A few terrorist successes, the detonation of a dirty nuke, any number of triggers could ignite sufficient anger and fear for a good part of the population to willingly submit to fascism. Security trumps civil liberties when people fear for their survival, so fascism cloaked in “emergency measures” is not that far-fetched, really. It’s been going on all over the world for a very long time. Trump is simply the closest we’ve ever come to hearing its voice and realizing its potential. That’s why in my book he’s long since past earning anything like being given “a chance.” As you say, his character and predilections are at this point no secret and “plain for all to see.” Eternal vigilance is what is required of us, and I’m encouraged by the tenacity I see. In that sense, Trump has been a true galvanizing force, a huge wakeup call to any tendency we might have had to slumber through the next four or eight years.

  • Moon Malin  says:

    I am in full agreement with my high school teammates. The type of democracy we have prevents us from immediately removing such an obvious mistake, but I am hoping that the RESIST and Indivisible forces can generate enough counter to the orange menace. Andy, keep blogging with the insight you have in the past…you speak for many who cannot express it as elegantly as you.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks, Moon, I will take that to heart. Appreciate you piping up whenever you see fit.

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Andy, it’s nice to discover that someone other than me quotes Phil Ochs from time to time. His song “Changes”, rich in melody and laden with some of the finest lyrics in folk music, is my favorite. Unfortunately, I can’t find any videos of him performing it. However, Neil Young does it justice in the 2013 Farm Aid concert which can be viewed on You Tube.

    On Trump…almost everything you wrote I agree with. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever read anyone summarize his Presidency thus far so well. While this “Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.” is frightening. politically speaking, there remains HOPE. Sometimes we live so much in the present, bombarded daily by cable news with his twits, gaffes, and juvenile narcissism, that we forget that merely four years ago Reince Priebus, then head of the RNC, wrote an autopsy on the GOP’s chances of winning another Presidential election. Keeping that in mind, things may not be as bleak as they seem. After all, Hillary received 450,000 more votes than Obama did in 2012. Presidential elections have always been cyclical in nature anyway. Imagine being a Democrat between 1860 and 1920. Only two Democrats, Cleveland and Wilson, made it to the White House. Then from 1932 until today. Democrats have won two more elections than Republicans.

    Those that have known Trump for many years claim that this monosyllabic Commander-in Chief desires more than anything else undiluted adulation, which up to this point has eluded him. Cries of disgust have muted the voices of his base. Many have called the first 100+ days of his Presidency, the worst ever. I wouldn’t go that far. Lincoln had it tough, and William Henry Harrison died. So,, don’t get too down. If one man, no matter how incompetent, can destroy the democracy of the most powerful nation in the world, perhaps America, that Shining City on the Hill, is more tarnished than anyone wants to admit.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Yep, Robert, the Great American Experiment has been trundling along for some 240 years now, and we have seen worse days, to be sure. Am reading a memoir at the moment from an Irish writer who lived a long time in England, and she richly sketches the rather amazing cultural and intellectual history of that country, which, for all its grievous faults, colonialism no doubt topping the list, has done so much to advance the cause of civilization. I look at the U.S. in something of the same way—so rich with promise and accomplishment in its short history, but the self-inflicted wounds of our original sin of slavery and Native American genocide still festering, still shadowing our better impulses, still unresolved.

      But I wrote a few posts ago on “The Moral Imperative of Hope,” and nothing of Trumpism or any other ism will knock me off that basic faith stance, without which I’m not sure I could get up in the morning and face myself, much less the larger world beyond. Thanks so much for contributing your wise counsel here. I would urge you not to be a stranger—more Phil Ochs is coming!

  • Kevin Feldman  says:

    Appreciate the lively dialogue – can most certainly relate to all of the comments as I’ve struggled to reconcile my life in Trumpian times… doing the dishes on this Memorial day I had the good fortune to tune in to Michael Krasny’s FORUM program on KQED where co-author Doug Abrams was talking about his book on dialogues between the Dali Lama & Desmond Tutu (celebrating the DL’s 80th birthday), The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World https://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2017/05/28/dalai-lama-and-desmond-tutu-offer-advice-in-the-book-of-joy-2/ – these remarkable men have most certainly lived through dark times (apartheid South Africa, China’s occupation of Tibet, etc), coming from very diverse spiritual perspectives while arriving at very similar conclusions… my take in terms of implications for this conversation, is the idea of choosing Joyful Resistance to the never ending outrages of Trump et al. – just last night our little town of Healdsburg sponsored a fund raiser for the revival of the ACLU Northern Calif chapter, music from roots rockers The Cahoots, Congressman Jared Huffman not only attended but sat in on guitar/vocals as the overflow crowd joined in a spirited community sing-a-long of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land… I left the gathering inspired… While it is impossible to tell how much irreversible damage will be done by Trump & his Republican surrogates, choosing Joyful Resistance while trusting in the long term core goodness of the vast majority of our fellow citizens seems like a treatment for Trump Derangement Syndrome!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Sorry I missed that show, Kevin; will have to catch it on the back side! (And thank the Internet for that, even on this Memorial Day with only sporadic, whenever-it-feels-like-it service after I waited 3 hours in the morning for the service tech, only to be told, after he messed around for a while, it would be “sometime in the next four hours” that his colleague the pole-climber would be calling on me again, so meanwhile, I had better sit tight…)

      In any case—yes, I think joy, playfulness and humor are every bit as important as marching and organizing in dealing with a politics gone awry and a nation riven and adrift. There are few things more dispiriting nor more ineffective than unremitting anger and rage. (Just look how sour McConnell is after raging for eight years at Obama, and Harry Reid for eight years at McConnell…) It seems an easy slide from anger to intractable ideology and fanaticism. There but for the grace of a good laugh go we…

      I also think it’s important to keep showing up in some kind of dialogue, strained and narrow-channeled as it often can be, with the opposition. You find yourself agreeing on very little if anything, but the goal isn’t agreement, it’s understanding, and the opportunity to volley and later chew on perspectives other than your own while you’re doing the dishes or pulling weeds. And dialogue—not yelling and sneering, but actual dialogue—makes it much more difficult to demonize the other and make them less than human. (Though I admit the jury is still out on whether Paul Ryan retains any known human qualities.) :-)
      Thanks for this, always a pleasure reading your take!

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