Thursday, July 12, 2018

Derangement Syndrome

If you are one of my many friends on Facebook, you may already have seen all or part of what follows ... feel free to stop reading and come back another day. Otherwise, feel free to read on and to leave civil and thoughtful comments. I will summarily delete any comments that involve name-calling or fail to clearly and cogently address the issues raised here.

A while back, I engaged in a long-running online debate with one of my old co-workers, a person whose opinions I respect although we fundamentally disagree on many political issues. At one point early on in the discussion, he admonished me for exhibiting "TDS" ... "Trump Derangement Syndrome."

Derangement Syndrome is not a new thing in American political life. I first heard the term used during the administration of the second President Bush, when Republicans and conservatives accused Democrats and liberals of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" - an inflexible opposition to everything said or done by George W. Bush. Derangement Syndrome returned in its mirror image a few years later when it morphed into "Obama Derangement Syndrome," an inflexible opposition to everything said or done by Barack Obama ... including the absolute conviction (against all evidence) that Mr Obama was not born in the United States and was thus ineligible even to be president. Obama Derangement Syndrome was particularly virulent because it was laid over an ugly layer of racism that bubbled beneath the more or less calm surface of American life.

And now, of course, comes the third mutation of the condition - "Trump Derangement Syndrome," an inflexible opposition to everything said or done by Donald Trump*.

Disclaimer: I frankly admit that I despise Donald Trump. I didn't like Hillary Clinton either, but Trump to me represents the worst in American politics - a man without scruples, with no knowledge or understanding of significant issues of domestic or foreign policy or international economics; a man utterly unfamiliar with and dismissive of Constitutional norms; a shameless liar even when lying was unnecessary and who, when his lies are exposed, simply doubles down on them; a man willing to hurl juvenile insults at opponents; a man who blithely alienates our closest allies and cozies up to the worst dictators; and a man willing to utter the worst sort of banana republic-style threats of violence and legal action against his opponents.

If being horrified by this constitutes TDS, then I guess I'm guilty as charged. But despite my friend's urging to respect the office of the presidency if not the incumbent, I cannot accept the debasement of the office once held by George Washington, one of the most civil and thoughtful of men, by a man who completely lacks the common decency, civility, and gravitas required by the nation's highest office ... once the most powerful position in the world. I cannot support or admire a man who does not accept that he is the president of all Americans, with a responsibility to unite the country (difficult though the job may be) ... not just to pander to those who wear red hats and cheer his every word at his endless ego-trip rallies.

One can make the specious argument that Trump supporters felt the same way about life under President Obama, but then, Obama did not blatantly lie at every turn, constantly ridicule his opponents, declare the press to be the enemy of the people, call for his electoral opponent to be jailed, insult and ignore the warnings of his own intelligence community, and deliberately insult our closest allies while embracing autocrats who represent the opposite of traditional America values.

My friend says that he doesn't like everything Trump says, but he likes what he does, and he urges me to recognize the positive things Trump has accomplished, but I don't see any. As far as I can see, the much-ballyhooed tax has resulted in my taxes going up. Our traditional alliances are in tatters. North Korea, having vaguely sort of halfway maybe promised to stop its nuclear program, has been caught secretly upgrading its facilities and has blithely insulted Secretary of State Pompeo with the accusation that the United States is engaging in "gangster politics" ... a turn of events anyone with any knowledge of previous negotiations with North Korea could have foreseen. We have unnecessarily antagonized the rest of the world and gotten ourselves into a trade war that others will be happy to help us lose. While we desperately need a complete revision and update of our immigration policy, we have squandered our moral high ground by engaging in horrifying acts of brutality unworthy of a great nation. I am probably the only person who has actually put forward a potentially-workable plan for immigration reform ... but nobody's interested.

If opposing - on firm and defensible grounds - the sort of man we've placed in office constitutes derangement, then I'm deranged. But I'd rather be considered deranged by some than sit back and watch the country I love go down the drain. There is no ... no excuse for the sort of behavior demonstrated by Donald Trump and his cronies and enablers**. Someday ... sooner rather than later, I hope ... we will realize what we've done and right the ship.

But I'm afraid its already too late.

Have a good day. Demand better of your government, even if there's little hope of getting it.

More thoughts coming.


* There's also a Hillary Derangement Syndrome which is every bit as virulent as Trump Derangement Syndrome, but it doesn't really count in this discussion because she was not elected (according to law and the Constitution, if not the popular vote) and has no measurable influence in government any more.

** Yes, I know that I will be excoriated by those suffering from whataboutitis, angry because I have not equally castigated Those Damn Democrats who, everybody knows, started the whole thing. Maxine Waters is as big an idiot as Donald Trump, but is not in a position to cause as much lasting damage to the nation as Trump is. 


John Hill said...

Well said, my deranged friend!
I stand with you in the department of the deranged.

Grand Crapaud said...

I am disheartened at the way things have been going lately. Are we being governed by apes?

Dave Peterson said...

^^^ ...what John said. That makes three of us, I guess. :-)

Mike said...

And four of us.

allenwoodhaven said...

And five. Very well said, asterisks included.