Photo: The author answering the red phone in the Oval Office in an alternate non-trumpocalyptic reality.
Denial and bargaining have turned to resignation and acceptance that the next person that will be picking up the red phone in the Oval Office will not be me (I suspended my campaign a while back), and it won’t be my safety back up choice, Bernie Sanders. The next president will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and that means that it is quite likely that it will be Donald Trump and that we are hurtling toward trumpocalypse.
Michael Moore just published an article entitled 5 Reasons Why Donald Trump Will Win
As H.L. Mencken said, “No one ever went broke overestimating the crassness of the American people.” And Trump is the king of crass, and his middle school/high school world view resonates with so many whose intellect finished developing in the 9th grade, where they learned to size people up with put downs and who’s hot/who’s not winners/ losers tags. I taught high school for fourteen years, and have studied American popular culture for far longer, and have come to the realization that few Americans ever recover from high school. What I call “the hollow folk” (see Zap Oracle card # 62, Beware the Hollow Folk) are largely people whose “minds,” sexuality and general attitudes were formed in high school (or middle school) and who spend the rest of their lives as ungracefully aging adolescents still longing for the high school image of success. To hollow folk, Trump seems like a successful genius. He speaks on a middle-school level (and this has actually been confirmed by linguists). He makes dumb people feel like they’re shmart, like he’s shmart, and fuck all those book-reading experts who think they know more than the real Americans, (see my article Real People Suck, an Imaginary Person’s Manifesto ) the proud dumbasses who are pissed off that robots and Mexicans can outperform them, and who cling to their guns, fundamentalist religion, opiates, scapegoats and heavily processed food.
Some will push back on this and say:
“You don’t get it. There’s real, legitimate anger out there, and Trump is channeling the anger of people who rightly feel the system is rigged against them.”
Yes, there is a legitimate rebellion from elite globalist types who have concentrated the planet’s wealth. But remind me again of which times and places of human history wealth and power were not concentrated in an elite? Scandinavian countries of the present era (to some extent)? Israeli Kibbutz of the 1960s? What do you think Karl Marx was writing about in the 19th Century? A thriving middle class and the heightened expectations of the American dream are more exception than rule. Elites concentrating an unfair share of wealth is the norm, though the degree of concentration fluctuates and is worse in this country than it was forty years ago. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something about it, we should, but many people have an historical context that gets extremely foggy about what life was like before the birth of Facebook.
What is also not new is a perception that life is tough, and anger that there’s something wrong about this world and its rigged systems. As the movie The Matrix (which came out in 1999, during the financial prosperity of Clinton’s second term) put it, “…there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” The Matrix was largely inspired by two-millennia-old gnostic texts that say we are living in a fallen world of illusions created by the “masters of deception,” the Archons, a parasitic species manipulating us to create a harvest of dark emotions.
My point is that people have always been angry at the rigged systems of the world. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet put it, “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.” A sense of wrongness about the whole reality is one of the most universal feelings of all time. I wrote about this in a brief essay, A Splinter in your Mind. Religions were largely created to address the dark feelings people have about this reality. Sometime in that foggy pre-Facebook era, a few years before pissed off Americans began to notice that they lived in a rigged system that defeated their dreams, there were old sayings like “The poor get poorer, and the rich get richer.” Perhaps Jesus, speaking in parables, had the rigged system in mind when he said:
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
(KJV, Matthew 13:12)
At 58, at the verge of becoming an old white guy myself, I can tell you that I don’t recall a single year I’ve lived through when there wasn’t a chorus of old white guys (and plenty of folks in other demographics such as conspiracy-addled millennials) singing the oldest golden oldie of them all: The-World-is-Going-to-Hell-in-a-Handbasket song.
“Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.” —Assyrian Clay Tablet, 2800 BC
I’m getting tired of people saying that Donald Trump is this completely unprecedented phenomenon that nothing in the past prepares us to understand. Just because he tweets, doesn’t make him new. He’s just another cranky old egoist singing the oldest fucking song in the world— The-World-is-Going-to-Hell-in-a-Handbasket song. His midnight-in-America-fear-mongering convention speech is the same golden oldie that every populist demagogue since the late Paleolithic has been cranking out.
So yeah, I get it, Donald Trump is channeling real anger out there. There’s always real fear and anger out there and there has always been the very serious hazard of inflated psychic scarecrows channeling that fear and anger. It doesn’t matter if the social media platform is Twitter, a town square or a high school locker room, there have been narcissistic bullies channeling people’s fear and anger since time immemorial and the only thing new about Donald Trump is his pioneering advancement of comb-over technology.
People have always chosen one angry guy or another to personify their collective shadow. When people would ask Carl Jung how Hitler was able to manipulate the German psyche, he replied, “Hitler didn’t manipulate the German psyche, he was the German psyche.” Donald Trump is a perfect personification of the shadow part of the American psyche. So was W. So is every popular demagogue.
Dumbasses who can’t own their own shadows, and who don’t have the historical context to realize that the world has always seemed wrong, have always fallen in love with hollow strongman types who personify their own inner weakness. (See my earlier Reality Sandwich article Trump’s Amazing Freudian Slip) In a Meet the Press interview on November 29th of 2015, Trump accidently says, “I’m weak.”
Trumpology—A Master Class —Is the most thorough article I’ve read on what animates a psychic scarecrow like Donald Trump. It’s too bad that the power psychology of Alfred Adler (whose name was once nearly as prominent as Freud and Jung) has been largely forgotten. It was Adler who coined the terms, “superiority complex” and “inferiority complex.” Adler wrote:
“We should not be astonished if in the cases where we see an inferiority [feeling] complex we find a superiority complex more or less hidden. On the other hand, if we inquire into a superiority complex and study its continuity, we can always find a more or less hidden inferiority [feeling] complex.”
“If a person is a show-off, it is only because she or he feels inferior because she or he does not feel strong enough to compete with others on the useful side of life. That is why she or he stays on the useless side… It seems to be a trait of human nature that when individuals – both children and adults – feel weak, they want to solve the problems of life in such a way as to obtain personal superiority without any admixture of social interest.”
“The superiority complex is one of the ways that a person with an inferiority complex may use as a method of escape from her or his difficulties. She or he assumes that she or he is superior when she or he is not, and this false success compensates her or him for the state of inferiority which she or he cannot bear.” (see the Wikipedia article, Superiority Complex )
In a classically Adlerian way, Trump’s need to constantly assert himself as the winner comes from a desperate inner recognition of weakness as his amazing Freudian slip (also really an Adlerian slip) reveals.
The demographic he appeals to is the same non-college-educated white demographic that has had a shocking increase in early mortality (see: A Shocking Rise in White Death Rates Mid-life ) In other words, he appeals to demographics that are losing power, to people who have reason to fear that they are weak, and who want to overcompensate by acting like bullies and trumped-up wanna-be winners.
I’m not comparing the two in the sense of an equivalency, Hitler and Nazi comparisons are almost all nonsense, but psychic scarecrows—Jung’s description of Hitler after meeting him—have something in common. They can become surrogates for little psychic scarecrows, what I call the “hollow folk,” and Jung called “mass man.” Psychic scarecrows like Trump are a focal point for those who feel this sense of grievance and who want to compensate for feelings of weakness by smoking the crack of trumped up egoism with chasers of sugar rush narcissism to get this quickly fading surge of rage and self-importance where they get to feel that they can transform weakness into being a winner/bully.
So, to summarize, I’m an angry, older white guy who is angry at people who think that people getting duped by angry old white guys is anything new. When James Joyce wrote, “History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken,” he was talking about the nightmarish parade of Donald Trumps for the last six millennia. When William Butler Yeats wrote his apocalyptic poem Second Coming in 1919, and talked about a time when:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
He was talking about Donald Trump time, a time that began over six thousand years ago— in other words, the patriarchal era. Here’s how Yeats described Donald Trump in 1919:
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
So, Donald Trump is not the first rough beast with slow thighs to come slouching down the skull-shadowed corridors of history. Trumpocalypses are nothing new, but what’s also not new is that it sucks to live through Trumpocalypses.
And the way to prevent the Trumpocalypse slouching toward us right now is to suck it up and vote for Hillary Clinton. She’s not Bernie Sanders, not Elizabeth Warren, and voting for her might feel like drinking a Big Gulp of aspartame-sweetened diet Dr. Pepper when you prefer rose-petal-goji-berry-infused kombucha, but the bottom line reality is that Hillary is significantly less likely to trigger a Trumpocalypse than Donald Trump. Bill Maher quoted someone who said, “You know, I disagree with Hillary about almost everything, but she’s within the normal range for being wrong.”
I know some very intelligent people who want to see Trump win because they recognize him as a trickster/wildcard and want to see the system shaken up. I grew up in the Bronx during the time when the system fell apart and the sky glowed orange at night from burning apartment buildings. Don’t get me wrong, I like post-apocalyptic hellscapes as much as the next guy, and it’s hard to find a high budget sci-film that doesn’t have them, but I learned from my early Bronx years that they are actually not that much fun to live through. I don’t much want to live in a status-quo house where a scolding, bossy mom wears the pant suits, but I’ll take that over living in Mordor or in the dungeon of a looming Trump Tower crowned with a comb-over of orange flames.
Sixteen years ago I pleaded with my friends who were too pure to vote for Al Gore. “Republicrats! Republicrats! There’s no difference!” they told me. They voted for Ralph Nader or not at all and we got W, the war with Iraq and financial meltdown.
Just as I was about to finish this article, a scary synchronicity came in the form of a CNN Breaking News Alert:
A large hot-air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught fire in flight Saturday morning and crashed in Lockhart, Texas, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
There were no survivors, the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement to CNN affiliate TWC News Austin.
Another hot-air balloon wants to carry away three hundred million people including you and most of your friends and family. Will you let it?
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.
All that is necessary for the triumph of trumpocalyptic evil is for good people not to vote for Hillary Clinton.
See my sequel to this article: Demonizing of High-Profile Democrats—a Same-Old, Same-Old Shadow Projection