Friday, July 05, 2019

If Sociopathy, It's Strategic Sociopathy

Social media criticism abounded of Donald Trump's campaignrally, thinly disguised as an Independence Day celebration. Stephen King remarked "Trump’s big military parade? This is what dictators do." True.

Sean Astin noted "One consequence of Trump ordering a 4th of July heavy armor parade in D.C. is that the  controversy will be experienced uncomfortably by many service members." True. Don Cheadle commented "President Trump's Fourth of July Military Parade Is Authoritarian Performance Art." True, also.

And from a famous actor and filmmaker:
False. I'm no psychologist, and I won't play one online, but it's generally understood that sociopaths lack "the ability to stand in someone else's shoes and understand how they feel."

Trump has an extraordinary ability to understand how someone feels- it's how he was elected (well, other than voter suppression, subterfuge by Russians, and an assist from the FBI director). Astin's tweet included" I hope they all remember that they are respected & appreciated by those who oppose the President’s political tactic."

No, they won't. Trump previously has demonstrated utter contempt for the military, as Meghan McCain reminds us. But that didn't stop active members of the military and veterans from voting for him.  The President understands that people like to be noticed and to be flattered.

That's why Donald Trump in May of 2016 posed with a Taco bowl, a patronizing act of cultural appropriation- possibly effective- and said that "I love Hispanics." He now proclaims "I love immigrants," even though his words and actions drip with contempt for both Latinos and immigrants, legal and illegal. And Hispanics rewarded him with a surprisingly high 29% of their vote, albeit 36% less than Clinton. In 2012, Mitt Romney could muster support for mere "self-deportation," a reluctant  and limpish "if you leave, we won't stop you." He received only 27% of their votes to 71% obtained by Barack Obama, a gap of 44%.

Trump had confessed his love for Hispanics. It obviously was empty and insincere, but he recognized them and showed regard for their vote, and the naive are easily flattered.

Similarly, in his Independence Day speech of 2017, the President credited members of the Armed Services with "preserving the legacy of courage and selfless service" and their "selfless sacrifice," as well as maintaining 'we love our Coast Guard."  While the only holidays devoted to service members are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day, on Independence Day 2019 Trump declared "we celebrate our history, our people, and the heroes who proudly defend our flag — the brave men and women of the United States military."

So President Trump understands how people feel and his constant pander to their emotions will pay off. Giving VIP tickets and access to GOP donors, jacking up room rates in Trump International Hotel for the occasion, and even cutting down the National Park Service to pay for the extravaganza are additional benefits reminding us that he knows how to wield power for his personal interests and that if he is a sociopath, more politicians would like a little of that disorder.

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