Sunday, June 18, 2023

Merely a Posture of Madness

It's a notion that will not die  A few months ago on one of his regular appearances on Morning Joe, Donnie Deutch ended a righteous rant by asserting "we know Trump is insane. We know he has lost his mind, we know he's just continually, continually shriveling away.

"Crazy" and "insane" are not diagnoses to be tossed around lightly. And in the case of Donald Trump, we have no hard evidence he is either of these things. Even now that he has been indicted, he may be a) acquitted; by jury; b) beneficiary of dismissal of his indictment by a relatively, young Federalist Society judge who has already proven her fondness for the defendant and probably wouldn't mind becoming a Supreme Court appointee if he is elected; d) convicted and placed onto electronic monitoring, possibly at Mar-a-Lago; e) convicted and placed on probation; f) convicted and pardoned by the next President.

Or Mr. Trump could be convicted and incarcerated in a federal prison, which would displease the Secret Service. And if an agency with major evidence about an attempted coup can wipe its employees' phones clean and face no repercussions, it is not an organization anyone wants to toy with.

So Trump's chances of not dying in prison, as he should, are pretty good. And if there is any indication that he does not believe that monetizing the presidency and, probably the post-presidency with stolen documents, is not worth the slight risk of becoming some thug's boyfriend in the federal pen, we haven't seen it. Sounds rather rational to me.

What he does have is an exaggerated sense of self, which is not uncommon and is understandable given the hundreds of millions of dollars he has made over the decades exploiting other people and the nation. And when that individual has been elected and served a stint as President of the USA, there is additional reason he may come to believe that he can walk on water- especially when it has served himself especially well politically.

But if Deutsch- as so many others- has had it wrong, Jumbo Elliot (yes, that Jumbo Elliot) has it right:

In a concept foreign to many liberals and a few progressives, Donald J. Trump is a bad guy. Whether he is a "bad seed," corrupted by nature, or instead is egomaniacal, malignant, and narcissistic by nurture, Donald J. Trump is a bad (likely even evil) man.  Usually, as probably the case with Trump, it is not by nature but by a combination of upbringing, environment, and- yes- choice.

And when someone is particularly malignant, one chooses to position oneself  in the exact opposite manner- as divine. So in 2019, President Trump approvingly retweeted a Twitter post proclaiming that Israeli Jews like him "like he's the King of Israel. They love him like his is the second coming of God." The following year (as in 1:37 of the video below), he looked skyward and stated "I am the Chosen One."


In December, 2020 one scholar explained

Despite a king-hating revolution nearly 250 years ago, U.S. television audiences never seem to get enough of the British monarchy. Maybe the American obsession with shows like The Crown and, before that, The Stuarts is an unlikely afterglow of the once-potent theory of the divine right of kings. It’s as good an explanation as any, but what is divine-right theory, anyway?

Divine right is the notion that royalty is given divine sanction to rule. In the words of England’s King James I (r. 1603–1625): “The State of MONARCHIE is the supremest thing upon earth: For Kings are not only GOD’S Lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon GOD’S throne, but even by GOD himself they are called GODS.”

Thus there is a confluence between the divine and the monarchical- and authoritarianism. A month after the presidential election he lost, Trump tweeted “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

When Trump likens himself to the rock upon whom Christianity is built (sorry, Peter), advocates abrogation of the Constitution, and identifies as a king, he is easily knocked as out of control or insane. But it is neither, nor insanity.  It is instead authoritarianism with a hint of Christian dominionism, intended to keep politically conservative, evangelical Christians.  This is not psychosis or insanity. It is an allusion to Christian dominionism with an unabashed embrace of authoritarianism.   

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