Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today Donald Trump crossed my mind. Those of you who have read, well, nearly anything of mine know full well that I am anything but a Trump fan. He was ill-equipped to be the leader of the free world (and his actions showed this), he has the temperament of a willful child (read as, “immature spoiled brat”), and is narcissistic (yes, he’s a jerk). If we’re being completely honest, he’s also a criminal and insurrectionist. And yet, I felt sorry for him.
His presidency was a four-year lesson in civics as to why it is important for everybody to vote. He lost the popular vote in 2016, but not by enough to lose the electoral college vote. And of course, the people who voted for him continue to love him. They voted for him because he’s mean spirited, a bully, and belittles people in a manner that his followers want to belittle others. They still want to live in a world where white men are in charge, people who don’t like it are “thin skinned” and it’s their fault and could never ever be the fault of the Aryan race. But while this was their utopia that they hoped for with Trump, it just never happened. People are basically good, kindhearted and care for others, much to the chagrin of these Trump supporters.
But I started thinking about his post-presidency actions. Not in terms of politics. The Republican party is allowing him to continue to have influence, and his influence is tearing the party apart as many Republican supporters are beginning to question if Trump’s party still stands for their morals. But, if you think about what he has been doing, and how he has been acting of late, it becomes all too clear that he is very hurt and struggling with his emotional pain right now. Maybe what we can learn from him extends beyond politics and into psychological pain.
How often have we refused to believe something bad? To this day, Trump cannot accept that he was not re-elected and has launched a campaign of disinformation that is hurting American democracy. And yet, the root of this campaign is a refusal to accept reality. I’m guessing that, in his mind, he cannot fathom not being so popular that people actually voted against him. This goes all the way back to 2016 when, even then, he insisted that not only did he win the presidency, but that he won the popular vote “by a landslide”. I believe this is basically the same thing. He must have won the popular vote (and the 2020 election) because he believes everybody loves him. This means any outcome to the contrary must be wrong.
This is not an uncommon response. I know that when I was divorced, denial was a major response of mine. She must still love me, she’ll come back to me, she’ll come to her senses. But denial takes work. It requires you to find reasons that you are correct, and willful ignorance of anything that proves otherwise. Of course, my wife didn’t have an affair, how could she if she loves me? Well, she can’t. That’s kind of the point.
I’m not worried about Trump. Unlike the rest of us, I’m sure he still has an army of psychiatrists, advisers and doctors watching him. Even if he’s not taking chemicals that would be illegal if it were you or I, I’m sure he’s also and legal mood “levelers” as well to help him cope. Unfortunately, he has the power to take his disbelief and turn it into a political movement. An army of his loyal followers are flowing through the court system on charges of insurrection, and yet they’re to a large extent still loyal. He has enough monetary and political clout to begin turning on his perceived enemies even within this own Republican party. Is this paranoia, or is it just another symbol that he cannot accept that there are people who don’t like him?
In a way, he’s right. The election was taken from him, but not stolen. It was taken by a vast majority of Americans who legally voted against him. And now he has to deal with the fact that he is not, in fact, the most popular president in history, nor the best, nor the most successful. These are thoughts that we have probably all had to face at some point in our life and get beyond. Even today I came across the letter given to me when I was dismissed from my job with the police department, but I have no illusions about its legality. Yes, I had fans, and yes, I’ve accomplished a lot, but I can guarantee that the person they replaced me with was more popular, at least among the command staff. But that in no way detracts from my accomplishments, and I can move on. There is a reason that Trump cannot which makes me feel sorry for him and his followers.