Better arguments will not win the day because they believe that Trump is part of an Apocalyptic narrative.
hi my name is Frank Schaefer I am a
writer and a painter sitting in my
studio in my bathrobe having just
finished painting this morning I tend to
work in the morning and getting ready to
take a walk with three of my my five
grandchildren but before I get up and
shower and shave and go out I just
wanted to share something with you and
that is that I’ve been talking to people
in the media and other folks who are in
politics and they all asked me the same
question and it goes something like this
Frank your background was in the
religious right your father was a
religious right leader can you explain
to us why
Trump’s most unwavering support comes
from evangelical Christians who say they
follow Jesus who’s teaching seems to go
across everything Trump is from his
arrogance to his lies to his
divisiveness and all the rest of it and
question mark close quotes and I think
it’s instructive to point out a couple
of things first of all it’s pretty much
beyond debate that Trump is mentally
unstable and unfit to be President as
such it’s also beyond debate that his
own lifestyle of philandering groping
women sexual assault bragging about it
three marriages immense amounts of
womanizing that he bragged about on
shows like Howard Stern’s radio show
would all be dismissed as filthy living
and satanic by evangelicals when it
would involve anybody else say their own
pastor who they would fire instantly if
he was caught doing a tenth of these
things and then you come to the racial
divisiveness and the outright support
for the KKK neo-nazis white supremacist
and others that’s easier to explain
because a lot of white evangelicals are
racists they come from a movement that
was in the forefront of segregation was
in the forefront of starting white
schools to get around integration of
public schools and so forth but that
said there are millions of white
evangelicals who are not racists and who
welcome people of other
is to our midst for instance their
brothers and sisters in Christ who are
Hispanic in the Pentecostal movement so
that begs the question why out of that
eighty-one percent vote from white
evangelicals are the core of the core
still hanging in with him and I think
what a lot of secular people who
question me don’t understand is that if
Trump is delusional it’s no accident
that his core support are the most
delusional and mentally unfit people in
America and that is religious fanatics
of all stripes fundamentalists of all
kinds this kind of fundamentalism isn’t
limited to America and India for
instance there are fundamentalist
nationalist Hindus murdering Muslims
because they say that some Muslim ate
some beef or killed a cow and in Israel
the the fundamentalist Orthodox Jews
there are circling the wagon and
essentially trying to turn that state
into a kind of an apartheid state where
Palestinians are treated to second-class
citizens and as someone who lived in
South Africa for a year while I was
making a movie there back in the mid
1980s I can say that when I visit the
State of Israel looks more and more like
apartheid South Africa so the phenomena
of the rise of delusional xenophobic
conspiracy theory Laden movements with
religious spin to them is universal it’s
what Iran is about it’s what Saudi
Arabia and the Islamists that it backed
all over the world through its Wahhabism
exporting radical violent Islam which
continues to do to this day is all about
so we’re part of a global phenomena but
that said the evangelical white group of
voters who supported Trump are his core
of his core support people talk about
hillbilly elegy and this sort of theory
of working-class America and blue-collar
America being left behind and yeah
that’s a contributing factor as is
racism and the rest of it but the core
of his support is delusional white
evangelical Christianity so what I have
to explain to my
questioners in the secular media and
often political operatives as well who
want to have my opinion because I’ve
been around the block I knew people like
President Reagan and Jack Kemp and the
Bush family and all the rest when I was
a religious right activists myself is
why as their support someone shakable so
let me explain very briefly here it’s
simple it’s not political support it is
support for a religious worldview they
have made Trump into a theological issue
about the return of Christ there is a
group of evangelicals in the Pentecostal
movement and elsewhere who believe that
Trump somehow fulfills prophecy of being
perhaps an unjust King perhaps a wicked
man but very much like some of the kings
in the Old Testament stories has been
raised up nevertheless by God to do a
job and that is to purify America from
whether it’s transgenders or gay people
or purify America by appointing Supreme
Court justices that will overturn roe v
wade this prepares the way for the
return of Christ so showing them better
facts or that he’s told a thousand
verifiable lies at this point literally
or showing them that a $15 an hour
minimum wage is something that’s good or
that universal health care is what
Americans want or that college debt is
crushing the millennial generation and
that relief of college debt would be so
wonderful or that we really need a
genuine infrastructure program none of
this matters because the certainty
addiction brain of all fundamentalists
is delusional it changes in the same way
that drug addicts on opioid abuse change
it isn’t a question of choice it’s the
actual neural pathways in our brain our
reshaped by belief sometime to the point
where you have this kind of epigenetic
inheritance among evangelical groups
where with their mother’s milk
evangelical children are taught to
reject the world’s wisdom ie science and
facts as fake news the real news is in
the Bible whether it’s about creation or
Genesis or the fact Noah’s Ark really
existed or whatever
be male female sexual relationships and
so forth so having set up a totally
alternative universe you have to
understand that evangelical Christianity
itself is like birtherism it is a
conspiracy theory that believes the
whole world it’s science its facts its
scholarship it’s academic elites the
media common-sense all of this is
somehow a conspiracy of Satan to
distract real believers on track to get
to heaven when they die to receive Jesus
when he comes back to a more perfect
world where women’s rights have been
stripped away where gays are back in the
closet are dead where for a lot of them
it’s a white Protestant middle class
culture so get it through your heads
everybody better arguments are not going
to win the day
what is going to win is if we can
convince people that these religiously
fanatical certainty addicts are
dangerous and Trump is unleashing them
if you want to know where they’d like to
take America watch Handmaid’s Tale there
may be details in that that are wrong
but that’s their idea of a theocratic
heaven on earth logic has nothing to do
with it what we need to do is talk to
independent voters people who think both
parties are the same which is utter
nonsense and get there a pathetic
distance from the political process
cured by showing them who these
evangelical voters really are they’re
delusional fanatics there is delusional
and fanatical and demented as Donald
Trump they like him because he is an
image a secular image albeit a
philandering image or beard but an image
of delusional delusional worldview and
so they look to him as a fellow
delusional conspiracy theorist who
marches to the same drummer they do
which is alternative fact delusion lies
accepted as truth evangelicals think
from God Donald Trump thinks from his
own ego which is all
cares about he worships himself but the
delusion cuts across both Trump and his
core followers they are deluded they are
in fact crazy thank you my name is Frank
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It is a stunning turnabout. A party that once spoke with urgency and apparent conviction about the importance of ethical leadership — fidelity, honesty, honor, decency, good manners, setting a good example — has hitched its wagon to the most thoroughly and comprehensively corrupt individual who has ever been elected president. Some of the men who have been elected president have been unscrupulous in certain areas — infidelity, lying, dirty tricks, financial misdeeds — but we’ve never before had the full-spectrum corruption we see in the life of Donald Trump.
.. And the moral indictment against Mr. Trump is obvious and overwhelming. Corruption has been evident in Mr. Trump’s private and public life,
- in how he has treated his wives,
- in his business dealings and scams,
- in his pathological lying and cruelty,
- in his bullying and shamelessness,
- in his conspiracy-mongering and appeals to the darkest impulses of Americans. (Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, refers to the president’s race-based comments as a “base stimulator.”)
Mr. Trump’s corruptions are ingrained, the result of a lifetime of habits. It was delusional to think he would change for the better once he became president.
.. Some of us who have been lifelong Republicans and previously served in Republican administrations held out a faint hope that our party would at some point say “Enough!”; that there would be some line Mr. Trump would cross, some boundary he would transgress, some norm he would shatter, some civic guardrail he would uproot, some action he would take, some scheme or scandal he would be involved in that would cause large numbers of Republicans to break with the president. No such luck. Mr. Trump’s corruptions have therefore become theirs. So far there’s been no bottom, and there may never be.
.. the Republican Party’s as-yet unbreakable attachment to Mr. Trump is coming at quite a cost. There is the rank hypocrisy, the squandered ability to venerate public character or criticize Democrats who lack it, and the damage to the white Evangelical movement, which has for the most part enthusiastically rallied to Mr. Trump and as a result has been largely discredited.
.. Mr. Trump and the Republican Party are right now the chief emblem of corruption and cynicism in American political life, of an ethic of might makes right. Dehumanizing others is fashionable and truth is relative. (“Truth isn’t truth,” in the infamous words of Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.) They are stripping politics of its high purpose and nobility.
.. A warning to my Republican friends: The worst is yet to come. Thanks to the work of Robert Mueller — a distinguished public servant, not the leader of a “group of Angry Democrat Thugs” — we are going to discover deeper and deeper layers to Mr. Trump’s corruption. When we do, I expect Mr. Trump will unravel further as he feels more cornered, more desperate, more enraged; his behavior will become ever more erratic, disordered and crazed.
Most Republicans, having thrown their MAGA hats over the Trump wall, will stay with him until the end. Was a tax cut, deregulation and court appointments really worth all this?
A new study from Southern Methodist University says the nation’s capital has more psychopaths per person than anyplace else in the country.
No surprise there.
.. The study notes that “psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere” and that “the occupations that were most disproportionately psychopathic were
- police officer,
- chef, and
- civil servant.”
.. So if a chief executive, salesman and media personality becomes a politician, he’s hitting four of the highest-risk categories.
.. Next came the soul-deadening inversion of American values, when Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the Bible to justify ripping children from their parents at the border — including a baby being breast-fed by her Honduran mother. The Statue of Liberty wept.
.. Sessions is on a vile tear. A week ago, he vitiated the policy that made it possible to give asylum to women who are victims of domestic abuse or who are raped or threatened by the sort of gang members Trump decries as “animals.”
.. The week was capped, naturally, with a Giuliani aria — “When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Rudy told The Daily News in New York — and by the usual torrent of whiny, delusional, deceptive, self-exalting tweets by President Trump.
.. We knew Trump was a skinflint and a grifter. But the New York attorney general deeply documented just how cheesy he and his children are with a suit accusing the Trump charitable foundation of illegal behavior and self-dealing. It was just what Trump always accused the Clintons of doing.
.. The supposed nonprofit was little more than a Trump piggy bank used to settle legal claims and pay off political backers. The good news for Trump was that the prosecutor proposed that he be banned from charitable activities — a fine excuse for someone who obviously wants nothing to do with charity.
.. He has somehow managed to get Republicans in a position where they are cooing over his overtures to North Korea — overtures for which they would have impeached Barack Obama — and looking the other way while he upends the free trade policy that has been party dogma for decades. Meanwhile, the usually peacenik Democrats are assailing Trump for deigning to talk nice with Kim.
.. It makes sense if you think about it: A wannabe dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father talking to a real dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father.
What is going to happen to American Evangelicalism in the wake of the Roy Moore defeat? Christianity Today editor Mark Galli, in an editorial, says nothing good.Excerpts:
No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.
.. The Christian leaders who have excused, ignored, or justified his unscrupulous behavior and his indecent rhetoric have only given credence to their critics who accuse them of hypocrisy.
.. David Brody, a correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, has noted the desperation and urgency felt throughout much of conservative Christianity. “The way evangelicals see the world, the culture is not only slipping away—it’s slipping away in all caps, with four exclamation points after that. It’s going to you-know-what in a handbasket.” The logic is then inexorable: “Where does that leave evangelicals? It leaves them with a choice. Do they sacrifice a little bit of that ethical guideline they’ve used in the past in exchange for what they believe is saving the culture?”
.. If evangelical means that, it has serious ramifications for the work of Christians and churches.”
That notion is bewildering to evangelical leaders who see Mr. Trump as their champion. They say that Mr. Trump has given them more access than any president in recent memory, and has done more to advance their agenda, by appointing judges who are likely to rule against abortion and gay rights; by channeling government funds to private religious schools; by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and by calling for the elimination of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and charitable groups from endorsing political candidates.
.. “I believe that God answered our prayers in a way we didn’t expect, for a person we didn’t even necessarily like,” said Stephen E. Strang, author of “God and Donald Trump” and founder of Charisma Media, a Christian publishing house.
“Christians believe in redemption and forgiveness, so they’re willing to give Donald Trump a chance,” said Mr. Strang, who is a member of the president’s informal council of evangelical advisers. “If he turns out to be a lecher like Bill Clinton, or dishonest in some kind of way, in a way that’s proven, you’ll see the support fade as quick as it came.”
Mr. Strang said that those who talk about Mr. Trump tarnishing the evangelical brand “are not really believers — they’re not with us, anyway.”
.. You cannot underestimate the impact of being raised to think that morality was so important that impeachment was justified, and then see the very same people who instilled that belief in you to jump into bed with Donald Trump–a man just as morally debauched as Clinton, but without the advantage of competency or even enough of a sense of decency to know that his lecherous behavior isn’t something to brag about.
.. The key problem is in, as Galli says it, “the desperation and urgency felt throughout much of conservative Christianity.” The New Testament tells us repeatedly, in many different ways and through the examples of the apostles, that Christians should not fear or worry — and certainly not feel desperation! — even in the face of persecution. I was glad to see that he addressed the proper scriptural ways of dealing with such situations: turning the other cheek, forgiving, and doing good to our enemies.
Christians who rationalize compromising our testimony out of desperation are simply not trusting the one they claim to follow.
.. for the first time I can remember, the appearance of Danielite and Johannine apocalyptic imagery in both sermons and discussions on the left. (This isn’t entirely unwelcome, and I think it’s totally appropriate about environmental stewardship, but I am more interested in seeing the left pull the right out of their foxhole than in the left digging our own.)
.. “evangelical” seems to have been co-opted as a political label and makes no distinction between a theological disposition and a cultural identifier. It seems, anymore, to simply mean “non-mainline Protestants,”
.. The older Evangelicals are treading on dangerous ground and alienating their next generation by putting political power over living by Christ’s example.
.. The fault line in the schism is whether one takes a culture war-dominionist posture or faithful minority counterculture posture. This fault line — which also divides Christian generations — has lain hidden for a while, but Trump has exposed it, because the dominionists think they can use the Strongman for their own purposes and, maybe, by being his chaplaincy, even make a true believer of him.
The counterculturalists — usually younger evangelicals — think that’s a delusional misreading both of Trump and of the actual standing of Christianity in our nation, and that in the meantime going all-in with this Administration means shredding theological clarity and moral credibility.
.. In terms of Trump he is politician and in a rare moment of listening to his advisers, Paul Manafort was right that Mike Pence was correct choice for VP to ensure the evangelical vote came out for him.
.. But as they explain it, it was because of the supreme court, lesser of two evils, etc. Fine. I get that. What I don’t get is people trying to make Trump out to be the last best hope for the evangelical church.
.. In this sense, Trump and Roy Moore are in the tradition of the Emperor Constantine, whose interest in Christianity was purely for its use as a political tool. Ever since Constantine, there have always been Machiavellian leaders who used the Church for their own cynical purposes, and there will always be such leaders.
.. I suspect “evangelicals” were among the many “Christians” a few years ago who professed to see no contradiction between Christianity and the ideas of Ayn Rand. In other words, many self-identified “evangelicals” are really just identifying their cultural background, not their theology. (And they don’t know their theology.)
.. However, I think that evagelicals were already hated by elite culture
.. “There is no way we can please them, they are going to hate us no matter what. We might as well support the bad ass who will fight for us, or at least not ramp up the persecution of elite culture against us.”
.. This strategy will also most likely fail, since Trump is likely to fail, and horribly. But I understand the despair and desperation that motivates it.
.. I’m one such libertarian, who recently left the PCA for the ECUSA. I felt that the social conservatives were becoming a professional liability for me. If I agreed with them, that would be fine. But I don’t. I don’t believe in criminalizing early-term abortion and I’m fine with civil same-sex marriage. And I’m not willing to suffer socially for views that I don’t hold and that IMO represent bad policy.
Jay Rosen, a media scholar at New York University, has been arguing for months that “many things Trump does are best explained by Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” and that journalists should start saying so. In March, the Times published a letter by the psychiatrists Robert Jay Lifton and Judith L. Herman, who stated that Trump’s “repeated failure to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and his outbursts of rage when his fantasies are contradicted” suggest that, “faced with crisis, President Trump will lack the judgment to respond rationally.”
.. . Philip Zimbardo, who is best known for his Stanford Prison Experiment, and his co-author, Rosemary Sword, propose that Trump is an “extreme present hedonist.” He may also be a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, borderline, on the bipolar spectrum, a hypomanic, suffering from delusional disorder, or cognitively impaired.
.. Lyndon Johnson was bipolar, and John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton might have been characterized as “extreme present hedonists,” narcissists, and hypomanics. Richard Nixon was, in addition to his narcissism, a sociopath who suffered from delusions, and Ronald Reagan’s noticeable cognitive decline began no later than his second term.
.. Alexander Esenin-Volpin, one of the founders of the Soviet dissident movement, receive his medical documents, dating back to his hospitalizations decades earlier. His diagnosis of mental illness was based explicitly on his expressed belief that protest could overturn the Soviet regime. Esenin-Volpin laughed with delight when he read the document. It was funny. It was also accurate: the idea that the protest of a few intellectuals could bring down the Soviet regime was insane. Esenin-Volpin, in fact, struggled with mental-health issues throughout his life. He was also a visionary.
.. at the same time, they are analyzing what we all see: the President’s persistent, blatant lies (there is some disagreement among contributors on whether he knows he is lying or is, in fact, delusional); his contradictory statements; his inability to hold a thought; his aggression; his lack of empathy. None of this is secret, special knowledge—it is all known to the people who voted for him. We might ask what’s wrong with them rather than what’s wrong with him.
.. the election reflects “a woundedness at the core of the American group Self,” with Trump offering protection from further injury and even a cure for the wound. The conversation turns, as it must, from diagnosing the President to diagnosing the people who voted for him. That has the effect of making Trump appear normal—in the sense that, psychologically, he is offering his voters what they want and need.
Review of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” by Bandy X. Lee (ed.), “Twilight of American Sanity” by Allen Frances, and “Fantasyland” by Kurt Andersen.
“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” features more than two dozen essays breaking down the president’s perceived traits, which the contributors find consistent with symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and other maladies.
.. In his new book, “Twilight of American Sanity,” psychiatrist Allen Frances asserts that Trump is not mentally ill — we are. “Calling Trump crazy allows us to avoid confronting the craziness in our society,” he writes. “We can’t expect to change Trump, but we must work to undo the societal delusions that created him.”
.. And those delusions, Kurt Andersen contends in “Fantasyland,” have been around for a long time. “People tend to regard the Trump moment — this post-truth, alternative facts moment — as some inexplicable and crazy new American phenomenon,” he writes. “In fact, what’s happening is just the ultimate extrapolation and expression of attitudes and instincts that have made America exceptional for its entire history.”
.. The volume’s contributors take solace in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, a 1976 case in which the California Supreme Court held that mental-health experts have a responsibility to speak out when they determine that someone poses a physical danger to others.
.. “The majority of mental health professionals tend to be liberal in their leanings,”
.. Noam Chomsky makes an odd cameo in the book’s epilogue, warning that the Trump administration may stage a fake terrorist attack.
.. Allen Frances wrote the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder used in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and he doesn’t think Trump qualifies. In “Twilight of American Sanity,” Frances says the diagnosis requires the patient to experience significant distress because of his condition. But throughout his life, Trump “has been generously rewarded for his Trumpism, not impaired by it,” Frances writes. “Trump is a threat to the United States, and to the world, not because he is clinically mad, but because he is very bad.”
.. He trashes Trump as a “secular antichrist,” a “two-bit, would-be Mussolini,” even an instrument of divine vengeance. “If you were assigned the task of punishing humanity for its original sins,” he thunders, “you could do no better than invent a Donald Trump and give him extraordinary power.”
.. America is delusional not just because it elected Trump, but because it doesn’t conform to Frances’s views on climate change, population growth, technology, privacy, war, economics and guns.
.. Kurt Andersen is here to tell us that America has featured magical thinking and nutty impulses for centuries. Thanks to our mix of religiosity and Enlightenment values — plus the do-your-own-thing vibe of the 1960s and the super-powered distribution channel known as the Internet — Americans have developed a “promiscuous devotion to the untrue,”
.. he chronicles those he considers purveyors of secular and religious pipe dreams, from Cotton Mather to P.T. Barnum, from Walt Disney to Oprah Winfrey. And, of course, from Donald Trump the real estate huckster to Donald Trump the commander in chief.
.. “Fantasyland” reads like the work of an author who comes up with a catchy idea and then Dumpster-dives his way through history for anything supporting it.
.. “Fantasyland” reads like the work of an author who comes up with a catchy idea and then Dumpster-dives his way through history for anything supporting it.
.. “Trump waited to run for president until he sensed that a critical mass of Americans had decided politics were all a show and a sham,” Andersen explains.
At that point, Trump fit right in.
.. writing books lamenting America’s generalized insanity — and the delusions of Trump supporters in particular — may not be the ideal first step to win that trust. For all their expertise in human behavior, these psychiatrists don’t seem well-equipped to coax us out of our current political madness.