This may be dismissed off-hand as the bizarre world of the madman, but it’s indicative of a broader social pattern of grave suspicion of social reality, a kind of full flowering reifying the post-truth world we’ve found ourselves in. Entertainment has conquered reality after all, and buried the world of facts with it. Everything became suspicious, cynical. Art or entertainment no longer a reflection of the real world, but its hall of mirrors absorbing reality itself. Only when everything became an absorbing simulation, reality became somehow more melodramatic. It was emotional. It was meaner, fearful, dumber. The masters of the suspicion proliferated in tandem with the explosion of the phony world, and everyone’s lost their minds.
The heel is the antagonist who breaks the rules, cheats, sabotages, and nastily takes advantage of his opponents outside the ring. In lucha libre wrestling, heels (rudo) are brawlers fighting with brute forces, often dressing up like devils or tricksters. Trump wears the same suite and tie every day, like portraying this character he invented. And he gets his crowd to boo, hiss, cheer and jeer, to chant “build the wall!” or “lock her up!” and carries on about “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary,” he turns his political opponents into wrestling characters, and brings what might have been reasoned debate to the level of vulgar theater. His opponents were caught flat footed while he stirred the nationalist id. They either never understood what was going on or were not prepared to meet him on the mat.
More important than the mere act of pathologizing Trump is to understand the social psychology that prepares a culture for Trumpism. This move not only sidesteps the Goldwater Rule, but points us toward a more interesting project of a systematic critical social and psychological introspection in a world of increasing shallowness and hateful reactivity. Wherever there is a post-truth president, there shall we find the post-truth world.
More and more, both arm chair diagnosticians and mental health professionals alike are questioning the mental stability of President Trump. They’re asking what’s the matter what this guy? What’s his malfunction? What the hell is […]