The following is an except from the Citizen Therapists post. The founder is William J. Doherty is a professor in the Department of Family Social Science in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, where he directs the Citizen Professional Center and the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project. He has practiced as a therapist for over 40 years.
What is Trumpism?
Trumpism is an ideology, not an individual, and it may well endure and grow after the Presidential election even if Donald Trump is defeated. (Variants can be seen all over Europe.) Trumpism is a set of ideas about public life and a set of public practices characterized by:
- Scapegoating and banishing groups of people who are seen as threats, including immigrants and religious minorities.
- Degrading, ridiculing, and demeaning rivals and critics.
- Fostering a cult of the Strong Man who:
- Appeals to fear and anger
- Promises to solve our problems if we just trust in him
- Reinvents history and has little concern for truth
- Never apologizes or admits mistakes of consequence
- Sees no need for rational persuasion
- Subordinates women while claiming to idealize them
- Disdains public institutions like the courts when they are not subservient
- Champions national power over international law and respect for other nations
- Incites and excuses public violence by supporters
At the political level, Trumpism is an emerging form of American fascism, a point being made by social critics across the political spectrum, including Robert Reich, Robert Kagan, and Andrew Sullivan. As journalist Adam Gopnik points out, whether or not the term “fascism” fully fits, it’s clear that the American republic faces a clear and present danger when the candidate of a major political party embraces an anti-democratic ideology. At the cultural level, the Urban Dictionary has defined Trumpism as “the belief system that encourages pretentious, narcissistic behavior as a way to achieve money, fame, and power.”
What are the Effects of Trumpism?
- Fear and alienation among scapegoated groups, beginning with Latino immigrants and Muslims, and then other groups who become identified as threats
- Exaggerated masculinity as a cultural ideal, with particular influence on young people and economically insecure men
- Coarsening of public life by personal attacks on those who disagree
- Erosion of the American democratic tradition which has emphasized the agency of we-the-people instead of the Strong Man tradition of power
Where Did Trumpism Come From?
This question is bigger than Donald Trump. The next public figure to capture the wave of Trumpism may be less clownish and have a better set of movement-building skills, and thus be even more dangerous. Following is a partial list of forces that underlie Trumpism:
- Economic insecurity, particularly among working-class Americans
- The threat of terrorism since 9/11
- Fear of immigrants (related to economic insecurity and threats of terrorism)
- Distrust for government and politicians at a time of polarized gridlock
- Growing distrust for other institutions such as religion, the press, and the courts
- Rapid cultural change that has left many people confused and alienated
From my viewpoint (Steve) the fear shouldn’t be directed at the Donald, in fact maybe thanks are in order. What!? Well let’s look at the Donald as the beacon that shines the light on the real threat and that’s the state of affairs that created Donald’s ability to rise to such a lofty perch. Its the “ism” that Donald is speaking to, for his own reasons, that should be a concern to all of us. There is a slight chance that he will spar with some foreign leader like Kim Jong-un of North Korea. The real worry is the potential of a majority of American sentiment moves towards Trumpism.
The remedy lies in the voting booth 2 years from now and ultimately in four years. Congress should be turning up their hearing aids and actually listen to the discontent and its underlying causes.