On November 4, four years ago, I published the following blog post. I believe it has even more relevance today, and it’s fascinating to see how much we understood what we were facing back then. Here is the post:
Before going to sleep last night, I was pretty certain that Hilary would not prevail. Still, it was a shock to wake up to Neanderthal Donald Trump as the new president elect. After I unpeeled my flattened self from the floor, I began thinking about the bigger picture, and that helped me put what had happened into a larger perspective.
Trump , a hollow man, has been the vessel for his unfiltered and unscripted unconscious. He conveys shadowy ideas and values that connect with similar notions in his viewers. In a way, he’s communicating directly with their unconscious, the effect being that he is stirring something deep within them, in psychoanalytic parlance, a kind of transference. That’s why he mesmerizes many of his followers, and they can’t see beyond what he projects on stage. Since many of them feel overlooked and are seeking a savior, Trump fills the role for them, becoming a kind of messiah figure they believe will lead them out of their misery and set America on the right track.
I believe another dynamic is also going on. It doesn’t take a sociologist to see that our legislature has ossified, especially under Republican rule, though the Democrats are no less at fault. Gridlock. Inability to negotiate or to find common ground. An unwillingness to think deeply about issues and promote the larger good. These are only a few of our government’s problems.
Though I’m sure Trump didn’t enter this political campaign intending to do anything but win on his terms and attract the constant attention he so desperately needs, he has actually become a victim of his own emptiness. Since in certain ways, he isn’t directly part of the Washington problem, voters have installed him as president in order to be a wrecking ball that will blast through some of these rigidified systems and breath fresh life into the structures.
Trump’s MO is not playing by the rules (probably because he doesn’t understand them), so in his blundering way, he could cause unexpected situations that will create an opportunity for change to occur. Of course, that doesn’t mean these modifications will be welcome or constructive, but they could be an opportunity for something positive to emerge. Destruction is part of regeneration. It’s why new management can be such a threat. In order to make positive changes in an institution, something must die and be replaced before renewal can happen.
We writers can be effective during this time by reflecting on what is happening through poetry, satirical plays/stories, or essays/op ed columns and opinion pieces. Words do have power, as Trump has demonstrated, even when they are lies. They can be used as Trump does to deceive and mislead the vulnerable. Or they can build bridges and expose frauds, leading readers to deeper understandings of the various problems involved. In this way, we can turn this potentially negative time into something positive by harnessing our energy in creative, constructive ways that will not only nourish us but also feed our readers.