Monday, February 5, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He suggested it might be treason not to clap for him.

Appearing before a screened, friendly audience at a rally in Cincinnati, Trump waxed angry about how Democrats at the State of the Union didn't clap for him. "Even on positive news, really positive news like that — they were like death. And un-American. Un-American." Trump paused to point to someone in the audience, adding, "Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not! I mean they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."

Trump's tone suggested he was treating it lightly, but he often appears to genuinely believe that he is the presidency and the nation personified. He has reacted with confusion and anger to the suggestion that opposing him is different from opposing the United States. This is most clearly seen in his reaction to James Comey's refusal to pledge loyalty to Trump personally, but also in his abuse of Jefferson Sessions for the "very unfair" act of his recusal, or his suggestion that US intelligence agencies were staffed with Nazis because they were investigating Russian election interference even after he said there was none.

The treason statement was part of a much larger portion of the speech in which he fretted about the prospect of losing control of a protective Congress. Ostensibly, he was supposed to be talking about his tax plan and its supposed economic benefits. While Trump spoke, US markets were in the midst of a freefall. The Dow Jones, which had been in a slow five-year upward trend, fell 1,175 points in its biggest single-day loss ever.

Why does this matter?

  • Past a certain point, a need for affirmation becomes pathological. 
  • Not supporting Donald Trump isn't a crime. 
  • Thinking that people don't love a country if they don't love the leader is what authoritarians (and cult leaders) do.