Good night, and good luck
—Edward R. Murrow
I’m getting used to the idea that Trump will be the next President of the United States. For a year now, every rational person I know, including myself, and every reasonable pundit I read has insisted that Trump’s candidacy was a freak show, bound to fail. We were wrong. Trump is the Republican candidate, and it is a horrible thought.
But thinking, as we normally think we think, is the problem. The science of the mind tells us that the hippocampus, the emotional part of the brain runs the show. Situated between the neocortex, the seat of rational thought, and the basal ganglia, the primordial reptilian brain, the hippocampus first takes the measure of our feelings. If we feel good, the hippocampus allows our neocortex to influence the decision. In periods of high emotion the reptilian brain jams the circuitry, demanding “flight or fight.”and, in the midst of uncertainty, we default to the unconscious herding instinct. This is such a time in our history.
To vote for Trump, one must carefully ignore the truth about the man: he is an ignoramus, a sociopath, a narcissist, a proven liar and cheater. He is a very bad man. Well, social mood is so bad now that millions of voters have succumbed, and are planning to vote for him. Having unconsciously yielded to the demands of the basest sector of their brains, they are now busy “rationalizing” themselves into the correct posture for voting for the monster.
For the huge cohort that has watched the 1% get filthy rich in this globalized economy that destroyed their jobs, Trump is the perfect fuck you candidate. Every time he gives the elites the finger, he gains street cred. The religious right, ever fearful of having a liberal court interfere with their political agenda, gratuitously panders to this clown without a moral compass. Politicians set aside principle to keep their seats. Who’s left to vote against him? You and me, baby (or, at least me).
As I write this, Trump is taking a hit in the polls. He’s done that before. He’s still out there, menacing. Anthropologist, David Greaber notes that when the mood is anarchical, the public finds it deeply satisfying to cheer for an ogre who provides a vicarious thrill by being purposely despicable.
I think he’s gonna continue to surprise us. God Almighty, I hope I’m wrong.