Op-ed: Doublethink Redux?

Donald Trump has offended every foreign country he’s about to visit.
International Business Times. May 21, 2017

By Bill Britton 

As a humanist and progressive, I am an outlier in the social and political reality that exists in America today. You might well call me the antithesis of Trump and his minions. I don’t consider myself superior to these people, but I do pity them. They have replaced critical thinking with emotional tribalism and objectivity with myth; and with myth comes the need for a myth-maker. Hitler was one, Papa Doc Duvalier another, and Trump is the latest. 

The primary conditions leading to the rise of a myth-maker in politics are feelings of social and political isolation, inferiority, and alienation. These feelings are coalesced into a stew of simmering anger in search of a voice, someone who can speak the language of the supposed oppressed, a language that twists or ignores facts and elevates emotion instead and the “alternative facts” first espoused by Trump’s press secretary. 

Trump was shown to be a master at myth-making. He knows how to press the hot buttons of real or imagined repression. Of course a coalition of the “repressed” needs allies to gain political power. In the case of Trump’s rise, there were several. Evangelical Christians saw in Trump an opportunity to tilt the Supreme Court and the lower courts in favor of anti-abortion and other legislation that might move the United States toward becoming a Christian nation in law and in fact. Trump gladly accommodated them in exchange for their support, despite Trump not having one iota of Christian virtue. 

The other two major allies were right-wing radio and TV and Wall Street investors. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh (now deceased) continue to dominate the airwaves despite a slight chill in their relationship with Trump. Wall Street has always played to the inherent greed of investors both big and small who have benefitted from (in many cases) thoughtless deregulation of environmental protections and the privatization of public lands. The end result has been the obscene concentration of wealth and a rush toward environmental collapse. 

There is no easy cure for the existential dangers we find ourselves confronting. Do we have the political will to legislate means for redistributing wealth? The will to acknowledge the real costs of the goods we crave, costs that ignore the externalities of industrial wastes and pollution contaminating our triple lifeblood of air, soil, and water? The will to stem a population explosion that will see more than 9 billion of us scrambling to reach the nirvana of a middle-class existence or beyond?  

We need a leader who is willing to confront the myriad problems facing us and explain them in terms that are both simple and alarming. Joe Biden represents a first step toward realizing that leadership. Or will we again descend into the Orwellian (Trumpian?) pit of doublethink, where ignorance is strength and lies are truths? 

Bill Britton is a freelance writer and formerly an editor for John Hopkins University Press, ABI Research, and Elsevier Science, He is a frequent contributor to Vero Communiqué.

His views are his own and do not represent the views of Vero Communiqué.

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