It is a good thing to try to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. We shouldn’t fool ourselves about how well we can do that, but for some situations, we do a pretty good job. For example, if we watch a movie and someone gets attacked by a Great White Shark, we know we would feel pretty terrified and it’s a fairly good assumption that they are going to be terrified.
Let’s imagine how it feels inside the experience of a person who lies constantly and absurdly about how wonderful and great he is; how beloved he is by everyone; how he is the best at everything. Let’s say he declares himself to be a wobble-free genius. Can you imagine how empty he feels inside? He believes himself to be utterly incapable of anything which is why he insists he are successful at everything.
I saw the results of such a pathetic hypothetical person once up close and personal in real life. Trump took over a golf course that I was a member at. He made some nice improvements. At that point, I didn’t know him from Adam. But some people at the club did and they quit. Some of those people had been former club champions. So what does Trump do? He orders that the plaques be redone with his name as club champions for those years. He not only had not won those tournaments. He had not even played in them.
Just imagine how you would feel looking at a trophy with your name on it knowing full well that you had done nothing to deserve it. Would you feel proud or ashamed? My guess is that you would feel ashamed. This false “accomplishment” tarnishes every real accomplishment you ever had or that you ever will have. This is a normal response.
But Trump, for whatever reason, has such subterranean self-esteem that any semblance of praise, however false or ill-deserved, feels to him as a seeming life-saving desperate drop of moisture for the shriveled old soul that lives within the shriveled old body. If someone flatters him and he knows it’s flattery, he values that more than he would an honest complement. Because to him, opinions about his abilities or behaviors don’t interest him in the slightest. He’s not going to change because of feedback from this or that politician, family member, thinker, advisor, etc. But he just wants the shadow of true praise that is not based upon fact at all but upon power.
He failed as a businessman. He failed as a family member. He failed his own honor when he dodged the draft a half dozen times. He proved himself a racist by calling for the death penalty for four black youths — who it turned out were innocent. Trump didn’t really know anything about the case. He just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to put his “hat in the ring” for being a racist candidate. Just in case anyone slept through Act 1 due to jet lag or too much wine or whatever, Act 2 was ranting and raving about Obama being an African. “I’ve got proof and I’ll show it the day after the day after the day after the day after….” And, let’s think about it. Here’s a guy — Trump — whose known as a golfer, a playboy and a real estate developer. He’s on record supporting many liberal policies like being pro-abortion. Why would he really care whether Obama was born in Africa? This guy who dodged the draft six times and is already cheating on his taxes suddenly becomes outraged at a particular part of the Constitution that says you must be born in America to be President. Seem plausible?
In case the fifteen foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign from Act 1 wasn’t bright enough, let’s put on the fifty foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign in Act 2. Oh, and if that doesn’t do it for you. I mean, if you were really really zonked on for Acts 1 and 2, don’t you worry! The message of this play is simple and if you didn’t notice the neon-Nazi signs before, now they flashing out a new warning on the subway walls: “Civil War! Then, make me dictator of AmeriKKKa!”
It’s evil and it’s horrible, but it’s also pathetic. Imagine how empty and worthless TFG must feel that he wants the support of people, like him, who derive their sense of worth from something like their supposed race (itself a fiction) or their gender or their inherited wealth — and not from anything they’ve ever accomplished.
At this point, an image occurs to me. A black hole, metaphorical but also quite literal, exist at the very center of TFG. In order to fill it, he is compelled to suck every shred of truth and goodness from everyone around him. More and more people get sucked into the vortex. Who knows? Maybe in some parallel universe, it all comes out as beautiful anti-matter. That may be nice for them. Over there. In that universe.
But for us, back here on the earth we’re familiar with, it’s just plain out — terrible. It exacerbates the emptiness disease that TFG has become. It corrupts all those around him. They all know they’re lying and they each know each of the others is lying. Just like the false championships, if anyone famous goes along with the big lie, that action tarnishes everything good these Senators and Representatives and Newscasters ever did. It outweighs everything from the day, 40 years ago, as a cub scout, they helped someone cross the street to the day that they helped craft significant legislation. All of that is gone. And, for what? Nothing. That’s the real hell of it for them. For nothing.
All of them realize that if there is a coup, none of them will ever be safe again. And, they’ve already pledged their allegiance to the dictator. So, they have no real power. They have to do whatever the oligarchs tell Trump to make them do. They were afraid they’d lose power if they acted ethically; so instead, they acted unethically and as a result lost every shred of power. It’s a great dramatic thread for a farce. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in a real tragedy. And that kind of takes the fun out of it, at least for me.
They could, theoretically, have a great awakening and decide as one to throw off the shackles of the oligarchs and rejoin the difficult game of government by democracy. They would have more power than they ever had before because they would be free to work creatively and solve actual problems with actual work. They would help build a better world for their children and for everyone’s children to live in. They would certainly feel cleaner. That would be something that they could be proud of; that they wouldn’t mind the history books touting; a legacy for grandchildren.
I wonder how the Nazis who were still alive in Germany after the war explained their role to their grandchildren.