Monday, December 19, 2016

Four passivity-syndrome responses to Trump Era, according to Robert Reich

Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy, Univ. California, Berkeley, and former Secretary of Labor in Bill Clinton's cabinet, wrote about four types of responses to what we are facing in a Trump presidency.    Here it is in condensed form.   I think I have had all four syndromes myself at various times.

1. Normalizer Syndrome. You want to believe Trump will appoint good people to advise him and that he will listen to them.   That is, it won't be as bad as some people fear.   He will rise to the occasion and realize the seriousness of the responsibility he has undertaken.  Reich says that is "a grave delusion. Trump has a serious personality disorder and will pose a clear and present danger to America and the world."

2. Outrage Numbness Syndrome.  A person can be repeatedly outraged only so many times before they just become numb to it.   Every new bad thing he does just builds up that protective callous more and more.   "You can’t conceive that someone like this is becoming President of the United States, so you’ve shut down emotionally. Maybe you’ve even stopped reading the news."  Reich advises getting back in touch and reengaging with what's happening.

3. Cynical Syndrome. You’ve become so cynical about the whole system that you say the hell with it. Let Trump do his worst. How much worse can it get?  After all, this is America.   Reich says:  "You need to wake up. It can get a lot worse."

4. Helpless Syndrome.    Not quite like the denial stage in grief.   Reich says:  "You aren’t in denial. You know that nothing about this is normal; you haven’t become numb or stopped reading the news; you haven’t succumbed to cynicism. You desperately want to do something to prevent what’s about to occur.  But you don’t know what to do. You feel utterly powerless and immobilized."

Reich says that these (normalizing, numbing, cynicism, and feeling powerless) are "natural human responses to the gross absurdity and genuine peril posed by Trump."  But he wants to jolt us back into active resistance, saying that:  ". . . taking action – demonstrating, resisting, objecting, demanding, speaking truth, joining with others, making a ruckus, and never ceasing to fight Trump’s pending tyranny – will empower you. And with that power you will not only minimize the damage that is about to occur, but also get this nation and the world back on the course it must be on. . . .  We need you in the peaceful resistance army, starting January 20."

Yes, he's right.   But this verbal jolt wasn't quite enough to overcome my numbness and outrage fatigue or to give me much hope to overcome my cynical helplessness.    Maybe the Electoral College vote today will supply the electrical jolt.   But, even if so, what can be done that will actually be effective?

I'm still holding on to the slim hope that Michael Moore, who correctly predicted Trump's election, will also be right in his more recent prediction that he will resign before Inauguration Day.    And what makes that seem plausible is the possibility (1) that Trump might realize that he is going to have to give up too much of his business connections and (2) that he really doesn't want to have to work as hard as we expect our presidents to do.   

That fantasy is so fragile and slim now, however, it's nothing more than a gossamer thread of hope.   Is this really happening?


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