Reflections

by Todd Walton, December 21, 2016

As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.

— H. L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1921

Since the election of Donald Trump, I have been haunted by aphorisms. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything is connected. There are no accidents. Life is but a dream.

More and more, as Trump’s inauguration approaches, I am reminded of the days following the election of George W. Bush. Okay, so George wasn’t technically elected the first time, but he was elected the second time. Remember? He won twice. His cabinet was a horror show. Yet so many people seem to have forgotten that, along with everything else that happened before last week.

Trump’s election is hardly unprecedented when it comes to electing narcissistic morons. Does the name Ronald Reagan ring a bell? And though he was not a moron, Bill Clinton would give any other narcissistic ruler in history a run for his or her money. Marie Antoinette may have said, “Let them eat cake,” but when Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA while dismantling Welfare, thus relegating millions to poverty, he essentially said, “Let them eat nothing.”

Oh but Trump is worse. Worse than what? The Obama administration, it is now revealed, subsidized dirty coal and dirty oil all over the world to the tune of several hundred billion dollars, yet Obama-wan calls himself the Environmentalist President. Reminds me of Trump calling himself a feminist.

But more interesting to me than our general forgetfulness and gullibility is the question posed by the Mencken quote at the beginning of this article: do these narcissists and liars and morons we keep electing represent the inner soul of the American people? Are we essentially a nation of dishonest narcissistic morons?

What is a narcissist? Narcissus, so says the myth from whence comes the term narcissist, became enamored of his own reflection to the exclusion of all else. He did not fall in love with his essence because he had none. He could only see and relate to his reflection—that which he appeared to be, not what he actually was

Narcissists are incapable of empathy because empathy requires an inner-self capable of bonding emotionally with others. And why would so many people in America repeatedly choose emotional ciphers to be our leaders, our lawmakers, and the stewards of our futures? Why would we choose people incapable of being kind and generous and thoughtful?

There must be something we, the general we, mistrust about genuine kindness and generosity and thoughtfulness; and there must be something we find attractive and reassuring about narcissists. And I think these tendencies begin very early in our American lives.

Do you remember the first time you realized that being smart and creative was appreciated by your teachers, but not by all of your peers? Do you remember seeing someone being teased for wearing glasses? Or maybe you were teased or bullied for being smart or wearing glasses.

In high school, I hung out with a gang of people who loved poetry and music and art. They were sensitive, thoughtful, empathetic, self-effacing, and appreciative of each other, while the general high school population looked upon them as strange and flawed and weak. As you may have guessed, none of them pursued careers in politics.

We, the general we, also do not like complex solutions to complex problems. Nor do we like complex explanations. We don’t really want to know the details. We are an impatient people. We want instant results, and if not results, then the promise of results. Or maybe we just want promises. Maybe because we were raised on promises, not results, we learned to value promises more than the fulfillment of promises. Trump promised to build a wall to rival the Great Wall of China. Now that is an amazing promise, one he will never keep. But maybe we like being amazed by impossible promises that can only come true using special effects in super hero science fiction fantasy movies.

Maybe we, the general we, no longer distinguish between reality and fantasy, between promises and the aftermaths of promises, between what people say and what people do. Maybe we choose narcissists to rule our country because they are not constrained by truth, and those who are constrained by truth seem weak and might wear glasses and listen to classical music and have complex explanations for why something will take more than a minute or two to fix.

Jimmy Carter, who was not a narcissist or a moron, told the nation we needed to start taking action to address the limits of natural resources. We needed to stop plundering and start regenerating. He talked about complex things, such as the interconnectedness of everything. Huh? This sounded strange and weak, so we replaced him with Ronald Reagan who said we could have anything we wanted without limits, that there was no reason to worry about the environment, that America was the strongest and the best in the world, so go for the gusto. Have it all.

And if you were poor and disadvantaged, that wasn’t Reagan’s fault. Just as nothing will ever be Trump’s fault and Trump will never be wrong, just as Bush and Clinton and Obama were never wrong. Narcissists are never wrong. They look in their mirrors and see knights in shining armor.

Then they stand before us and say, “I am a knight in shining armor. I’ll slay the dragon, build a giant wall, give everyone jobs, lower taxes, rebuild the infrastructure, and make you happy. I promise.”

And despite history and reality, many of us will believe those narcissists, over and over again. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe the tendency goes back a million years to some crucial moment when a big stupid narcissistic ape appeared to save the species, when our real savior was the little ape wearing glasses and writing a poem.

(Todd Walton’s web site is UnderTheTableBooks.com.)

17 Responses to Reflections

  1. Pat Kittle Reply

    December 21, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Mulling over the particular personality disorders of its puppets gives the goyim something with which to preoccupy themselves.

    But it’s the Israel lobby that runs the show. A grab-bag of examples…

    “World better not pry into how we decide to pull trigger on someone – ex-chief of Mossad”:
    — [ http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/12/19/world-better-not-pry-into-how-we-decide-to-pull-trigger-on-someone-ex-chief-of-mossad/ ]

    “Behind USS Liberty cover-up”:
    — [ https://consortiumnews.com/2014/11/12/behind-the-uss-liberty-cover-up/ ]

    “Likud Becomes a Regional Member of the European Parliament”:
    — [ http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/27/likud-becomes-a-regional-member-of-the-european-parliament/ ]

    9-11 — Israel did it:
    — [ https://wikispooks.com/wiki/9-11/Israel_did_it ]

  2. Rick Weddle Reply

    December 22, 2016 at 8:39 am

    re: Reflections…
    Good work, again, Mr. Walton! Thanks.

    re: response…
    Tepid equine feces.

    • Pat Kittle Reply

      December 22, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Uh-oh, we can’t criticize the Terrorist Theocracy of Eretz Israel!

      Sorry, I forgot!

      <:-(

      • Rick Weddle Reply

        December 22, 2016 at 6:11 pm

        My criticisms of the State of Israel, and those who support their warcrimes-as-policy, are many; amusing jump at a conclusion, though.

        • Pat Kittle Reply

          December 22, 2016 at 8:18 pm

          You said:

          “re: response…
          Tepid equine feces.”

          My comment was the only “response” when you posted that, so I assumed you were referring to it.

          Perhaps we agree that Israel’s war criminals don’t fear Iran nearly as much as they fear the truth being revealed about themselves.

          Regards.

  3. Harvey Reading Reply

    December 22, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Carter also got the deregulation mania started and began covert military involvement in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union which supported the elected president there. We found out how brilliant that move was on September 11, 2001, when our chicken, in the form of Osama bin Laden, came home to roost. Plus he was, and remains, too much of a Bible thumper for me.

    Humans by nature are narcissistic and authoritarian. A dead-end species.

  4. Mark Richey Reply

    December 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Our media inculcates this cult of the quick, easy solution, and teaches among other things disrespect for intellectualism First example that comes to mind is the Big Bank theory, but look at all the glorification of the CIA….

    And until fairly recently, hey, we COULD get away with ignoring the environment, could invade any country or overthrow its government without hindrance, domestic or foreign..

    Those who lack intelligence and empathy are systematically advanced to upper echelons of government or the military under our system.

    Our media and institutions can mold the outlooks and minds of many, if not most, people.

    Our government has for the moment failed in Aleppo, but after a demonizing of the Syrians and Russians, our media simply goes silent about Aleppo now, as if had never happened.

    When does it ever talk about the ongoing consequences of Agent Orange in Vietnam????

  5. Rick Weddle Reply

    December 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    re: Humans being ‘…narcissistic and authoritarian…’ by nature, and ‘A dead-end species’…

    Speak for yourself, please. We certainly, individually and in groups, can behave abominably, true enough. But the real haywire business started when we enlisted the assistance of our famous artifact, the Corporation. We thought flesh-and-blood royals were a pain in the ass! Cobbling together a mechanism solely for gain, specifically bereft of the pesky encumbrance of ‘sense,’ then turning the goddamned thing on and standing back, letting it out of control, was no work of genius. Whatever our native talents for disaster, we now don’t have to TRY to kill ourselves off…we’ve got Corpirate help up to here! Just try opposing them, and you’ll find out.
    All of which misses the point that there are lots of People…you have to know some…who live lightly on the Earth, attuned to the respect and prudence characteristic of successful cultures…unlike this one.

    • Harvey Reading Reply

      December 23, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Corporations were conceived by humans, to increase, and protect their wealth (and their ability to increase it) and power over others, thus improving their self-image. Any system of exchange of goods or services runs solely for gain, always has. One peddler always hopes to gain the advantage over another, corporation or not. The ‘winners’ feel good about themselves … an improvement in self-image.

      In truth, the species behaves abominably in most instances, always striving to achieve power over others and the improvement in self-image that outcome brings to the victor. The history of your own country is a prime example of that.

      I stand by my statement. Whether I speak for you or others is immaterial.

      • Rick Weddle Reply

        December 24, 2016 at 6:57 pm

        The species behaves abominably always, if you focus on what’s presented in the media and by politics; you would likely think that’s all the behaviors Humans engage in. My own experience is, there’s way more to Human activity ANYWAY than what’s grabbing for the microphones and foto-ops and extra firearms. Piles of folks who stop on the red, go on the green, look out for their neighborhood, and make it home with bacon regularly. And that ‘unsung’ portion is emphatically ALL of the population worth concern. Without them, the rest of this Expensive Crap would disappear like smoke. They seem now to be adversaries, spellbound by the Great Fake-Ass Election of 2016, arguing who’s ‘right.’ These ones united, should they entertain the wild hair to pull that off, would be pretty unstoppable. Kind of like the swell that rose around Bernie. It would come as a big disappointment to the Corpirates and the Hitlers,…but then even Marie Antoinette finally got the idea.

  6. Bruce McEwen Reply

    December 26, 2016 at 8:02 am

    I can’t for the life of me see what any of these comments has to do with Todd’s column. Some of them are so remote from the theme of the piece, that they mistakenly get entangled with each other. Does the mere mention of narcissism, perhaps, cause it to flower and bloom…?

  7. Rick Weddle Reply

    December 26, 2016 at 9:04 am

    re: Mr. Walton opening his piece with Mencken’s seeming prescient quote…
    The great Mencken saw Democracy’s political devolution to the Lowest Possible Denominator as inevitable as Gravity…if we just wait long enough, Trumpness will befall us all. I think this view is based on the assumption that the bigger part of a given populace (even this one) is flatline-inert and will remain so, no matter what. That may be.
    I say, ‘Maybe not.’ One thing our circumstance is definitely NOT, is a coin-toss; however this shakes out, it will be because some of us, in numbers, and in sober, concerted, determined effort, made it so.

  8. Jim Updegraff Reply

    December 26, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Bruce: it is narcissism.

  9. Bruce McEwen Reply

    December 26, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Not one of you common taters have even bothered — even after my admonishment — bothered to address Walnut’s premise: you just use it as a springboard to launch onto your hobbyhorse rigamarole.

    • Pat Kittle Reply

      December 27, 2016 at 10:46 am

      OK OK, Walnut’s [sic] right, our savior will be revealed as a [passive-aggressive] little poem-writing ape with glasses who ultimately phases out big stupid narcissistic overtly-aggressive apes who don’t write poems.

      Everyone knows that.

      Most urgently, narcissistic humanity ought to stop over-breeding for the sake of a 100 or so million other species but few unnarcissistic poets are dealing with that.

      (Launched in good faith from my hobbyhorse rigamarole springboard.)

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