Mental Health Matters: What does Trump’s America have in store? (opinion)
Mental Health Matters
Dear Donald: Congratulations! You did it. President-elect Trump. And a fellow “New Yorka” to boot.
You should know that I predicted the possibility of you winning the election early on, way before others took your candidacy seriously.
Here, in part, is what I wrote in a 7/28/15 column, “Inside the Mind of Donald Trump, and America” — “Could it be that Mr. Trump is not just some blowhard, blathering buffoon, a grandstanding small-minded showman of little substance? … Trump comes along, all action, promising to clean up the mess right now … Americans love it — fist pumping promises of a more prosperous tomorrow wins every time.”
The Donald, “for all his bravado, is speaking to the average American in a language they understand and relate to, undermining the so-called serious politicians who usually dominate the media.”
I also wrote, in that same column, that narcissists like Mr. Trump don’t take kindly to losing, to a fall, to things not going their way.
As it turned out, this election season was perfect for your skill set — a relentless drive to win, a clear-eyed analysis of the public’s fears and discontent, a remarkable talent of vilifying those who displeased or disagreed with you, a warrior mentality to destroy those you perceived as your enemies.
You were able to see that mischievous slogans like “Crooked Hillary (and that Lock her up chant),” “The system is rigged,” and ”Make America Great Again,” which resounded with your energized followers and a significant number of fence-sitters.
I have to hand it to you; you understood that political theater, giving the audience a good show, sells tickets. You grasped the blood lust that lurks in the human heart, that the Roman Coliseum and now cage fighting arouse and enthrall a certain segment of the populous.
Even your deal-making talent worked in your favor — tell people what they want to hear, appear mesmerizingly confident, shift the risks and the blame onto others, push boundaries at least up to the legal limits. It all made you seem a sure winner.
Trouble is, competent governing in a democracy requires a different skill set, particularly in the United States, with the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.
If you’re serious about it, if you really want to be a President for “All the people,” as you now claim, you’ll need to find a way into the hearts of all the people who disagreed with you, and that’s a lot more than those who voted for you.
Let me be frank. I hope it matters to you. Your background does not inspire confidence that you either understand or care about entire segments of the population — immigrants, minorities, poor folks, the dispossessed, the infirm, drug users and the mentally ill, the “losers,” however you define them.
In the past, I have characterized you as reckless, with a thin skin, and a hair-trigger temper. Three marriages is a minor indictment, so are thousands of lawsuits against you over the years. And the women who characterized you as a misogynist. And then the accusations of racism and of anti-semitism. We’ll see what this all means as a Trump Administration takes shape.
I must tell you that some of your choices for critical administrative jobs don’t exactly inspire confidence that you plan to serve all the people. Exhibit 1: Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama for Attorney General.
I’m sure you know that the A.G. is in charge of the Department of Justice, perhaps the most powerful legal factory in the world with its 11,000 employees and $27 billion budget. He is Head of the Bureau of Prisons with 40,000 employees and responsibility for 200,000 inmates.
Talk about a champion for All the People; Senator Sessions voted to reduce legal immigration and will determine the fate of 740,000 migrants who came here as children and were granted the right to stay and work.
The A.G. oversees civil rights, yet the Senator voiced strong support for civil forfeiture laws, the government practice of seizing personal assets on the mere suspicion of a crime. And he’s against legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, intoning that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
The A.G. is charged with defending civil rights, yet Senator Sessions has voted against an attempt to end egregious, divisive, racially tinged mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent offenses.
I know it will require courage — courage to consider alternate points of view and alternate realities and courage to comfort those who suffer the most, the least amongst us, if you hope to be a President for all people.
I wish you well.
Incline Village resident Andrew Whyman, MD, is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.