Son Of A Trump!

Shades of authoritarianism seen in an interview with Eric Trump.

While researching another article, I came across an interview with Eric Trump, one of the many sons of Donald Trump that was taken by the One America Network. I watched the interview to get a better idea of who these people are. I wanted to see up close and personal, the people who claim to want to save the country from certain destruction by the bleeding heart liberals. I know people close to me who say that the Trumps are not evil and that they really, really, want to save the country, so I’m seeking to validate their claims.

According to Wikipedia, Eric Trump is “an American businessman, philanthropist, and former reality television personality. He is the third child and second son of President Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana Trump.” My impression is that Eric Trump and his family are wealthy beyond the dreams of most ordinary people. They are insulated from the people. They are insulated from the existential consequences of their mistakes. This is the first thing that I think of when I think of the Trump family.

Most of us have to walk, ride a bus, or drive a car to get around. We take certain risks when we go out. If we drive a car we carry insurance. If we get into an accident, we risk the near certainty of medical bankruptcy. Not so with the Trumps. Everything is insured. They have the money to pay for insurance without having to choose between eating and insurance. They don’t usually drive, someone drives them in a platoon of security. They had that platoon long before Donald Trump became president. They are insulated from existential risk.

This insulation from risk leads to a loss of empathy. As I watched the interview with Eric Trump, I could only see a man speaking in the abstract and in slogans. He has simplified the conflict between the liberals and the conservatives as a disagreement over who will save the country from sure destruction, and he says that sure as hell isn’t going to be the liberals. For if the liberals win, everything will be free and no one will work.

But there was one part of the interview that really caught my ear. It was when Eric said this about the protesters in places like Kenosha and Portland:

“If I ever acted the way some of these…anarchists are in some of these cities…my father and mother would have beaten the life out of me, they really would, they would have killed me.”

You know what? I believe Eric when he says this. I believe him when he says that he has at one time or another feared his father and mother. What I see in that statement is behavior modification. What is behavior modification according to from Wikipedia?

Behavior modification refers to behavior-change procedures that were employed during the 1970s and early 1980s. Based on methodological behaviorism, overt behavior was modified with presumed consequences, including artificial positive and negative reinforcement contingencies to increase desirable behavior, or administering positive and negative punishment and/or extinction to reduce problematic behavior. For the treatment of phobias, habituation and punishment were the basic principles used in flooding, a subcategory of desensitization.

To sum it up, punishment and reward. Behavior modification with kids is adult imposed solutions on the kids without any consultation from the kids. There is another word for that: authoritarianism. If you raise kids in an authoritarian fashion, you can expect an authoritarian style of government to rise from that kind of culture. We saw that in Nazi Germany. If we don’t get a clue about Trump and his family, we might see that here, too.

I really see the abusive behavior exhibited by the police and the rioters who have been burning buildings and looting as two sides of the same coin. They both arise from authoritarian parenting. People who believe in the use of force against others have been raised by parents who imposed their will upon their children unilaterally as a solution to challenging or unwanted behavior.

I see this as the ideology of Trump, too. Trump is telling us that people should be rewarded or punished according to their behavior. Trump is selling us a Skinner Box. That’s the entire message of his campaign and his presidency. We can save the country by dangling enough reward out there to keep people working, and for those who get out of line, we have free everything with mental institutions and prisons. And if you have enough money, you can skate for decades while presenting challenging behavior. Just ask Jeffrey Epstein and Charles Keating. They know.

I see the impulse to punish as self-evident in our media. Every action movie is a story of revenge. Most dramas are an unrelenting story of tit-for-tat. Most politics is about punishing the people who disagree with us rather than having an adult discussion of the facts and collaborating in earnest for durable, repeatable solutions. In most cases, neither side is listening or looking at the evidence that contradicts their point of view.

In authoritarian cultures, dissent is prohibited. In authoritarian cultures, disobedience is punished. In authoritarian cultures, conformity, loyalty, and obedience are rewarded. I see that all in the administration of the Trump presidency. I have seen suggestions of an extension of that kind of culture to the rest of America. They tell us that if we could just get those liberals to behave, we could all be happy, but I’m not so sure.

Write on.

Written by

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store