Trump Derangement Syndrome

A crazy-making pejorative, in the extreme. Let’s flip it.

I have known about an absurd mental illness called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (TDS) for years now, but never really took it seriously. I didn’t take it seriously because it’s easy to see that the term is an insult to intelligent people who happen to disagree with many of the policy positions of President Donald Trump.

I have friends on Twitter imploring me to believe that TDS was invented as a sincere attempt to describe the range of negative responses to Donald Trump’s election observed since 2016. I responded by saying that the term is clearly used as a pejorative, an insult, to intelligent people who fail to see the good that Trump is doing for the country.

The red flags in the term are obvious. “Trump” as in dominating victorious person who “owns the Democrats”, that’s the first red flag. “Derangement” is the second red flag, intended to mean, “those guys are unhinged and can’t see reality”. “Syndrome” is just another euphemism for crazy. Sounds legit to me.

“Trump Derangement Syndrome” is inflammatory as in, “flame”, in social media because the intended effect is to discredit, minimize or ignore those people who are concerned that Trump is taking the country in the wrong direction. It’s another subtle “my way or the highway” message for those who might dare to disagree with Trump.

If there is anything sincere about the use of the term Trump Derangement Syndrome, it is the intent to ignore and discard anything that Trump’s opponents might have to say about him. In short, it’s not an element of sincere debate. According to Psychology Today Trump Derangement Syndrome:

  1. Has no scientific and peer-reviewed literature to describe it.
  2. It does not exist in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5).
  3. It is classified as a “folk category” of mental illnesses like “burnout”, “nervous breakdown” and “hysteria”.

Wikipedia has a very interesting description of TDS. Of all of the descriptions of TDS that I found in that article, there was only one that seemed appropriate:

The term has been used by journalists critical of Trump to call for restraint. Fareed Zakaria, who urged Americans to vote against Trump calling him a “cancer on American democracy”, argues that every Trump policy “cannot axiomatically be wrong, evil and dangerous”. Adam Gopnik, who takes a strong anti-Trump position, responded to these assertions that it is a “huge and even fatal mistake for liberals (and constitutional conservatives) to respond negatively to every Trump initiative, every Trump policy, and every Trump idea”. Arguing that Trump’s opponents must instead recognize that the real problem is “Deranged Trump Self-Delusion”, which Gopnik defined the “Syndrome” as President Trump’s “daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity”. (citations omitted)

The most pressing problem I see right now is not Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is the unquestioned loyalty to Trump as president, by people who don’t really know the man. I also doubt that many of Trump’s supporters have a clear understanding of the effects of Trump’s actions. To be fair, I’d say the same thing about anyone exhibiting unquestioned loyalty to a politician.

I happen to support Bernie Sanders, but I am not actually loyal to Bernie Sanders. I supported his campaign because I agree with his policy positions. If another person supported the same policy positions, I’d support that person, too. If Bernie Sanders changed his policy positions, I’d question those changes to see if I support them. But Bernie has been very consistent for 40 years now. Trump has not.

I would like to turn the definition of Trump Derangement Syndrome around and flip it. I agree that not every policy decision or initiative made by the Trump Administration is a bad thing. I am glad to see NASA finally getting decent funding. I’m glad that…hmmm. I’m having trouble thinking of anything else that I agree with Trump about. Oh, I heard that he wants to make health care pricing transparent, and I do appreciate that he has signed the relief bills that have been passed so far.

But has anyone really taken a close look at what they’ve been doing in those bills? You know, when I think of Trump, #MAGA, and all that, I think that he’s supposed to be in favor of free markets. I think that Trump would not have a problem seeing businesses fail if they made bad decisions. But that’s not what’s happening now.

How’s the stock market doing? Pretty good considering that nearly 39 million people are out of work now. According to Zillow, my home hasn’t depreciated much at all. Real estate and stocks are doing great in this environment. I got lucky by choosing to work in an industry (IT) with historically low unemployment. If you’re a doctor or a nurse, you’re never going to be out of work. Some of us are doing fine in this pandemic.

If you’re poor, if you’re renting, if you’re working in one of the many industries that have been shut down by the pandemic, you might get a few hundred bucks a week. If you’re a shareholder in one of those big businesses, today is your lucky day. The Fed has been working hard to print money to support you. If you own real estate, bingo! you’re in Trump’s favored industry. You can expect the Fed, and I mean the Federal Reserve Bank here, to send you a handout. If you’re a big business, you got most of the Paycheck Protection Loan money before the little guys could figure out how to fill out the forms online. Note that all that green is available with near-zero means-testing, oversight (they’ve been firing Inspector Generals everywhere), and disclosure about who got the money delayed until well after the election. How cool is that? Any complaints about that from Trump Supporters? I haven’t heard a peep yet.

At the Unz Review, they interviewed Michael Hudson, noted economist and historian, and author of numerous books on the history of economics. What did Hudson have to say about the bailouts?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Just think of when, in the debates with Bernie Sanders during the spring, Biden and Klobuchar kept saying, ‘What we’re paying for Medicare-for-All will be $1 trillion over 10 years.’ Well, here the Fed can create $1.5 trillion in one week just to buy stocks.

Why is it okay for the Fed to create $1.5 trillion to buy stocks to prevent rich people from losing on their stocks, when it’s not okay to print only $1 trillion to pay for free Medicare for the entire population? This is crazy!

The idea is that only the rich should be allowed to print money for themselves, but the government should not be allowed to print money for any public purpose, any social purpose — not for medicine, not for schools, not for personal budgets, not for full employment — but only to give to the 1 percent.

People hesitate to think that. They think, ‘It can’t possibly be this bad.’ But for those of us who have worked on Wall Street, for 60 years in my case, that’s what the numbers show.

But you don’t have the media talking about actual numbers. They talk about just words, and they use euphemisms. It’s a kind of Orwellian vocabulary, describing an inside-out world.

Here we have a 60-year veteran of the finance industry calling them out. Do Trump Supporters complain? No! We get #MAGA from them. Who among us remembers how Trump complained about the Fed when they raised interest rates back in 2018? I do. Do we hear Trump, Champion of the Free Market, complaining that the Fed is interfering in the free market by supporting asset prices with free money? I don’t hear him. Do we hear his supporters suddenly turn disappointed that Trump isn’t letting those big bad businesses fail? I haven’t seen it. He supported the last big bailout in 2008. Just ask the Club For Growth.

If I was looking for signs of Trump Derangement Syndrome, I’d start right there. I’d start with the denial about how Trump favors some over others. I’d start with Trump supporter denial that Trump says nothing about how much help his wealthy friends are getting from the Fed with a nudge and a wink, while millions of people wait in food lines. I’d start by questioning how it is that most investors have not been wiped out yet when 38 million people are out of work. That is a lot of lost demand. Who will make up that demand?

Will the wealthy suddenly spend money to support the economy? They’ve already bought their lear jets. They’ve already set up their secure compounds in undisclosed locations around the world. They’ve already left the rest of us behind. Except for Trump. He craves attention and he can’t have that if he’s 50 feet underground somewhere in New Zealand.

There is clearly denial on both sides of the aisle. Democrats are sincerely deluded into thinking that Biden is going to win. Even if he does win, I doubt that he will really crusade for the middle class like Bernie Sanders would have done. Trump Supporters are in denial in their beliefs that Trump really cares for the middle class. Sorry, folks. It ain’t there. Trump has made his money and he’s content to see the Fed print money for his friends. He doesn’t need us and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t really care about us. Trump Derangement Syndrome should be re-defined as the denial exhibited by his supporters of the fact that Trump is only in this for himself.

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