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  • Reverend James Squire

We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us

Many of us wonder how Trump’s base stays loyal to him in spite of accusations of sexual abuse and indictments. He has a high level of understanding of how to manipulate others and to remind people that life is about money and power. It is not about doing good for others and putting others first before his own needs. He is a narcissistic personality who has blended his personality with his political instincts. He continues to use a playbook that has held him in good stead throughout his life. It includes lie, never admit fault, bully, create distractions, sue, and repeat lies over and over until it becomes a truth in his and his followers’ minds. You have to get into Trump’s mindset to understand his actions.

He has the ability to create his own narrative in his own alternative universe. He and his fellow Republicans talk about the disaster that Biden’s policies have been without answering the reality question, “Tell me how!”. “Biden has weaponized the DOJ and FBI.” “Tell me how!” It is a grand jury of fellow Americans that found Trump guilty. There is a saying that the accuser points a finger at what others are doing when there are four fingers pointing back at the accuser. The best examples are DeSantis who accuses Biden of the weaponization of government when that has been his whole approach in Florida (think Disney), and Gym (I never saw anything when I was coaching wrestling and I didn’t respond to a subpoena) Jordan posits that “If Trump said that he cleared those documents, that is good enough for me.” He can’t be that dumb. McCarthy said, “It is all right to put the documents in a bathroom because there is a lock on the door.” Yes, Kevin, it is on the inside.

Trump makes use of group dynamics in shaping his diehard members. Those who follow him comment on his courage in handling all of these “witch hunts.” They confuse seeking chaos and attention in whatever form it takes for courage because he needs to fill up the inner void of self-worth that he has. Money, sex, and power haven’t done it. He wants the glamor not the work.

Keep in mind that the first ethical statement made by a child is, “It’s not fair.” Recently I had a friend who was fired from her a position because of downsizing. I was furious. She worked hard for many years. That is what Trump’s fans feel. It is no different from what I felt.

They feel that Trump is listening to their needs. When I am counseling someone and they feel that I am hearing their pain, they double down on the importance of our relationship. It is no different from what Trump’s fans feel. “He understands us.”

When the Eagles win, the fans go wild because in that moment we have won not just the team. It is no different for Trump’s base. Their emotional fate goes up and down with him. “They aren’t coming for me. They are coming for you.” I may feel inferior, but we are magnificent.

Whenever you say we, you have to say they. Trump’s fans feel that they are against his “enemies.” When I root for a team, I am doing the same thing, living and dying with each play.

When passion takes over our personality, reason leaves. Trump’s fans don’t see that they are the people that he has taken advantage of throughout his life refusing to pay his workers and grifting. Trump has given his followers a purpose which prior to their relationship with him, was a void in their lives. Now they feel the “purpose driven life.” All of us look for the “purpose driven life,” and are thrilled when we find it. Hopefully, ours is for the common good. His is not.

Trump has repeatedly lied. That repetition has become truth for his followers. Like the blind spot on an eye exam, they literally can’t see the truth no matter how often we point out the facts which we assume should change their loyalty.

Trump’s moral code is a lack of a moral code. There is literally nothing that he could do that would deflect their loyalty. Loyalty is a big deal to me and others and over the years I have been blinded to it by people who did wrong things that I didn’t see at the time. I have been betrayed and didn’t see it soon enough. Trump’s followers do the same thing. Everything that they get from him is more important than truth. What he gives them emotionally is like a food given to a starving man.

Trump has caused more damage to our nation than anyone I can identify. His followers are caught up with a desire to belong and to gain self-esteem. They are the two emotional foods that are needed by all humans. Trump gives them both. It is like “buy one and get one free.” Instead of making good intentioned people better, he makes bad intentioned people worse. That is why he keeps his poll numbers in front of his followers. Facts don’t change people. Emotions attached to facts do.

The cruel irony is that his base is the very people that he has grifted throughout his life.

Here is the tough part. We won’t get this divided political situation healed until we better understand what his followers need and want. They are off putting by their words and actions. Hillary Clinton defined them as “deplorables.” Bad move! Trump has a character disorder so he only understands “you do this and this will be your consequence.” His followers are seeing in him the mirage of a better life. We are in these desperate times of white supremacy, quest for money and power, antisemitism and racism, etc. because of the underlying classism that can clearly be seen in our nation, the haves and the have nots. Trump says, “I will drain the swamp. I alone can fix it.”

I tell my students that anger is based in expectation. Think of the last time that you were angry. I bet it was about a missed expectation by a person or situation. This is true for me. Whenever I am angry, I look for an expectation that was not met. So do Trump’s followers.

Trump’s followers are just like us. Remember the old saying by Pogo based on a comment made by Admiral Perry in 1813, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Our divisions in this country are not as much about facts as they are about the emotions attached to the facts. Sure, when dealing with Trump and his poll numbers, we will encounter those who will only respond to consequences. I believe that the majority of Trump’s followers need to be heard or championed. How do I know this? One of the great feelings for me is to counsel someone and to be present when they finally feel heard, not by their two ears but by “their third ear” that touches their heart, spirit, and soul. That is what Trump’s followers need. We should work on achieving that, common ground that transcends differences. Facts have never changed how a person feels.

Too much to expect? I have worked with people that others have given up on. We can do it! When one of the psychologists at EA asked me, “When are you going to give us someone easy to counsel, I would more often than not say, “Not going to happen but you can be the change that they need!

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