Trumpism as a Revelation of Evil
The mythic dimension of Trump’s inhumanity
On the surface, Trumpism is an anomalous combination of demagoguery and con artistry that metastasized at a high level of American society, beginning in 2016.
More specifically, a celebrity named Donald Trump exploited systemic American weaknesses, such as resentments arising from inequalities, disenfranchisement, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, and toxic religious fundamentalism, and he used his reality TV stardom to capture mass media attention and win the presidency. But because Trump was manifestly unfit for that office, he made a mess of everything.
So Trumpism is a story of how American society disgraced itself for four years, how a perfect cultural storm gathered, wreaked havoc, and perhaps will blow after with Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden in 2020.
But there’s a more profound side of Trumpism, a mythic significance of the events in question with which it’s harder to reconcile ourselves.
The Nature of Evil
The fuller meaning of Trumpism begins with the recognition that Donald Trump is evil. Just by entertaining that possibility, we’ve crossed the line of political correctness. We throw around the word “evil” in reference to murderers who are safely locked away in prison or to dictators like Adolph Hitler and Pol Pot who are likewise safely dead.
We might suspect Vladimir Putin is more crafty and pragmatic than evil or that Kim Jong-un is likewise more crazy or desperate than malevolent.
In either case, we don’t really know what we mean by “evil.” This is because the old meaning of the word was undermined by the world’s scientific disenchantment over the last few centuries. In short, evil used to be theological and it’s hard to take theological notions at face value anymore.
Nevertheless, the mythic, theological language captures the underlying force of evil, which invites us to get to the bottom of what evil really could be to have given rise to the religious myths and psychological defense mechanisms of mystification, demonization, scapegoating and the like.
Evil long predated organized religions and isn’t just murderous rage. Most murders in the US…