A reader asks if I have any insights into the post-election hysteria, i.e., melting down and having to grieve because Hillary Clinton lost. And the assassination threats on social media. And the verbal, even physical, bullying of people suspected to have voted for Trump.
“Hysteria” is not an official psychiatric term or disorder. So let’s look the word up in the dictionary. Oxford’s dictionary defines hysteria as an exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, especially among a group of people: “the mass hysteria that characterizes the week before Christmas”.
Hysteria arises from profound anxiety. Kind of like the feeling of falling through space, helpless and hurtling toward inevitable death and destruction. It arises when an individual or group of people feel threatened to the point of losing everything. Consider the progressive point-of-view, the viewpoint represented by Hillary Clinton and her supporters. Progressivism means social engineering and activist government. It’s hard for those of us who don’t share that point-of-view to relate. But from this perspective, activist government — run by progressives, not by anyone else — is the only thing standing between a reasonable life and the kind of brutality or slaughter characterized by many governments throughout history.
It’s also the only thing standing between some unspecified environmental collapse or total and complete economic ruin. Progressives have faith in government, so long as it’s a government run by their kind of people. They really believe government is responsible for most (even all) of the economic and material progress we have. Given the importance of this responsibility, it’s imperative, in their eyes, that the government be run by people who share all of their core beliefs and attitudes. Given their premise that government provides most or all of what makes life worthwhile, their attitude (and some of the resulting hysteria post-election) actually makes a certain amount of psychological sense.
To the progressives, we avoid calamity only with the intervention of what they believe to be caring, compassionate, sensitive and unusually brilliant people who somehow keep things going. In their minds, Donald Trump represents hatred and hostility to all of their values. And now this man they view as a monster is in charge of “running society,” as if any government entity could (or should) ever actually do such a thing.
To many progressives and Democrats, it feels like a dictatorship merely to live among people they believe do not share their basic attitudes about group rights, taxes, environmentalist regulations, military policies, social programs and the like. The threat isn’t really racism, because there’s no evidence Donald Trump is a racist. He hasn’t attacked Hispanics, although he has attacked our immigration policies because he believes they’re irrational and unfair to existing citizens, including Hispanic citizens. He hasn’t attacked blacks, and more blacks voted for him — and fewer turned out for Hillary Clinton — than was the case four years ago when Obama ran against Mitt Romney. Trump’s highly critical of Islam, because that ideology’s staunchest spokespeople have called for ruthless, bloody Jihad against all things Western, especially America. When he puts down Islam, it’s a man-made, chosen ideology he’s after, not people for the color of their skin.
Despite all this, in the progressive mindset, Donald Trump is some kind of racist, white supremacist. If I believed Donald Trump to be 10 percent of how he’s portrayed in mainstream left-leaning media, I’d probably feel the same way. They haven’t taken the time to read other sources, and they haven’t even taken the time to listen to what Trump has to say, evaluating it critically, rationally and in context. I don’t see the evidence for how Trump is portrayed in these riots and protests. I have read his books, and I listened to all his major speeches during the campaign. There are things I like and dislike. But he’s no more of a racist than was Mitt Romney or John McCain. He’s basically a pragmatic fiscal conservative who leans right, and who many of us fear could change in a heartbeat. (That would be good news to progressives.) Most of all, he has a sense that America can and should be great again. Yes, that’s how a racist might talk, but so would a socialist or a progressive. From all the available evidence, Trump wants America great again so that it can be more of a land of liberty and economic prosperity. How to get there might be a question, but that’s what he wants, and that’s not what Obama or Hillary Clinton seemed to care about.
If someone you know or care about suffers from hysteria over the election, invite them to read Donald Trump’s books or watch some of his key speeches available on YouTube and elsewhere. Tell them you’re not trying to persuade them of anything, only to consider the possibility that reasonable people — about half the population — found reasons to elect him President.
It’s interesting to note we did not see this kind of hysteria after Obama was elected. People who didn’t want Obama elected president in 2008 and 2012 were every bit as unhappy as Hillary voters are today, believe me! We sucked it up and consoled ourselves in the knowledge that government is not everything, and if we end up having to oppose or fight the government to sustain our lives, so be it. But progressives are the ones who look to government as kind of a secular, urban religion to reassure them that the universe is a reasonable, benevolent and intelligent place. They need government for that. You see, that’s the whole problem with progressivism, as with every form of socialism and collectivism human beings have ever devised. The answer is not out there. It’s within ourselves, not in the group or the government. It always has been, and it always will be. The only government that helps us is the one guaranteed to protect and preserve our sovereignty over our lives, our individual rights, our property rights and, at least implicitly, our individualism.
Government should not be a religion. Yet to millions of people, it is. And right now, that’s much of the basis for all the hysteria, hurt, anger, rage and helplessness you see.
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