I’ve seen my share of presidential campaigns and have been on both the winning and losing sides personally and in support of other candidates. I know the glow of excitement that lingers long after a successful campaign.
I also know the deep and burning frustration and disappointment of having to make a concession speech, or having to see your chosen candidate make a concession speech. after decisive returns are revealed.
I accept it
Each election will yield a winner and loser. I accept that. It doesn’t mean we have to like the results, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protest and resist the actions of the winner when we don’t agree with them.
While we accept the 2016 presidential election, this time feels different, and the feeling is not good!
Every day there is something new that gives cause for great concern.
Maybe I’m naïve or my expectations are too high! Maybe I just give my fellow citizens too much credit! Whatever the circumstance, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other Americans have the same dim view I have of the outcome of the presidential election and the new president, Donald Trump. ‘
I am fearful for the future of our country. I see the subtle autocratic manipulations that suggest movement to less individual freedom and to more dictatorial rule.
These feelings aren’t a recent phenomenon. They were not manufactured from a sense of anger or loss. They are the result of the dissonance between Trump’s campaign and post-election behaviors and the behaviors we have come to expect from candidates and eventual presidents.
I’m not alone
I have seen these same sentiments expressed by television pundits and citizens alike. Even some Trump supporters I know have begun to express a sense of “buyer’s remorse” because of voting for him.
One of the primary reasons for these feelings can be summed up in a simple statement, “Trump is a con man and a pathological liar!” We must remember that fact-checks of Trump’s campaign rhetoric found him to misrepresent facts at nearly a 7-in-10 rate. He has shown himself to possess an above-average mastery of the most sophisticated techniques of propaganda.
We must remember that the “con” in “con man” refers to confidence. Just as in advertising or propagandizing, confidence is built by appealing to the image of an individual’s self-interest or desire. This is accomplished with:
•Use of sensational generalities (“Make America great again”);
•Name-calling and labeling (appealing to negative imagery);
•Appeals to “common folk” and their values (“Drain the swamp”);
•Group identification (creating a sense of US versus THEM, i.e. promoting attacks at rallies);
•Information manipulation (endless flow of lies and misrepresentations coming from the Trump camp);
•Image manipulation (demonizing the opposition while creating the impression that “I am the only solution to your problems”).
Most will agree those are tools of psychological manipulation that are used by many politicians.
Some will try to convince you that Trump used them with overwhelming efficiency. (The popular vote disputes that.)
What is unsettling is that he continues to use them to sustain a combative nationalist sense of fear and paranoia. While continuing to feed us the pabulum of his “I am one of you” messaging, Trump has embraced an inner circle of racists, White nationalists, oligarchs, sexists and elitists who threaten any philosophy beyond their own self-interests.
Persons familiar with history understand that Trump’s ascendance mirrors those of other authoritarian dictators. The constant name-calling and demonization of opponents support the siege mentality. We must persist in our opposition because it should not feel this way.
Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org.