On September 14th, Bill Moyers conducted an interview with renowned psychiatrist Robert Lifton in regards to a soon-to-be-published (October 3, 2017) book that 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts contributed to entitled, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Lifton, who wrote the Forward, is the author of several books including The Nazi Doctors, which “was the first in-depth study of how medical professionals rationalized their participation in the Holocaust, from the early stages of the Hitler’s euthanasia project to extermination camps.”
I found the interview totally engrossing and wanted to share it with those of you who feel as I do about our “infamous” president. In particular, I wanted to point out one of the questions that Moyers asked … and Lifton answered. This part of the interview stood out to me primarily because I simply cannot understand HOW people can choose to elect a man as President of the United States that supports the principles addressed by Moyers in the following question:
Moyers: You bring up his base. Those true believers aren’t the only ones who voted for him. As we are talking, I keep thinking: Here we have a man who kept asking what’s the point of having thermonuclear weapons if we cannot use them; who advocates using torture or worse against our prisoners of war; who urged that five innocent young people here in New York, black young people, be given the death penalty for a sexual assault, even after it was proven someone else had committed the crime; who boasted about his ability to get away with sexually assaulting women because of his celebrity and power; who urged his followers at political rallies to punch protesters in the face and beat them so badly that they have to be taken out on stretchers; who suggested that maybe some of his followers might want to assassinate his political rival, Hillary Clinton, if she were elected president, or at the very least, throw her in prison; who believes he would not lose voters if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot someone. And over 63 million people voted to elect that man president!
Lifton, while admitting this as a “deeply troubling truth,” seemed to feel the people who voted for Trump weren’t thinking about any of these things …
What they were really responding to was a call for change, a sense that he was connecting with them in ways that others never had, that he would express and represent their interests, and that he would indeed make this country one dominated again by white people, in some cases white supremacists. But as you say, these people who embraced that narrative unquestioningly are a lesser minority than the ones who voted for him. And of course, he still didn’t win the popular vote. But it’s true — something has gone wrong with our democratic system in electing a man with all these characteristics that make up Donald Trump. Now we have to struggle to sustain the functional institutions of our democracy against his assault on them. I don’t think he’ll succeed in breaking them down, but he’s doing a lot of harm and it’ll take a lot of effort on the part of a lot of people to sustain them and to keep the democracy going, even in its faltering way.
I urge each of you to read the interview. It’s upsetting because there’s so little we can do. Oh sure. We can write our congresspeople and urge them to see this man for what he is, but as many of us know, none of them want to take the (possibly politically damaging) steps to remove (as one individual so aptly described) a “mentally deranged dotard.”