“That’s It, We’re Through!”:
The Psychology of Breaking Up with Trump
As everyone has now noted (including the Lügenpresse, seething mit Schadenfreude) the “Alt Right” has abruptly turned against Trump in the wake of his attack on Syria. “More like ZOG emperor,” opined Greg Johnson in a Facebook post. “I guess Trump wasn’t ‘Putin’s puppet’ after all, he was just another deep state/Neo-Con puppet. I’m officially OFF the Trump train,” tweeted InfoWars’ Paul Joseph Watson. Richard Spencer issued a video titled “The Trump Betrayal.” Another of my Facebook friends wrote, “No one is coming; it’s up to us.” And Jack Donovan let loose with a barbaric yawp: “Your daddy emperor god king is just another puppet. Where’s your nationalist isolationism now?” These are but a few examples, of course.
Setting aside Mr. Donovan, who never supported Trump, there is a curious psychological dynamic going on in these reactions to Trump’s recent folly. I am tempted to characterize them as “overreactions,” but that’s really neither accurate nor fair. Trump’s folly is, after all, a really big one. Like some of you, I’ve been racking my brain trying to find some Machiavellian sense to make out of Trump’s decision to bomb Syria. Probably the best attempt to provide such a rationale (or is it rationalization?) has been made by Black Pigeon. However, Greg Johnson provides plausible counterarguments against the Pigeon’s case in his most recent essay.
At this point I am very reluctantly forced to conclude that this really is an epic blunder. All that remains is to comprehend what exactly led to it. Was Trump never sincere about “America First”? (I doubt that.) Is it really true that Ivanka talked her daddy into the bombing out of sympathy for the poor widdle children (likely victims of a false flag operation, and not of Assad at all)? Has Jared Wormtongue manipulated his father-in-law on behalf of ZOG? Plus: what will be the consequences of the attack? Possibly the most serious consequence has been pointed out by Greg: “Trump’s intervention in Syria is now being used as an argument to admit more Syrian refugees.”
So let’s just acknowledge that those on the True Right who supported Trump have very good reason to be pissed. Yet, in their responses, something else is going on. There is a real, palpable eagerness to denounce Trump on the part of these Right-wingers, who just a few weeks ago were falling at Trump’s feet, awash with optimism. It is not just that they were looking to be betrayed (let’s face it, we were all worried Trump would disappoint us). There’s more to it than that. There is a kind of gleefulness in my friends’ declarations that they are off the Trump train. What kind of weird psychological stuff is going on here?
Well, let us imagine the following scenario — which probably describes more than a few men of the Right. Imagine a man, call him Siegfried, who had a few disappointing relationships with women in the past, and has now been out of the game for a number of years. Tired of being hurt, he has deleted his match.com profile, regularly rebuffs attempts by friends and family to set him up “with a nice girl,” and can’t imagine himself, at this point, even setting foot in a singles bar. When the god Kama appears to Siegfried, distracting him from the important task of creating Kek memes, he banishes the god in five minutes by . . . ahem . . . surfing the Web. Gradually, he just detaches himself from the whole relationship thing and sees himself as a warrior-monk. Even the idea of love begins to seem remote; something he is now “over with.” Something that afflicts younger, less worldly people. Siegfried sees it in Schopenhauerean terms as nature’s trap. And he is more or less “happy,” in that he no longer has to deal with the “relationship crap” that plagues other people’s lives. Siegfried is no longer vulnerable.
Or so he thinks. For after a few years of this lonely detachment along comes a woman. Let us call her Brünnhilde. It doesn’t matter how they meet, but this girl seems to have everything. She’s Siegfried’s type (you know, pigtails, breastplate, etc.). She’s smart. She’s not into “pop culture.” She has good taste. She says she can’t stand “feminists.” She reads Counter-Currents. And, perhaps most importantly, she’s persistent with Siegfried. She sees his isolation, and ignores his self-protective attempts to frustrate her expressions of interest. After a while, his resistance melts, and they begin a relationship. Siegfried is “back in the game”: the serious game, the one about love.
And now all hell breaks loose inside Siegfried. He’s let Brünnhilde remove his armor and is vulnerable again. After every date he mentally reviews his behavior, convinced that he may have done something that will cause her to break up with him. This is so agonizing that he begins to detach himself from his feelings for her between dates, with the result that each time they get together he must work to overcome his initial reserve. He knows she is keenly aware of this — he can see it in her eyes. And this gives him fresh reason to worry. “When is she going to finally give up on me?” Siegfried thinks. He knows it’s coming, because he knows he is a hopeless, anti-social misanthrope who nobody could possibly live with.
When Brünnhilde journeys down the Rhine on business and is gone for a week, Siegfried is sure that while she is away she will “do some thinking.” And that as soon as he sees her on their next date he will feel that something has changed, and then he will hear the dreaded words, “Siegfried, we need to talk.” But nothing like this occurs. Soon he is forced to confront the fact that this woman genuinely cares for him. And then he realizes that, in fact, she is the only person who cares for him. So begin his morbid ruminations about her safety: “If she died, I would be all alone.” Oddly enough, he has to admit that just a few months prior he was happy being “all alone.” On the nights they do not see each other he worries about whether she has gotten home okay. So, he develops the habit of driving by her building at around 9:00 PM every night to make sure her car is there. Then he worries that she has seen him doing this (from the window of her first floor apartment). And this gives him new reason to worry.
Siegfried is madly, insanely in love. Something which he has a great deal of trouble admitting to himself — as if using the word “Love” would invoke the goddess and put him completely under her power, making him open to being squashed like the miserable bug he is. And he is very, very, very miserable. This love is pure torture. “Love at last!” says one part of him. “We’ve got to protect ourselves, buddy,” says another part. This part is very deeply entrenched, preferring the dark spaces of his soul, as it’s not pretty to look at.
And so comes the day that Brünnhilde inevitably disappoints him. I am not going to bother inventing a scenario (confession: as I don’t want to make my case vulnerable to the charge that “here the analogy breaks down”). Suffice it to say that it’s not the worst possible thing (which I suppose would be cheating on him with a black man). But Siegfried has good reason to be pissed with Brünnhilde. So he meets with her. On the drive over he is wrought up with an anger that feels oddly exhilarating. His thoughts race. He keeps rehearsing the break-up speech that he will give — for he has declared on hearing of her transgression, “That’s it!” And he feels strangely vindicated. Indeed, he knew it all along. He knew this was too good to be true. He knew he should not have allowed himself to become involved again, to become vulnerable. He wants to turn the clock back to his happy isolation and detachment. He wants an end to the emotional hell he has been putting himself through.
So he stands before Brünnhilde and delivers his speech. She simply looks astonished. And as Siegfried talks he notices that he is listening to himself, almost studying himself. The speech doesn’t sound like he thought it would when he practiced it in the car. He hears the perverse delight he is taking in ending this. And behind his words, he hears those years of hurt — hurt in relationships, and hurt in isolation and detachment and loneliness. He is “acting out,” as the shrinks say. But he is kind of on auto-pilot and the stuff keeps flowing out of his mouth. After a while the hurt look in Brünnhilde’s eyes disappears and is replaced by indignation. And then, worst of all, her eyes convey a flash of recognition. She seems to smile ever so slightly. Siegfried knows what Brünnhilde is thinking: “This guy’s crazy.” And he knows that she is right, and that this really is the end. Something in him wishes he could roll the tape back and erase his whole tirade. But something else (the shadow-dwelling thing) says that this is just weakness, and that he will be happier when it’s all over and he is alone once more. How did he ever allow himself to get tricked? Never again.
So, just in case you don’t get it: we spent years in isolation, having emotionally detached ourselves from the system and, really, from the country. We were happy and contented being against everyone and practically everything. There was serenity in believing that there was no hope. Hopelessness armored us against disappointment. We didn’t care that Clinton was President, or Bush. They were part of the same corrupt system, out of which no good could possibly come.
It didn’t even bother us when we got handed the First Black President. What do you expect from the Kali Yuga, anyway? We held out no hope for McCain (choke, gasp) or Romney. They had no purchase on our emotions, and for good reason. Did we stay up late to see who would win these elections? Of course not, we knew it didn’t matter. And that really was a beautiful arrangement: we could wake up the next day and feel untouched, whatever the outcome. And we could apply the same approach to virtually everything. For instance, I could watch my neighborhood go entirely brown and not get worked up about it. After all, the only hope is that everything gets worse and finally collapses, right?
We were contented in our hopelessness and detachment.
And this fucker Donald Trump has gone and ruined that. To be fair, we can’t blame Trump. Just as nobody makes you fall in love, you have to allow yourself to, so we allowed ourselves to get our hopes up about him. Just as the lonely monk-warrior secretly wants love, so we secretly wanted somebody we could believe in. Somebody who just might make things better. And so we allowed ourselves to come out of our hopelessness and detachment.
And now we are paying the emotional price. We have been paying it for months — really for most of us, more than a year. Once we allowed ourselves to like Trump (and he is eminently likeable), and to believe in him — to believe that he might actually do some of what he said he would do — we set ourselves on an emotional rollercoaster. Will the Republican establishment destroy him? With the MSM destroy him with fake (or real) scandals? Will he commit some terrible blunder? Will he prevail in the primaries? (I followed all the results.) Will he win the primaries but get cheated out of the nomination? Then, once he got the nomination, it all started over again: Will they destroy him . . .? Once he actually won the election we were all stumbling about in giddy disbelief.
And then our good mood became mixed with dark foreboding. There was talk about finding some way to nullify the election (“faithless electors,” etc.). There was all the Russia stuff — the genuinely disturbing mass hysteria. Once Trump was safely in office, he was really anything but safe. We watched as they doubled down on their attempts to destroy him. And something else nagged at us even more: will he actually follow through on his promises? Will he be “turned”? Have they already shown him the Zapruder film and told him “this could happen to you . . . or someone you love”?
My friends, we’ve been through — we are going through — an emotional ringer. This always happens to people who think they are out of the game and are fully detached. When they allow themselves to get their hopes up, they go WAY up. When they allow themselves to become vulnerable again, every blow doubles them over (for they haven’t felt what it’s like to be hit in a long, long time). In the last few weeks and months I have consciously caught myself wishing we could go back to business as usual — to a McCain or a Romney or a (God help us) Jeb. At least then I would not have to care. At least I could go back to being “detached.”
So is it at all surprising that we seize on this Syria business as an excuse to sever our emotional (and other) ties to Trump? Essentially, it’s an act of self-preservation. Hence the eagerness, the zeal with which our brethren have announced, “That’s it! We’re through!” Let me off this ride: I want to go back to how I was.
But we need to recognize that things have shifted in just the last two years. We are facing a radically new situation, one from which we cannot any longer detach ourselves. Whether Trump turns out to be a total failure or not, his election is a victory for nationalism. That’s the direction in which history is currently trending. We see the signs in Europe as well. Reality has news for you: there may just be hope after all. Things may not have to “totally collapse” for there to be positive change. And if you really believe the things you say you do, you have to care about this.
What this means is that, yes, you are going to be in for years of emotional hell. You will be in hell as you worry about whether Trump can make good on his promises. For although this Syria thing is a big, fat blunder, there’s still hope that something positive will come out of the Trump presidency. It’s far too early (and too silly, really) to break up with him at this point, using this one event as a pretext. You also will be in emotional hell as you watch the progress of the elections in France, and elsewhere. You will be in hell as you watch what happens in Sweden and hope that the Swedes will come to their senses. Ditto the Germans.
There is some hope, folks. But seeing this means that you are going to have to open yourselves up to the possibility of suffering and disappointment. That’s what a strong person does. Weak people shield themselves from suffering. Life is suffering, the Buddha said. But it’s also joy — and you can’t have one without the other. If you take no risks in committing yourself, whether in love or in politics, you will suffer no disappointments, but neither will you experience joy.
There are two kinds of people, somebody once said on the radio: the vulnerable, and the dead. Welcome back to the land of the living. I hope you stay, because our movement needs people who are alive and committed and ready to take risks, not people who are “detached” and emotionally dead.