Epistemology and Trumpism

A friend recently quipped, “Get the behind me thoughts,” a play on the famous words of Jesus when under temptation from his nemesis said, “Get the behind me Satan.”  But the quip contains great wisdom for our thoughts are more powerful than we can ever imagine and, yes, are usually the way in which dark forces penetrate our reality. A New Age guru Mike Dooley quips, “Thoughts are things.  Choose the good ones.”  Dooley recognizes that we have the built-in capacity to take pause with the thoughts that flow through our mind and provide a “reality check” to them.  But it is easier to never question them and be merely carried along by the current of our ideological pre-conceptions without ever bothering to subject any of them to scrutiny.  Most of us do this in the subtleties of our heart, in our “pre-conscious” so that some things that pass through our mind to say are filtered out in the interest of social appropriateness and wisdom. Persons who have Tourette’s Syndrome demonstrate what happens when that filter is gravely impaired.

And Donald Trump gives us another example of someone with an impaired filter.  For example, having been taunted about the size of his penis by Senator Mark Rubio, Trump disregarded all decorum and propriety and reassured the American population that “there is no problem there.”  And Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of his book, “The Art of the Deal” has described Trump as not having a filter, having only a stream of consciousness reality and a penchant for saying things without any understanding of how they will appear to the public.  And with this impaired cognitive filter and his shoot-from-the hips style, Trump has routinely tossed ideas out which needed to be presented more thoughtfully or not at all.  But with this impaired judgment, he has appeared to his base as somebody who “tells it like it is” or “tells the truth” and is not like the more polished politician, “Crooked Hillary.”  Therefore, his speeches have been a font of red meat which has impassioned his base even to the point of hinting at violence should he not be elected.

Trump is the classic ideologue and is now the standard bearer for a political party which has at its base millions of people that fall into the same category.  They are ensconced in a morass of unquestioned assumptions, assumptions which are now under assault by the relentless grind of modernity. But their response, when threatened, is like that of Trump, merely to double down and shout their dogma even more loudly.  Ideologues are trapped inside a self-referential world consisting only of carefully selected ideas which buttress their preconceptions.  When they are subjected to a critical interview, they cannot handle it and often appear ridiculous in their response.  I have Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas in mind here.  But there are others.  .

But, I must issue a caveat in closing.  Most of my country and my world are concrete thinkers and if they suddenly were “enlightened” into a post-modern world, our entire world would immediately collapse!  The entire spectrum of human cognition has a place though at some point each vein of thought on either extreme, if unchecked, can easily cross into sheer lunacy.  And most concrete thinkers, and what Trump called “my uneducated voters”, are very good people and in a sense the backbone of any tribe.  I know.  I was raised in a culture of concrete thinking people and those people were very good people and I’m very grateful to them.  But what has happened in my country is that the economic and political elites have ruthlessly exploited this base of their party and have manipulated them into giving them their political support even while wielding the reins of the government for the primary purpose of amassing and concentrating power and wealth


2 thoughts on “Epistemology and Trumpism

  1. ladonna429

    Lewis, I think you are underestimating the anguish of the American People. There are a lot of us that wish we had other choices…. but what we have is a known (Hillary) who cares about (1) wealth for herself at any price – even the people of the USA and (2) perhaps her own family. Unfortunately our choices are between Trump (with all his faults) and a known person (with all her faults). I think the biggest problem with Hillary is that I do not truly believe she LOVES THE USA anymore. I really think she would sell us to the highest bidder at the first chance she gets.

    What you say about Trump is true in many ways…. but it takes someone with his $$$ (and paying for his own run for the Whitehouse) to even make a run …. and I also think he is brave to run against someone who seems to make men go to the next life a little sooner than planned. I have to admit….my stepfather has me well educated in conspiracy theories (big laugh here) I think our country is in dire trouble and I weep for us…..all the discouraged people that don’t know where to turn…..so we will jump at ANY CHANCE!!!!! Perhaps it is jumping from the frying pan into the fire…..but the rumor is that fire cleanses and we might have to dig and scrape….but being an American and living in the USA…I’ll take the chance. LMW

    Liked by 1 person

    1. literarylew Post author

      Deeply appreciate your honest response. Stick to the sentiments of your heart regardless. Deeply disagree with you but feel that going with your gut-level feelings is more important than anything.



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