The Cognitive Dissonance Surrounding Donald Trump
by Brandon Smith
In general, it has always been dangerous to put blind faith in human icons of any kind; not to mention, entirely unnecessary. The maxim that one “should never meet their heroes” is something far more people should take to heart when applying elevated status to political leaders in particular. Hero worship of a celebrity is unhealthy, but hero worship of a president can be truly dangerous.
Why? Because political power relies mostly on “human capital” — the number of people within a society that are willing to support or even fight for a particular change. Swaths of citizenry can be wielded by politicians with ill intent like a weapon to create the illusion of consensus and dramatic reversals in cultural principles. These changes usually tend to involve more control for government and less freedom for the public and can last for generations.
The cult of celebrity has never been more prominent in politics than it has the past decade. Starting with Barack Obama, something changed in the American view of presidential leadership. With Obama, there was an element of naive adoration that leftists largely embraced. Obama was more than a president — he was an idol.
Unfortunately, I am also seeing some of the same behavior in elements of the conservative population when it comes to Donald Trump. There are many reasons for this.
First, Trump is one of the few presidents that was already a celebrity before running for office. His notoriety went far beyond that of someone like Ronald Reagan, who did rank as a kind of known cultural element, but certainly not an icon or idol before becoming president.
Second, Trump rode the wave of a backlash movement against the far left, which is now by every definition fully invested in cultural Marxism if not economic Marxism.For many people, Trump represents the moment America was “saved” from imminent destruction by an insane ideology. In fact, I would say Trump’s popularity was directly proportional to the moderate public’s disgust with social justice fanatics; people who believe that sabotaging a culture from the inside, breaking it down through deliberate crisis and then replacing its core principles with their own, is an acceptable strategy.
Third, the election of 2016 was not about Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton – it was about traditional American values versus moral relativism. At least that was how many conservatives viewed it.
Some people may argue that Trump earned his election win by bravely taking on the establishment and the hard left when no other candidate would. This rebellion remains to be seen, but the notion is powerful and people take it personally. Trump cheerleaders react with disdain when any critical tone is applied to his behavior. In their mind, only evil leftists are critical of Trump, and if you are on the political right, then you better be toeing the line. If you are not with them, you are against them.
It’s funny; when I was writing analysis on the disturbing nature of the Bush administration, I was called a leftist. When I went after Barack Obama, I was called a “far-right extremist” and a potential racist. Now, when investigating Trump’s odd activities, I’m back to being accused of leftist antics again. I’ve magically come full circle. When it comes to political bias, reason takes a back seat to team-based psychology.
Trump’s win, of course, had nothing to do with his validity as a candidate nor did he create his own following. His following was prepackaged. The rage against social justice and leftist absurdity was already vast.Trump was simply used as a focal point for that rage and his rhetoric tapped into the conservative psyche. He said most of the right things during his campaign; whether he actually believes in those things is another matter…
So far, his track record is not so great. One of his most vital campaign promises which appealed to the largest portion of conservatives was the idea of “draining the swamp.” What is the swamp? Trump defined it himself by going after Hillary Clinton’s contingent of elitist allies from think tank cronies to Goldman Sachs banking ghouls. This is a perfect example where Trump rhetoric does not match reality.
By Trump’s own definition, he has actually added to “the swamp” rather than draining it. Trump’s cabinet is loaded with an ensemble of elitist freaks that should have been relegated to a carnival side show.
Goldman Sachs goons like Steve Mnuchin and James Donovan lurk the halls of the White House while other Goldman alumni like Gary Cohn seem to cycle through and are replaced with other equally unsettling characters like Larry Kudlow, a former adviser to the Clintons and John Podesta as well as an economist for the Federal Reserve bank. You have Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State and a rabid supporter of mass surveillance of the American people. There’s Gina Haspel, a CIA director wrapped up in numerous torture scandals. And let’s not forget about John Bolton, National Security Adviser, Council on Foreign Relation member and one of the chief architects behind the aggressive U.S. war policy in the Middle East since George W. Bush’s administration.
I could go on and on…
Obviously, the swamp will not be drained anytime soon, if ever. But cognitive dissonance on this issue reigns supreme. Even in the liberty movement there are those that argue that Trump is merely “playing 4-D chess,” and that his introduction of even more elites into his cabinet is somehow part of a grand scheme to “keep his enemies close.” The laughable nature of this delusion aside, the fact that some people are willing to stretch that far in their mental gymnastics to justify continued faith in Trump is a bit frightening.
I have also witnessed a growing and disturbing trend of leader worship when it comes to Trump’s pursuit of the international trade war. As I mentioned in my article ‘Trump Trade Wars A Perfect Smokescreen For A Market Crash’, tariffs are not inherently destructive and can actually be very effective in undercutting the imbalances created by globalism; they are a natural part of the conservative methodology. However, if implemented poorly, and without correct preparations, tariffs can destroy a nation’s economy.
With all the rah-rah and pom poms from the Trump devout, you would think that America’s economy is virtually invincible under his watch. I’m sorry to say that this is not the case. The fiscal instability of the US is still very much a “thing”, and nothing has improved under Trump. Given, he has not been in office very long, but most of our economic problems cannot be solved by any one president regardless of their time in office. Those problems stem from the power of the Federal Reserve to prop up or sabotage our system at will, and the ongoing presence of elitists within our government. Trump appears to have no intention of ever going after the Federal Reserve, and as mentioned earlier, he has invited a gang of elitists into the White House. Fiscal improvement is now impossible
Beyond the root cancer affecting our nation, Trump has not even taken the more rudimentary steps of giving corporations incentives to bring production back to America BEFORE attempting to enforce trade tariffs. With America’s dependency on foreign production as well as the elephant in the room – America’s dependency on foreign investment in our debt and the dollar as a world reserve currency, a drawn out trade war will eventually result in severe retaliation. This means extreme price inflation on most goods due to import dependency or possible scarcity, not to mention the dumping of US Treasury bonds, the end of the petrodollar and the dumping of the dollar in bilateral trade creating even more price inflation.
America looks rather hypocritical crying foul on unbalanced trade while we benefit from the greatest trade imbalance of all time – the world reserve currency. If you think that the dollar will not be a target in the trade war, then you are gravely mistaken.
I’ve heard all the naive arguments before as to why a negative trade war outcome is supposedly impossible and countered each of them in the article linked above. But, the pressure to support Trump without taking a skeptical position is high.
I would attribute this to what I consider a psychological game being played by the establishment. As stated earlier, Trump’s political success relies entirely on the existence of continued foreign and domestic threats. As long as foreign economies are seen as receiving unfair trade advantages, and as long as the left keeps acting insane, Trump will receive blind support from many conservatives. Rather than making his administration weaker, the “Russian collusion mania,” for example, only continues to strengthen Trump’s position.
The idea that the “Deep State” is after Trump is an illusion. On the contrary, without the perception that Trump is under constant attack, Trump becomes superfluous as a leader and conservatives will begin to question his decisions. The establishment actually helps Trump’s image by continuing the Russian farce, just as the constant (but weak) attacks by establishment controlled media made Trump a 24 hour news phenomena and propelled him into a new level of celebrity status during the election.
One could argue that perhaps the establishment is unaware of this dynamic. I think not. The manner in which they track social trends through web analytics is rather precise. Though I know it will twist the panties of quite a few people, I would suggest that the establishment PREFERS to have a Trump administration in place.
Look at it this way: Conservatives will cry foul for the remainder of Trump’s first term all based on the false premise that Trump is going to be “impeached” or sabotaged at any given moment. I remember all the claims before the election when I predicted a Trump win that the establishment would never allow him to enter the Oval Office. After his election, the same people argued that he would never make it to the inauguration. Now, they argue that the so-called deep state is going to try to bring Trump down before he reaches the end of his first term. And as long as Trump continues to stick around, there are those that argue that he is “defeating the deep state” with his magnificent strategic prowess. You see, the cognitive dissonance circle is infinite.
Few people appear to be considering the possibility that Trump is exactly where the establishment wants him to be; that the Trump administration is loaded with the very same swamp creatures he railed against during his campaign and that these elitists are the true power in the White House, not Trump.
Let me say this as clearly as possible — presidents do not matter. They do not matter in terms of any important change in American society. Those great changes are always made either by a contingent of free people fighting relentlessly for good, or by a contingent of power mongers manipulating the halls of government from behind the scenes. In the end, like most other presidents, Trump is irrelevant, unless you view him as a pied piper leading conservatives down a terrible path.
The danger of Trump, if followed blindly, is threefold.
First, the more conservatives tie themselves to his administration, the more they leave themselves vulnerable if and when his administration sinks into infamy. For example, the Federal Reserve has been avidly pulling the plug on its decade long artificial support of stocks and bond markets. Continued interest rate hikes and balance sheet cuts will ultimately crash those markets, and this will happen before the end of Trump’s first term if the Fed continues at its current pace.
Trump may very well be the next Hoover, as I have warned time and time again since his election. A conservative president presiding over an economic catastrophe that developed long before he ever entered office, but still blamed for the consequences. In the case of Trump, it will be conservative ideals and policies that are demonized most of all, leading to renewed public support for another FDR (i.e., another hardcore communist president).
Second, Trump’s trade war activities continue to provide perfect cover and distraction on a monthly basis for the Fed’s balance sheet dumps and interest rate hikes. Every time stocks drop dramatically, very few people blame the fed’s activities and all attention shifts to Trump. I see a narrative building already, one that hides all central bank guilt in the degradation of the economy. The more conservatives support a badly planned trade war, the more they will be seen as complicit in an economic crash that actually started over a decade ago.
Third, if Trump is meant to become a war hawk president as the introduction of John Bolton to his cabinet suggests, then conservatives may very well repeat the mistakes they made years ago when they fervently supported the Bush administration and the Iraq War. This time, though, America will not economically or philosophically survive another unjustified or ill-considered war. Not with Iran, North Korea or any other nation for that matter. Once again, true conservatives could have the tragedies produced by war wrapped around their necks if they do not apply critical thought to Trump as they do with most other issues.
And this is the solution to the problem. It is very simple; just treat Trump as you would any other politician, remove all bias and examine him under a microscope in the light of day. The more conservatives openly criticize Trump where it is warranted, the less the establishment is able to chain us to any disasters that happen under his watch. With the cabinet of grim elitist figures surrounding him from day to day, it is the only logical recourse.
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