The Coddling of the American President: “Sacred Landslides” & Truth Decay in America, Part #1

The Coddling of the American President: “Sacred Landslides” & Truth Decay in America, Part #1 January 7, 2021

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

In the midst of one of the most upsetting television days in America since 9/11, as the utter disaster & desecration unfolded on the grounds of the US Capitol, symbolic of our nation’s democratic process: this is what our Leader had to say. Let that sink in for a moment.

(Several seconds transpire . . . .)

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If your household is anything like mine, you heard about the disaster, flipped on your TV, and sat there in wonder and horror watching the action unfold in real time. To repeat, here is the President’s bold-faced explanation: “These are the things and events that happen . . . ”  Or as some of my more enlightened students assure me: “it is what it is.”  He then turns to what must seem at this point like a line from either Kurt Vonnegut or Stephen Colbert: “a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots.” I’m sure this delusional statement will be making the rounds very soon on a TV station near you!  Must I unpack it for you, dear reader? Sorry I have better things to do with my morning. Suffice it to say, the “sacred landslide” part was sufficiently delicious to me, at this late date, that I have included it in my title above for its sheer and shameless nuttiness. The “sacred” part is sure to appeal to his religious and spiritual followers, of course. But does Trump even believe in such a thing as “the sacred”? Don’t ask me.  As for the “landslide” part: last I checked he lost by nearly 8 million votes. And VP Biden got the exact same number of electoral votes as Trump did in 2016: at which time Trump announced to the world that HE had won in a landslide. This tweet is thus an almost perfect instance of Orwellian double speak.

Evidently he posted this claim of a “sacred landslide” without irony: but as with all pathological liars, one wonders whether a] Trump actually believes this to be true; b] he knows it is false but does not care because it furthers his own agenda; or c] a little of both (if that is plausible). I actually have some pathological liars in my own experience, and I was never quite sure about which it was.  Just being honest here.

Now let’s think about one of the most important books of recent years, The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, and its relation to yesterday’s debacle. The relation comes down to a simple concept that has become deeply problematic in recent years in America: truth. This is a book, by the way, that every curious American should buy immediately and ingest: meaning, make it a part of yourself. Or as the late great Eugene Peterson might have put it: Eat this Book!

It turns out, as Haidt and Lukianoff show so brilliantly, we Americans seem to be having some problems with truth these days. As a university professor, this is not surprising.  But how did we get this way? By being “coddled”?

Let’s begin with a few quotes. As you read these, think about their connections with what we all witnessed in the last 2 days:

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”

Last night, Mitt Romney boiled all these sentiments down even further. As one of the most heroic Republican leaders in recent memory, he reminded everyone that he understood the huge disappointment of losing a presidential election, as he did in 2012 to Pres. Obama.  But, he invoked the word that kept coming up all day: “Americans are resilient.” But here is the highlight of his speech:

“The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership.”

Pres. Trump was simply NOT respecting the huge crowd of angry and upset protesters. How do I know? He was not telling them the truth.

Let’s start there, shall we??

In the coming days, I will expand on this brilliant book by Lukianoff and Haidt. So stay tuned!

 

Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

 

 

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