Channeling Freud: What do Trump haters want?

It was to Marie Bonaparte that Sigmund Freud remarked, "What does a woman want?"  

Freud had no answer to the "great question … despite [his] thirty years of research into the feminine soul." 

I've asked myself a similar question during this season of political dystopia: "What do NeverTrump protesters want?"

I have no answer.

Consider a recent Facebook post by an educated, forty-something, vehemently anti-Trump woman: "I'm afraid to know what's going to happen next in DC. I have no words."

"And he is getting away with everything."

Which presumably means passing the agenda Trump won with.  What did she expect?  

A sympathetic friend commented: "I don't consider him legitimate, he is just a criminal mob leader…. and mid-term elections should decimate pubs in Congress. His unpopularity means little of his agenda will be done."

By her reasoning, Trump's presidency is illegitimate because she considers him illegitimate, and midterm elections will decimate Republicans in Congress.  Fanciful thinking, considering that Republicans decimated Democrats in Congress in 2012 and 2016.

It's tempting to dismiss the naysayers with a pejorative backhand, but my better angels implore me to believe that Trump's adversaries are not malevolent, but misguided.  Despite (or because of) its members' sophistication, education, and upbringing, the anti-Trump effort is powered by volatile, irrational emotion unmoored by mature, deliberative reason.   

"Empathy" is the virtue du jour among today's progressives.  In his book Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom defines empathy as "the act of feeling what you believe other people feel – experiencing what they experience."

Mr. Bloom rejects the notion that empathy is the key to a kinder, more just society.  He calls empathy "a poor moral guide" because it "distorts our moral judgments."

Bloom contends that empathy often constricts one's ability to see the larger picture, or that harmful unintended consequences can flow from good intentions.  Progressives love to bask in the warmth of good intentions without regard for the results of their beneficent impulses, but self-satisfaction apart from calm, collaborative, pragmatic reason will not solve the problems that roil us.

Of course, some NeverTrumps aren't interested in solutions.  They viscerally hate Trump and all he represents and will not rest until he is gone.  While individual reasons may vary, all share the familiar ring of intellectual and/or moral superiority.

This faction resembles the child who throws a tantrum each time he doesn't get his way.  Donald Trump snatched victory from the jaws of the defeat Hillary supporters self-assuredly predicted, and they have been in high dudgeon since.  

Good-faith entreaties to "come, let us reason together" fuel the fire.  If asked, most protesters cannot not articulate reasons for their vitriol.  The best option for those on the receiving end is to disengage until the frenzy runs its course.

Recently, a woman's anti-Trump diatribe was momentarily interrupted when a casual listener quizzically interjected.  Had the speaker ever considered the possibility, the bystander asked, that if she is always right, mustn't it follow that her opponents are always wrong?  Does that make sense, she queried, or is it even possible?  

 Without missing a beat, the Clinton supporter dismissed the notion out of hand.

After months of watching and listening, I do know what the NeverTrump crowd doesn't want.

The truth.

It was to Marie Bonaparte that Sigmund Freud remarked, "What does a woman want?"  

Freud had no answer to the "great question … despite [his] thirty years of research into the feminine soul." 

I've asked myself a similar question during this season of political dystopia: "What do NeverTrump protesters want?"

I have no answer.

Consider a recent Facebook post by an educated, forty-something, vehemently anti-Trump woman: "I'm afraid to know what's going to happen next in DC. I have no words."

"And he is getting away with everything."

Which presumably means passing the agenda Trump won with.  What did she expect?  

A sympathetic friend commented: "I don't consider him legitimate, he is just a criminal mob leader…. and mid-term elections should decimate pubs in Congress. His unpopularity means little of his agenda will be done."

By her reasoning, Trump's presidency is illegitimate because she considers him illegitimate, and midterm elections will decimate Republicans in Congress.  Fanciful thinking, considering that Republicans decimated Democrats in Congress in 2012 and 2016.

It's tempting to dismiss the naysayers with a pejorative backhand, but my better angels implore me to believe that Trump's adversaries are not malevolent, but misguided.  Despite (or because of) its members' sophistication, education, and upbringing, the anti-Trump effort is powered by volatile, irrational emotion unmoored by mature, deliberative reason.   

"Empathy" is the virtue du jour among today's progressives.  In his book Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom defines empathy as "the act of feeling what you believe other people feel – experiencing what they experience."

Mr. Bloom rejects the notion that empathy is the key to a kinder, more just society.  He calls empathy "a poor moral guide" because it "distorts our moral judgments."

Bloom contends that empathy often constricts one's ability to see the larger picture, or that harmful unintended consequences can flow from good intentions.  Progressives love to bask in the warmth of good intentions without regard for the results of their beneficent impulses, but self-satisfaction apart from calm, collaborative, pragmatic reason will not solve the problems that roil us.

Of course, some NeverTrumps aren't interested in solutions.  They viscerally hate Trump and all he represents and will not rest until he is gone.  While individual reasons may vary, all share the familiar ring of intellectual and/or moral superiority.

This faction resembles the child who throws a tantrum each time he doesn't get his way.  Donald Trump snatched victory from the jaws of the defeat Hillary supporters self-assuredly predicted, and they have been in high dudgeon since.  

Good-faith entreaties to "come, let us reason together" fuel the fire.  If asked, most protesters cannot not articulate reasons for their vitriol.  The best option for those on the receiving end is to disengage until the frenzy runs its course.

Recently, a woman's anti-Trump diatribe was momentarily interrupted when a casual listener quizzically interjected.  Had the speaker ever considered the possibility, the bystander asked, that if she is always right, mustn't it follow that her opponents are always wrong?  Does that make sense, she queried, or is it even possible?  

 Without missing a beat, the Clinton supporter dismissed the notion out of hand.

After months of watching and listening, I do know what the NeverTrump crowd doesn't want.

The truth.

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