What can we not live without, aside from physical basics like oxygen, food, clothing and shelter? If we don’t come to understand our surroundings, and where we fit in, there goes our psychic well-being. Bottom line: we depend on some sense of control over our lives, perceived or substantial. Not making trustworthy links between what is evident – and posit why something happened – opens up the world to confusion and absurdity, even chaos. Not getting the dynamics of the marauding tiger (or pandemic) means we won’t hide, flee or fight back. From toddler years on, we organize our lives by learning what actions lead to what results. As babies, we get quickly that making a ruckus gains us food, warmth, or safety. Humans are distinctive causation machines by evolutionary design.
Better late than never, I have nailed down Trump’s most insidious, intellectual infamy – and his crudest form of corruption: he wars against linkages between real-world outcomes and provable causes. That sends logic and reason fleeing, leaving evidence in the dust. That makes the desperate abandon what makes them human – the ability to think – and rush to trumpery, religious superstition, and paranoid conspiracies (bad storms and floods must be divine punishment). When villainous propagandists undermine the essential belief in causation, they disable brains by pushing “alternative facts” and out-sized chicanery.
That’s why lies, deception and trickery define Trump demagoguery, the foundation of his illegitimacy and proof of his defective and/or predatory faculties. Reason and logic are the only reliable instruments that explain why one (or more) causes produce direct consequences, whether structural racism, inequality, injustice or the tragic equation of poverty with the highest pandemic death tolls. Without the bridge of causation, we can’t ask or answer the paramount “why” questions, like why voters are now choosing between Trump autocracy or representative democracy – and its sacred foundation, majority rule expressed in fair elections. Warring against causation disables the ability to understand the choice – or protect ourselves from manipulation.
So Trump not only denigrates all evidence proving climate change, but debunks the thesis as a “hoax” (and naturally formulated by China). For this existential threat, the cumulative effects are not only scorned but demonized as a fraudulent conspiracy with thousands of cohorts. Thus do demagogues defy the causes of global warming (however complex) by stripping science of the credibility to prove the case. Trump can’t abide the message so he kills the messenger of reason – and the best, only method of proof one way or the other.
Cementing dishonesty with ignorance, Trump isn’t really challenging global warming but poisoning confidence in the only reliable measurement tools. Trump thus wars against both the idea as well as the evidence for causation – a nefarious (now knee-jerk) treachery that subverts how we understand, let alone control the world. Trump’s war feeds on his endless circus nonsense and corrupts gullible minds open to such crude gimmicks (no wonder so many are less educated, insular red necks).
Double hoaxes: climate and Covid
Ditto for debunking the undeniable pandemic surge. As long as Trump voters defy the most basic (high school) Germ Theory about a rampaging virus, Trump can claim anything, even the murderous lie the surge is ending, despite all evidence to the extreme contrary. By thus disabling brains from linking cause and effect, he can do the same with his other monumental failures on health care, immigration, infrastructure, job growth, the environment or foreign affairs. Unfitness withers without a smoke-screen, transforming a weakling bully into a phony strongman (sent packing we trust by a microbe). Likewise, Trump sustains his most infamous fiction – that he remains the lone, independent outsider, too rich to be swayed, who can still drain the swamp by dumping in truckloads of greedy alligators. One is simultaneously horrified and astounded he can still sustain the trickery, absent real world deliverables.
That’s why mask wearing was corrupted by and into propaganda, even actually blamed for spreading the disease. With absurdly claiming that mask-wearing violates one’s freedom, dim-witted demagoguery turns logic upside down: if you deny the unarguable effects, an exploding disease, then you must also denigrate scientific causes. Who needs trusted solutions to resolve a “non-existent” plague? To oppose masks is the ultimate irrationality unless we don’t care how many millions die before gaining that elusive “herd immunity.” Thus the war against causation, recklessness about super-spreader contagions and government-aided homicides. Trump no longer has to worry about getting away with shooting one victim on Fifth Avenue; he is so far getting away with callously upping national fatality totals. The price for denying causation (and blocking solutions) is very high, if reckoned by mounting dead bodies.
Reality: conditions for the average family (the overall effects) are worse now vs. 2016 – and negligent Trump at the tiller constitutes the main causes. Ditto, when Trump lies he only loses a “rigged” election, that assaults the logic that millions more voters disagree that he’s too “perfect” and too great to lose. Since the losing outcome cannot match his fantasies, the election must be rigged. Thus is corrupted causation – and with dire results when he refuses to accept losing. What logic says having no more than 45% deserves a majority win (talk about fraud!), even without10 the distortion of the Electoral College? Similar delusions apply to his gratuitous, irrational tariffs that for years have hurt U.S. farmers and manufacturers without gaining a pittance from China. Thus do wrong, unilateral non-solutions ignore real causes for trade problems, thus consequences are bad for everyone. Chaos rules because Trump divorces effect from cause and offers only political charades to allegedly make him look strong.
Death feeds on denying causation
When dire consequences are denied or manipulated, truth is the first victim, then trust vanishes. That’s why Trump must lie all the time: constant mendacity stops his marks from connecting the dots that explain more disease, more fatalities, more unemployment, more instability, more racist turmoil, plus the autocratic permission for police brutality and white supremacist terrorist violence. Enough Big Lies and gullible humans are disabled from making sense of the world. They then grab the first shiny brass ring.
Thus, to understand Trump Republicanism, forget the polls or the bad press. Forget the ultimate campaign lunacy of offending everyone but your knuckle-dragging white, non-college male base. Of course a twisted, malignant narcissist (able to infect his party) rallies his crowd to trust not the causal, rational brain but the lower reptilian orders in which fear, revenge, tribalism and hostility dominate.
As a result of this intellectual corruption, compounded by other excesses, Trump maximizes how badly he can disgrace the presidency without getting prematurely booted. Who knew how much malicious, indictable misconduct one deviant president can squeeze into one four-year term? With utter neutrality, we agree that infamy is Trump’s greatest innovation, if not revelation about holes in the system. And all begins for me by his reckless divorce of right causes from direct effects. If you abandon this link, you exile logic and reason, even history, up to now the modest restraints on our worst presidents.
And yet we have gained knowledge from disaster. Now we know the downsides of warring against causes and effects – for without this bridge there cannot be good solutions. Why, without confidence in causation, some may regress to conclude the Trump Terror was divine retribution for something terrible this nation did. But let’s not go there. First the majority needs to show it has learned hard lessons from epic failure, and this election should be a first step.