Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Gaslighter in Chief

This has been a weird election year for me. I think, because I'm finally starting to really pay attention to my own issues, I've been pretty checked out. I didn't vote in the primary, didn't feel too pumped about any candidate, and haven't had many strong reactions one way or another since. 

However, I also haven't really gotten too worked up over Trump, either. From the time he started his campaign, it's seemed pretty ridiculous. I enjoyed watching him in the primary debates and I even wished him well as he tore roughshod through the political party he'd decided to co-opt. But even after he won the primary, I've never really been afraid. He just seemed so transparently ridiculous; I simply couldn't imagine people buying into him.

If I'm honest, though, I think I also avoid him because he reminds me so much of my dad. Watching the small portions of the debates I've seen has just been like watching my parents fighting. My mom, exasperated that she has to deal with a giant child pitching a fit while she (always, always) keeps her cool. My dad, paranoid, peevish, insulting, not caring who or what he harms in his pursuit of getting what he wants (whatever fantasy he's concocted to heal his inner pain this time). The 20 minutes I watched of the most recent debate were actually cathartic for me; it was like seeing someone stand up to my dad, unbending, showing him for what he is: a blustering, nonsensical manchildbully.

It's been hard though, as well. I dismiss Trump so easily, because taking him seriously is remembering what childhood was like. When I didn't have any idea that my father was who he was, when he was just My Father, and his petulance and his sensitivities and his bullying were all Appropriate Responses to Me instead of Him Having Issues. Imagine having Trump be all there was, all there's ever been. Imagine insulting Trump, even on accident, and having Trump pour hostile invective all over you. "Nasty woman" "nasty woman" "nasty woman." "Your mother's not a bad person, she just can't really care about anybody but herself. She and your grandfather have always hated me, since we got married." "And you're just like her, selfish. Only thinking of yourself. You don't really love me. You've never loved me. You're arrogant. And you're selfish. Selfish. Selfish."

You know it's not true. But he has you pinned down in your room. There is no salvation coming. You doubt. He might know. He's your dad, after all. Or you maybe you do know, but you also know the truth won't save you. Only agreeing with him will. Only giving him what he wants. Because he's bigger. Because he's louder. Because the wounded animal schtick works. Because you're trapped. Because he'll destroy you, he'll kill you if it means he can save his self-image.

I call Trump "The Gaslighter in Chief," because the truth doesn't matter. What he says doesn't matter. What he does doesn't matter. The truth is clay, molded to fit whatever helps him get through. And I laugh, and I laugh, and I laugh. Because I know him. I know a sadder, much less successful, much angrier, much more dangerous (to child-me) version of him. I laugh, because I've sat in front of that dictator, that madman ranting about how much better I think I am than him, how I think I'm smarter, how I don't have a use for him, how he'll show me, how, just give him a reason, and he'll show me, how, just react, just a hint of anger, just a little bit to give him some justification, and he'll show me. he'll show me. he'll show me.

I laugh because when the truth doesn't matter, nothing matters. When no one can protect you, because no one can penetrate his shields. When you all you can do is join the madness or be destroyed by it.

I'm not afraid of him. Of Trump, of my father. I'm not afraid. Because no one could take them seriously. Because they can't win. Because even if they do, they'll fail. Because they have to fail. Because they're ridiculous. Because he can't kill me. Because he can't hurt me. Because Because Because

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