Trump as the Pathology of Empire and Healing the Wound of America

The first month of Trump in office unleashed chaos and turmoil with a series of executive orders threatening women’s reproductive rights, immigrants and sacred water guarded by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Trump’s presidency was a transition from a regime of secrecy to that of naked power. The legacy of Obama’s covert oppression is now being carried out by an emperor with no clothes, who lacks the level of intelligence and sophistication that his predecessor had in hiding the bloody claws and teeth of the U.S. Empire.

Trump’s executive order barring people of 7 predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States used Obama’s list of countries that he had previously selected. The deportation machine set in motion by this previous commander in chief had expelled over 2 million immigrants. It is now being used to block more victims, as Trump’s criminalization and ICE raids target immigrant communities. Also, the legacy of Obama, this Nobel Peace Prize winner who had bombed 7 countries and expanded the Bush era ‘War on Terror’ continues on with this new president. Obama’s signature policy of ubiquitous illegal drone attacks was used by Trump to kill the 8-year-old sister of a 16-year-old American in Yemen, who was a collateral drone strike victim from Obama’s kill list.

As the façade of democracy crumbles, at the same time, what is now being exposed is the pathology of our society – a kind of systemic psychopathy that has been locking people into a tunnel vision of American exceptionalism and an oligarchic government; of the hedge funds, by the lobbyists and for the transnational corporations.

Philosopher J. Krishnamuriti once said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” We have lost the sense of how ill this society has become It is as if our humanity is being genetically modified to deny our intrinsically altruistic attributes. Callous and self-serving actions toward one another have become the norm and many are numb to the injustice and oppression that is quickly blending into the everyday landscape of America.

A Nation of Insanity

American people have been broken with repeated abuse by an entitled minority who lie, cheat and advance selfish agendas that destroy lives of others without remorse. The transgression by elites violating constitutional boundaries and their managing down of people’s expectations has turned America from a nation of laws and democratic values into a nation of insanity with increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

For so long, we have been entangled in this political charade, trying to find a way out through a concocted ‘lesser evil’ strategic voting. The unrecognized oppression shuts down the imagination. During his presidential run, consumer advocate Ralph Nader related how labor organizer and socialist leader Eugene Debs was asked the question, “What’s your biggest regret?” to which Debs answered, “Under our Constitution, the American people can have almost everything they want… My biggest regret is they don’t seem to want very much…”

We are walking blindly with a wound that is invisible, with pain covered up so that we cannot feel it. Social predators inside society sniff our vulnerability and exploit it to control us. A sense of helplessness creates loathing and hatred, holding the population down. Even after the election was over, many were unable to break this addictive pattern of identity politics –a game that divides and conquers, with each being sucked into a reactionary loop of projected anger. Without understanding the roots of this hurt, our sense of defeat and desperation continues to keep us paralyzed. We remain a victim of our own trauma and are compelled to repeat the destructive actions, no matter how bad the outcome is.

Truth as Antidote

Iran’s leader recently thanked the President Trump for showing “the true face of the US”. Trump’s rise to power has now brought a kind of catharsis. Many of us are beginning to awaken to our unconscious adjustment to a deeply ill society and what has become terrifyingly normal. His blatant assaults on the rights of immigrants, minorities and women ripped the bandage off the illusion of democracy that hid the scathing wound of the nation. This pain that has now come to the surface brought us closer to our wound, which has always been there since the onset of this nation.

Canadian physician Garbor Maté, who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and trauma explains how “A trigger in the present will set off emotions that were programmed perhaps decades ago at a much more vulnerable time in the person’s life. What seems like a reaction to some present circumstance is, in fact, a reliving of past emotional experience.” ((Maté, G. (2010). In the realm of hungry ghosts: Close encounters with addiction. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, p. 366.))

What is the injury made to the American psyche that caused painful experiences and perpetuates suffering? With Trump’s slogan to “Make America great again” and his signing many executive orders, we begin to feel a wound that is still bleeding, inflicted upon all of humanity by the triumph of light-skinned men over others.

We begin to remember the violence that broke our intrinsic ties of kinship. We now can see the hypocrisy and lies that concealed the violation of Truths held to be self-evident at the foundation of this country. Ghosts of our ancestors haunt us; Natives who were murdered in the crimes of mass genocide and our sacred land and water destroyed in ecocide. We begin to hear the blues; the cries of Blacks who have been enslaved by the disease of White Supremacy and infiltrated by a virus of racism, imperialism and corporatism.

As the face of the new administration becomes clearer day by day, Trump in the White House is leading us to see America with its true face. This is not an idealized image of America as ‘Land of the free and home of the brave’, but is its deeply wounded and troubled beginning. At the same time, ideals that were laid in the foundation of this country still live as inspiration. Words in the Declaration of Independence read, “All men are created equal”. These words were truths upheld in the heart, yet remain just a promise. The constitutional crisis that we are facing now is perhaps calling for all to step in and fulfill this promise that has failed in many ways and continues to be betrayed by those who claim to represent us.

Insurgency of resistance is emerging nationwide with ordinary people standing up to uphold universal truth. Black lives matter. Lives of indigenous people and Muslims matter in the same way as whites or the privileged do. In the wake of Trump pressuring to cut funds in sanctuary cities, these cities expressed defiance by reaffirming their immigration policies. Recently, those defending immigrants won the first battle when the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate Trump’s ban. As the President signs order revising pipeline projects, Standing Rock water protectors vow to resist his executive order.

With deportation, destruction of environment and a burgeoning police state on the horizon, distress, rage and despair is spreading around the country. Yet, if we find strength to face and feel this pain that is rooted in the origin of this nation, it can guide us to the great power within ourselves that has always been there and we can heal this pathology of empire.

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is an essayist and author of WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate: History Is Happening (Libertarian Books, 2018). Find her on twitter @nozomimagine. Read other articles by Nozomi.