August 28, 2015

Pope Francis and Donald Trump

I (like Peggy Noonan) continue to be fascinated by the Trump phenomenon.  I'm beginning to wonder whether there's been an evolution in public communication style.


Note the parallels between Trump andPope Francis.  Both don't care a lick what others think of them. Both feel totally free, unburdened by expectations, feeling they have nothing to lose. Both speak off-the-cuff at great length and give off the vibe of "authenticity" for that reason.  Both speak forcefully of things unpopular to great segments of the audience (while very popular with others). And both often sound bellicose and blunt.  

Of course the similarities quickly fade, since Francis presents humility and Trump presents pride, to start with. But it does say something that both Francis and Trump have struck such a nerve. It's perhaps a natural evolution towards spontaneity, a rebellion against computers. In this age of the computer, we desire most of all non-robots. And Francis and Trump are that.

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From National Review's Jim Geraghty:
Over on the home page, I look at the rush to find societal scapegoats for mass shootings on both the left and the right, and the possibility that this ignores the more proximate issue of individuals’ becoming “grievance collectors.”
There are disturbing ramifications if media discussions are indeed driving us to become a more grievance-minded society. Willard Gaylin, one of the world’s preeminent psychology professors, writes about the dangers of “grievance collecting” in his book Hatred: The Psychological Descent into Violence:

Grievance collecting is a step on the journey to a full-blown paranoid psychosis. A grievance collector will move from the passive assumption of deprivation and low expectancy common to most paranoid personalities to a more aggressive mode. He will not endure passively his deprived state; he will occupy himself with accumulating evidence of his misfortunes and locating the sources. Grievance collectors are distrustful and provocative, convinced that they are always taken advantage of and given less than their fair share. . . .

Underlying this philosophy is an undeviating comparative and competitive view of life. Everything is part of a zero-sum game. Deprivation can be felt in another person’s abundance of good fortune.

At the heart of the grievance collector’s worldview is that he is not responsible for the condition of his life; a vast conspiracy of malevolent individuals and forces is entirely at fault. There is always someone else to blame, and the Virginia shooter quickly finds ways to excuse his actions and deflect the responsibility to others.
A lot of people on the right will read that and say, “Ah-ha! A ‘grievance collector’ is exactly what liberals want people to be! That’s what they’re stirring up with their class warfare, their portrait of a relentlessly racist society, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ and so on!” Except this is not just a matter of politics, it’s a matter of personal worldview. Nobody can brainwash you into being angry at the world for slights and injustices, real or perceived. Everyone who embraces fury and resentment makes the choice to do so.

Also . . . is this really a phenomenon of the Left? Isn’t it fair to say the right side of the spectrum is more grievance-minded in 2015 than in, say, 1980 or 1988? Perhaps the reasons for anger are more legitimate -- illegal immigration, monstrous activities within Planned Parenthood’s walls, a deal that legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program . . .

1 comment:

Thomas D said...

As Sir Philip Sidney once counselled himself, "Look in thy heart and write," it would seem that Pope Francis and Mr Trump both look into their hearts and speak. The difference lies in the quality of the heart revealed by each man's utterances, and one can be forgiven for wondering if Mr Trump is indeed looking into his heart, or into his bile duct.

But yes, they do have that similarity of being resistant to "handling" and pre-packaging. Neither man is precisely what one would call bland!