The Gaslighting of America

By Rer Isi Rer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.

Psychology Today, November 2017

And Donald Trump.

Most people have probably heard the term gaslighting and might have some idea that it was the title of a movie. It was, in fact, a 1938 play, later made into two movies, one in 1940 and one in 1944. The ’44 version with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman is probably the best know version. It is the story of a psychotic, manipulative husband who tries to convince his wife that she is going mad in order to seize control over her fortunes.

Here are the 11 of the tactics used by gaslighters to manipulate their victims, taken from the article mentioned above:

    They tell blatant lies.
    They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
    They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
    They wear you down over time.
    Their actions do not match their words.
    They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
    They know confusion weakens people.
    They project.
    They try to align people against you.
    They tell you or others that you are crazy.
    They tell you everyone else is a liar.

It is very hard to read that list and not think, “My god, that is Donald Trump.”

Upping His Gaslighting Game

Although he has been doing it since his inauguration, Tuesday Donald Trump made his boldest attempt to gaslight America. Despite all the video and audio evidence to the contrary, he told reporters (during his daily version of the Five O’Clock Follies) that he had always known how bad the coronavirus would be.

He was just being a “cheerleader” for America.

You’ll need to excuse my language, but this is pure, farm-quality, odoriferous BULLSHIT.

A “Potsie in the White House” as Joe Scarborough put it, alluding to the Happy Days character who was a high school cheer leader. America doesn’t need a “cheerleader.” It needs a leader who will be honest with the American people and give them the facts that they need to protect themselves and their families. But Trump is and has always been a cheerleader for only one entity – himself.

Trump was no more being a cheerleader for America than Nigel Farage championed Brexit because he only wanted to improve Britain’s National Health Service. It’s not necessary to recount the number of times Trump showed little or no care about Covid-19 in January or February, despite the tsunami of warnings aimed at the White House from a variety of sources, including his own advisers.

The point is that Trump is trying to gaslight America (with the help of right-wing media) into doubting what we saw and heard and only accepting his version of events.

Perhaps we saw this more clearly than ever this week when he attacked an inspector general for doing her job when she pointed out problems hospitals were having acquiring supplies, etc. If you don’t unquestioningly spout Trump’s versions of events, then you are a liar, not very good at your job or/and a member of the ‘Deep State.’

Fortunately, most Americans don’t seem to be buying his snake oil. While he enjoyed a small burst of support at first, that has flattened or decreased. While there is no doubt a group of people, the Trump cultists, who would believe him if he said the oceans had vanished overnight, it appears that other Americans trust their own eyes and ears rather than what Trump is telling them to believe.

Be assured, however, this will continue – probably long after Trump is voted out of office on November 3rd this year. As Trump turns down the gaslight a little more every day, he tries to convince us we are all going blind and mad and he is the only sane one left.

Don’t believe him.

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