We are in a red alert situation. Like the Ebola Virus, Trump is tearing up the fabric of American society. Actually, he is worse than Ebola. Ebola eats at the flesh, but Trump is eating at America’s soul. This war for the soul of America is building to a terrifying possible outcome: the election of President Donald Trump. On Sept 21, 375 top scientists and 30 Noble Prize winners, including Stephen Hawking, warned in a signed, open letterthat a Trump presidency would have “severe and long-lasting” consequences, both for the planet and for the United States’ credibility.

When Trump first appeared on the scene in his red emperor’s power tie gambit, this warning from Carl Jung kept floating in the back of my mind:

“We know today that in the unconscious of every individual there are instinctive propensities or psychic systems charged with considerable tension. When they are helped in one way or another to break through into consciousness, and the latter has no opportunity to intercept them in higher forms, they sweep everything before them like a torrent and turn men into creatures for whom the word ‘beast’ is still too good to name. They can then only be called ‘devils.’ To evoke such phenomena in the masses, all that is needed is a few possessed persons, or only one. If this unconscious disposition should happen to be one which is common to the great majority of the nation, then a single one of these complex-ridden individuals, who at the same time sets himself up as a megaphone, is enough to precipitate a catastrophe.”

Anne Baring, in her marvelous book,The Dream of the Cosmos, which records Jung’s insight and explains it further in her section, “Demonizing the Enemy: the Manipulation of Shadow Projections”:

“Jung developed his ideas about the danger of the archetypal power of the shadow to overwhelm civilization in his essays on events in Germany. There he analyzed how negative projections onto others can develop and spread like a virus until they can contaminate a whole group or nation, causing it to fall into a psychosis, as in Nazi Germany or Maoist China. One of Jung’s most important realizations was that when we project evil onto others, particularly when we feel threatened, we may lose the possibility of insight and the ability to deal with evil, becoming very easily contaminated by it ourselves.”

Many politicians display egotistical personality distortions, some more than others. Trump, however, is of an entirely different order. Do we want a president accessing nuclear codes, shaping the Supreme Court for generations, and leading the world in extreme climate denial, who, in the eyes of many psychologists is a narcissistic sociopath/psychopath well accomplished in the art of gas lighting(which is when abusers undermine and distort the reality and truth of others’ perceptions and emotions in order to control or destroy them, i.e. Trump claiming victory for ending the birther myth he promoted for years by falsely shifting blame to Clinton)?

If you’ve ever been at the wrong end of such behavior, you will know it is devastating and hard to recover from. Psychopaths are masters of deflecting any responsibility for their destructive actions. They have no conscience and so they lie, manipulate, and demonize with impunity. The people they use (and people are only there for their use) are fooled into thinking the narcissist is a charming, funny person who actually cares. Victims are instead betrayed and left eviscerated as the narcissist moves onto the next “deal” without a backward glance. Psychopaths have an uncanny ability to read a person or group in order to pander to their fears and desires, but only for their personal advantage. They seem empathetic, but in actuality, they are as cold as ice.

Add acute narcissism and you have only self-interest. To Trump, you and everyone else is a “loser.” Narcissists readily default to intimidation and violence when challenged, even to the smallest degree. Trump only wants a mirror to reflect his unchecked childish grandiosity, and if he doesn’t like the reflection, he will shatter the glass. He will shatter America.

Clearly, Hilary Clinton doesn’t have a halo. She’s not my first choice – Bernie is. However, Clinton won the Democratic nomination, which Bernie conceded to. In Nate Silver’s commentary, he furthers this opinion based on his highly rated statistical calculations:

“My view is that the race wasn’t really all that close and that Sanders never really had that much of a chance at winning. From a purely horse-race standpoint, in fact, the media probably exaggerated the competitiveness of the race. But that’s not to diminish Sanders’ accomplishments in terms of what they mean for the Democratic Party after 2016.”

The nature of Clinton’s relationship to Wall Street and the corporate world requires transparency, and her hawkish tendencies need to be curtailed. But to give her credit, as Secretary of State, she helped broker a deal with Iran in order to avert a nuclear crisis. The following comment from her reveals the kind of strategic diplomacy needed in our inflammatory times:

“‘Diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection – it is the balancing of risk,” she said, according to The Economist, arguing that the risks of walking away from a deal that she helped shape would turn the United States, not Iran, into the international outlier.

Unlike Trump, with his catalogue of bankruptcies, dubious business deals, and lack of transparency in regards to his fraudulent foundation, which is under investigation for impropriety. And unlike hiscompromising debts,ties to Russia, dangerous fawning of Putin, and absent tax returns, Clinton’s tax returns and financial dealings are publicly available. Furthermore, innuendo about the Clinton Foundationfall flat before its “A” rating by the independent Charity Watch.Again, unlike Trump, she has a decades long successful career in public service, which is acknowledged by being voted the U.S.A.’s most admired womanin the world for the last 20 years.

Portraits of Trump and Clinton on a dark background.

It’s true, Clinton comes off as defensive, but who wouldn’t after decades and millions of dollars funneled into endless investigations perpetuated by a GOP witch-hunt, which have produced exactly nothing except endless conspiracy theories. Trump, on the other hand, seems only answerable to his gut and is a wild card his party can’t control. Hilary Clinton is guided by the Democratic party and a strong left-leaning contingent, largely inspired by Bernie, who already successfully lobbied an aggressive Democratic agenda for clean energy. The ubiquitous posts on Bernie social media sites that protest there’s not a dime of difference between the GOP and the DEMS is not true. There is a huge difference between the Obamas, Sanders, andWarrens, a true Robin Hood for our times, for example, and the likes of Pence who, like most all the GOP,opposes marriage equality, hate crime protections, and anti-discrimination measures and Gov. Matt Bevin who calls for blood in the event of a Clinton election.

Clinton’s Basket of Deplorables, a controversial statement, captures the shock at the swamp racism that Trump has inflamed and condoned. Yet, it is a partial truth. The whole uncomfortable truth is that Trump is the ultimate product of our collective ego-driven, racist, capitalist agenda that has no regard for the “left behind ones,” the environment, and for the resources of future generations. Trump is America’s shadow come to light. Trump represents, in so many ways, the last outpost of the heaving, screaming head pushing up out of the shifting sands of demographic change. His efforts are an attempt to hold power for the white supremacist patriarchy that feels threatened by our fast, changing world. Eventually, like the dinosaur, he and his kind will lose. The issue before us right now is not the evolutionary change in the wings, but how much damage the old order delivers in its death throes. That damage, just as Jung predicted, could be catastrophic.

Bernie is right. We need to be strategic. Trump has to be stopped. The dream dust imaginings that a Trump term will herald a full-scale progressive revolution is an extremely high-risk strategy with absolutely no guaranteed outcome. A lot can happen in four years – a lot of irreparable damage. In the year 2000, I sat in a cafe in Berkeley drinking tea with a lovely liberal couple a few weeks before the Gore-Bush election. They were voting their hearts and ethics they said, for Nader. I empathized, but my heart dropped, not for their ethics and heart, but for the truth of political realities. Sixteen years later, we’ve weathered a horrific display of wanton violence during an eye-watering “War on Terror” that has left the Middle East in ruins; 1.5 – 2 million Iraqi’s and Afghans dead, millions displaced throughout the region, thousands of American, British, and ally service men and women dead, thousands more wounded or who’ve taken their own lives, and trillions of dollars stolen and lost. We can only wonder at what could have been if not for the hanging chad and America’s loss of Al Gore’s integrity, intelligence, steadiness, and vision.

Actually, it’s hard to imagine there will be any kind of revolution while we still live in our comfort zones. Revolutions tend to happen under extreme oppression or if the vast majority are down to crusts of bread like the Russians and Chinese before their uprisings. Instead, the corporate squeeze drip-feeds enough comforts and distractions to sustain the illusion of contentment. So, the game plan for pushing American society into the extremity of a Trump presidency in the hope of radical change will cost someone, but probably not whites, the comfortable, and the privileged. It will cost marginalized communities, Native Americans, African Americans, Muslims, the recently won freedoms of the LGBT community, women and their reproductive rights, and probably the rest of the world. A Trump presidency also has the potential to irreparably exacerbate America’s deep divisions in service of an extreme nationalistic agenda, particularly as Trump continues to normalize and legitimize the use of hatred and violence for political ends.

Without a realistic political revolution within the next few weeks, the reality is that we have to strategically influence current political forces. There is simply a much better chance to continue momentum for the changes Bernie is advocating alongsidea Democratic, rather than a GOP, President, House, and Senate. Bernie built an extraordinary movement; and, in spite of not being the presidential nominee, he continues to be a powerful force for truth. In fact, it is likely that Bernie is a far better advocate for the revolutionary changes needed outside the office of the presidency. He is freer to be a political activist – an example is his support at the Rally in Washingtonfor the First Nation Tribes at Standing Rock who have come out in force against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

But his leadership cannot be effective if we don’t get behind him. Stopping Trump, and working to end the influence of corporate power and money in the political landscape is Bernie’s agenda. A vote for a third candidate will, at this point, help put Trump in power and will undoubtedly sink that agenda.

Essentially, the key difference between Trump-GOP and Clinton-DEM is this: Trump’s primary strategy is vilification of the “other.” That “other” starts with Mexicans, but very quickly becomes a noose around all dissenters. Right now, Trump wants to have the power to curtail the freedom of the press and the Internet. He does so for only one goal: to aggrandize and empower himself. Such a pathological mind harnessing the mega political and military force of the United States has the potential to catalyze a fascist state.

“Holocaust and genocide never, repeat never, happen without lies about an evil ‘other.’ A single human being may hurt or kill another human being. But in order to kill a hundred, a thousand, and certainly hundreds of thousands, the victims must be turned into something sub or non-human. … The demagogue never simply leads group A without systematically demonizing and often destroying group B. He justifies his fixation on ‘the enemy’ with all sorts of sophisticated rationales, including self-defense. But what marks that demagogue is that his leadership actually depends on, and is energized by, the existence of a hated ‘other.’” – Mark Gerzon – Leading Through Conflict

In contrast, the Democratic message “Stronger Together” understands that the bedrock and future of American society is in its diversity. It also means something that Clinton has spent her career advancing women’s rights. Her voting records show support for reproductive rights, equal pay, and paid family leave. She supports the disabled, veterans, civil rights, LGBT rights, and women’s health globally. She is smart, examines the details, and does not shirk complexity. Much of the vilification coming toward her in the endless “hate Clinton” posts on social media have the hallmarks of misogyny. If she pauses before answering, she is “manipulative and secretive.” If a man pauses, he is “thoughtful.” If she speaks passionately, she is “shrill.” If a man is passionate, he is “strong and principled.” The media has scrutinized Hilary Clinton over and over. That’s fair enough, it’s their job. What about the same treatment for Trump? Where are his tax returns? You hardly need a second glance to see that Trump and Clinton are simply miles apart in terms of their qualifications for the role of presidency. Trump is a bombastic, lying, conman. Clinton has been honed her whole life for the job.

This election process has dragged pretty much everyone into fear, hate, and confusion. As one of my New York friends would say, “It’s a hot mess.” It has sucked the air out of civil society. We now live in a post-truth media landscape,(thanks toKarl Rove), with a wild abandon of conspiracy theories fueled by shadowy Wall Street, Corporate, Political, and Military machinations. We have a daily howl of madness, and a shite storm spraying across the globe.

At the end of the day, the current political structures, while necessary to engage, aren’t going to birth the deeper changes we need. But right now,they are the task at hand. The revolution we need (not the revolution of chaos and the breakdown of functioning society, heightening the likelihood of violence and war), has to emerge from a deeper consciousness. It has to be informed by the insight that enlightenment is the intimacy of all things (Zen master Dogen). This whole hot mess drama is happening within one awareness. Clinton and Trump do not stand independent from our own collaborative intentions and actions, or from our own shadow drives for power and greed, and our hatred and propensity for delusion. They are our responsibility as we are theirs.

We live in extreme times where forces of divisiveness are so seductive. But, if we can hold to the deeper reality of a shared field of consciousness and relationship, where the interface between so called “internal” and “external” is a mutual happening; then, rather than our collective shadow running amok, vilifying, murdering, and plundering, we can own and transform it. This challenging yet necessary work will lessen the extremes of separative egoistical consciousness, which inexorably veers toward hate, hardness of heart, and paranoia. As a result, the revolution we absolutely need, currently being demonstrated at Standing Rock, will be propelled by evolutionary consciousness rather than a descent into primitive tribalism.

Meanwhile, whatever goes down on election day, and from now until then, may we continue to hold the whole hot mess with a mind of practice – to see into the deeper empty nature of phenomena, to not give rise to hatred, and to continue to extend compassion, kindness, and authenticity.

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Thanissara Mary Weinberg, originally from London, trained as a Buddhist nun in the Thai Forest School of Ajahn Chah for 12 years. She is co-director of a Non Profit, teacher and author, and currently works and lives between the U.S.A and South Africa.

 

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