The country is in the throes of a major epidemic, with no known cure and some pretty scary symptoms. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS, and it’s rapidly spreading from the point of origin – the political class – to the population at large.
In the first stage of the disease, victims lose all sense of proportion. The president-elect’s every tweet provokes a firestorm, as if 140 characters were all it took to change the world.
Trump set up a single phone call with Taiwan’s president, and suddenly TDS patients were insisting that our “One China” policy was no more. But the reality is that telephonic communication isn’t the same thing as official diplomatic recognition. Besides, in their eagerness to highlight Trump’s alleged recklessness, the president-elect’s critics misunderstand our policy. “One China” means that we don’t recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country or China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. We’ve never considered Taiwan a mere province, and the Taiwan Relations Act obligates us to defend the island against attack.
The mid-level stages of TDS have a profound effect on the victim’s vocabulary: Sufferers speak a distinctive language consisting solely of hyperbole. Politico recently ran a piece that noted Trump’s supposedly unprecedented decision to continue using his private security force, which provoked former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin to tweet: “A predictable move for a kleptocratic authoritarian who wants to operate outside the bounds of law and basic ethical standards. Even more troubling, he may use the force’s lack of government oversight & presidential veneer to carry-out extralegal acts of force.”
It’s quite a stretch to suggest that a desire to keep trusted lieutenants is actually a sinister plot to create a version of the brownshirts, but such illogical leaps are the pathway to the next stage of TDS: a state of constant hysteria.
Especially when discussing Trump’s views on immigration, hysterical TDS victims assume there’s no difference between the president-elect’s rhetoric (get out!) and his proposed policy (deporting known criminals who are in this country illegally). As Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, put it: “He’s not calling for mass deportation. He said, ‘No, only people who have committed crimes.’ And then only until all of that is taken care of will we look at what we are going to do next.”
As TDS progresses, the afflicted lose the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. Despite Trump’s expressed desire to “work something out” for the so-called Dreamers – those brought here as very young children – Trump’s critics continue to harp on this issue. Immigration advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, who has a very bad case of TDS, inadvertently revealed this mind set when he said: “Before anyone falls into the trap of believing that Trump is ‘softening' on immigration, they should remember that we’ve seen this movie before.”
A movie, eh? In the advanced stages of the disease, the afflicted lose touch with reality. Opinion is unmoored from fact. Life resembles a dark fairy tale in which the villain – Trump – is an amalgam of all the worst tyrants in history, past and present, while the heroes — Trump’s critics — are akin to the resistance fighters of World War II.
TDS victims routinely compare Trump to Hitler: Time magazine ran an opinion piece that asked “Just how similar is Donald Trump to Hitler?” The answer: “The comparison between Hitler and Trump is so poignant” because “both men represent their personal character as the antidote to all social and political problems.”
Since Hitler has been dead for more than 70 years, though, victims may feel the need for a more potent bogeyman, a tyrant with more currency. And they’ve found one in Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they insist ordered a hacking campaign to help Trump win the election.
The other day, Tucker Carlson of Fox News interviewed TDS-riddled Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Carlson asked for evidence that Putin’s alleged machinations had any effect on the election. Unable to come up with a coherent answer, Schiff morphed into J. Edgar Hoover: “You’re carrying water for the Kremlin,” he said, “you’re going to have to move your show to ‘Russia Today.’”
If you ask a TDS victim what might help them feel better, they'll use the word “normalize.” As in, we mustn’t “normalize” Trump.
What they’re really saying is that normal means of dealing with him aren’t enough. Which raises the question: If he’s another Hitler, if he’s in league with Putin, then why is assassination out of the question? Poke a TDS victim and you'll find they don’t think that “solution” is out of the question at all.
This is the final stage of the TDS epidemic: violence against a democratically elected leader. Unless a cure for TDS is found, this is where we are headed.
Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com and the author of “Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.” He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.