There is this disease going around. It was first noticed in 2016, but it has been growing in intensity. It is very contagious, and there doesn’t seem to be any cure. Primarily, it affects Dems and liberals, but others can be susceptible as well. I am speaking, of course, of TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME, aka TDS.
Of course, I am being somewhat facetious. To my knowledge, TDS is not classified, officially, as a mental illness by the medical community, but I and many other observers believe it is a real condition. In a recent article in “Psychology Today” Rob Whitley, PhD, places it in the “folk category of mental disorders that are considered real conditions by the general public, even though they are not recognized as such by [the medical community].” Whitley adds that Trump’s words and actions have often driven TDS sufferers to distorted, extreme and often irrational opinions, actions, emotions, and behaviors, such as seeking “safe” rooms, using “therapy dogs,” or attacking people in restaurants or theatres. We have observed all of these activities and others as well.
Incidentally, Whitley is not some far-out fringe character. He is the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. Furthermore, he is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the prestigious McGill University and has published over 100 papers on the field of social psychiatry.
Wikipedia defines TDS as a “neologism (a new word, phrase or expression that is in the process of entering into general usage) describing a reaction to President Trump by liberals, progressives, and ‘Never Trump’ neoconservatives who are said to respond to Trump’s statements and political actions irrationally and with little regard to Trump’s actual position or action taken.” Some TDS suffers have taken this a step further by denigrating his supporters as well.
I believe the term originated with the late Charles Krauthammer, a conservative political commentator and psychiatrist and frequent critic of Trump’s. The term was also applied by some to George W. Bush during his presidency, but to a lesser extent. It is also used by Trump supporters to describe irrational statements and actions by Trump critics.
Examples of TDS abound, to wit:
1. The entertainer, Madonna, while speaking at a protest march, stated she has thought “an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” I highly doubt she would actually do that or that she would even know how to do it, and she later said her comment was taken “wildly out of context.” But, the fact that she said it at all illustrates my point.
2. Actor Robert De Niro really became unhinged during a speech at the Tony Awards when he blurted out “First I wanna say, f**k Trump. It’s no longer down with Trump. It’s f**k Trump.” I ask you, is that rational?
3. Donny Deutsch, an advertising executive and frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” has described GOP ads as “racist” and “xenophobic,” and he described Trump supporters as “like Nazis.” Does he realize he is calling roughly half the country’s voters “Nazis.” He is showing his ignorance of what real Nazis were like. He could use a history lesson. Tell me that’s not TDS.
4. Rick Wilson, a GOP strategist but no fan of Mr. Trump’s has referred to Trump supporters derisively as “ten-tooth based rubes.” He should be banned for that inane comment, but he probably won’t be.
5. Tune in to “The View” almost any day and you will be treated to a TDS comment by Joy Behar or Whoopi Goldberg. Probably, they realize that the only reason anyone even watches the show is to see what inane anti-Trump commentary they will blurt out next.
The above examples are bad enough, but we also have elected politicians weighing in.
1. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has called Mr. Trump an “authoritarian, anti-immigrant racist strongman.” Moreover, he stated that Mr. Trump has “taken over the Republican Party much like Hitler took over in Germany.” For good measure, he went on to attack Trump supporters as “older, less educated, less prosperous and…[often] dying early…from alcoholism, drug overdoses, liver disease, or simply a broken heart.” Moreover, he has characterized Jewish settlers as “termites” and “vermin” and warned that the island of Guam would “tip over and capsize.” Another ignoramus who could use a lesson in history and civility.
2. During a speech before “MoveOn” newly elected Representative Rashida Tlaib (MI) blurted out “we’re going to impeach the motherf***er.” Classy. Tlaib, who is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, is also a strong opponent of the US giving aid to Israel and supports the abolition of ICE. Tlaib gives two for the price of one – a moron and a bigot. I wonder if the voters in her district are now suffering from “buyer’s remorse.”
3. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, needs to watch her rhetoric now that she is the most senior Dem and third in line for the presidency. I understand that she opposes the border wall, but she should not be calling it “immoral.” Does she realize that in doing so she is, by extension, labeling anyone who has a wall or is in favor of a wall immoral as well. That would include not only approximately half of the country’s voters who elected Mr. Trump to build one, but also the Pope, since the Vatican is protected by a wall. And, what about the thousands who live in gated communities surrounded by walls? Are they “immoral” too? I don’t know where Nancy lives, but it’s a safe bet that her home is protected by a barrier of some sort and/or 24X7 security.
4. Perhaps, the worst instance of TDS is this last one. A reporter named Katherine Timpf disclosed that a college student at the University of Arizona told her that as part of a course on the Holocaust her professor assigned her class to write a paper comparing President Trump’s policies to those of Nazi Germany. The clear implication was that there was an equivalence between the two. This, from a professor of history, who, obviously, should know better. If that isn’t TDS I don’t know what is.
Trump supporters have used the term as well, for example:
1. Senator Ted Cruz on “Fox and Friends” opined that “most of the media…have what I call Trump Derangement Syndrome where all they can do is attack the president all day long on the scandal of the day.”
2. Senator Rand Paul attributed the Dems’ fixation on “Russian collusion” to TDS.
3. Sean Hannity accused the “Washington Post” of TDS for blaming President Trump’s stance on climate change as being “complicit” in the various hurricanes that have been battering the country.
4. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has often wondered why President Trump’s critics have continually focused on negatives while refusing to acknowledge the booming economy.
5. President Trump, himself, has observed, correctly, that the Dems were in favor of a wall, and even approved funding for it, until he said he was, whereupon suddenly they became opposed to it. Classic TDS.
DHS comments and actions by private citizens and news commentators are bad enough, but the fact that elected officials could behave the way they have is downright scary. In particular, the comparisons to Hitler and Nazis should offend every decent person. They are a grave insult to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust (as well as those who managed to survive and their descendants).
How do some of these people get elected anyway. The sad fact of the matter is that many of them are not too bright. They exhibit a very sparse knowledge of history, economics, civility, and even common sense (which, as we know, is not “common” at all), and are devoid of empathy for those who espouse a legitimate difference of opinion on the issues. We see reaffirmation of this every day. It is downright embarrassing. As I have often said, they are good at only two things: getting elected, and getting re-elected. Sad, but true.
By the way, I predict that TDS will magically disappear in January, 2025. LOL.
“comparisons to Hitler and Nazis . . . are a grave insult to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust”
Ignoring, worse, justifying warning signs including inexplicable admiration for authoritarianism, xenophobia, dishonesty, disrespect for the press is a much graver insult.
Dismissing concerns about President Trump by name-calling – formerly, “haters,” and now “TDS,” is disrespectful, minimizes legitimate concerns and obviates healthy discussion.
I worry about your state of mind on the inevitable day when President Trump bestows his contempt on a group with which you identify. I’ve survived, sadder but wiser, my turn in that barrel (Gold Star family). Hope you do as well.
Just started reading your stuff. Great clarity of thought and writing. Thank you