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I’ll grant you this: we’ve not seen a president like Trump since the days of Richard Nixon. But is Trump just one in a million? Hardly.

Trump Chaos

You may know somebody like him—a family member, neighbor, friend, or colleague at work. Long before alternative reality and narrative truth became popular, Trump-like people held those views. They still do. And they have two things in common—a shtick full of shenanigans.

Shtick is an Anglicized version of the Yiddish word meaning act, a gimmick. The Old German, stῡcke, means “piece” – as in “a piece of work.” Sometimes a shtick borders on the comedic. Indeed, shtick often refers to a comedy routine. But Laurel and Hardy it’s not. These people are up to no good.

The Irish word, sionnachulghim, means “to play tricks, to be foxy” (sionnach or fox). But the behavior knows no international boundary. The Spanish, chanada, means “a trick or deceit.” German slang, schenigelei, refers to “a trick.”

The Anglicized version, shenanigan, was first used during the Gold Rush days of the late 1840s. It meant “funny business, trickery, intrigue, deception or fraud in business or civic dealings.” Today, it commonly means engaging in “a devious trick used especially for an underhanded purpose.”

Lies and mistruths? Prove it.

You accuse me? What you did is far worse.

Bully. Dodge. Misdirect.

Confuse. Obfuscate. Consternate.

Up is down. Down is up. Round and round it goes.

“There’s functionality in dysfunctionality,” a psychiatrist once told me. What you see as dysfunctional is quite functional for the other person. What’s more, if you get involved there’s a good chance it will turn you upside down.”

It’s bad enough when it comes from one person, but sometimes a cabal is at work. It took a colleague of mine over five years to clean up a work unit. None of those involved had an identical shtick—and the shenanigans were all different—but members of this cabal had figured out how to cover for each other.

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How could this kind of behavior enter The White House? We’d like to think that it couldn’t. Never! Filters will keep miscreants away.

Wishful thinking, isn’t it? So how did it happen? One reason gets underplayed.

How many American can relate to Obama or Reagan, Eisenhower or Lincoln? Not many. But how many can relate to Trump? A whole bunch.

How many American can relate to Obama or Reagan, Eisenhower or Lincoln? Not many. But how many can relate to Trump? A whole bunch.

Look around. They talk like him. They act like him. They believe like him. Trump is one of them, and they are like him. Worse yet, long after Trump is gone, as Steve Balto put it recently, “…/those who/….laugh at his antics and applaud his words won’t.”

It’s distressing is see Americans who don’t seem to care we have a president who—as The Washington Post (through its Fact Checker) reported recently—made nearly 840 false and misleading claims in the last 180 days.

That finding should shock the senses. No statesman-like behavior. No aplomb.

But as Naomi Klein wrote recently we shouldn’t be shocked:

“A state of shock is produced when a story is ruptured, when we have no idea what’s going on. But in so many ways, Trump is not a rupture at all, but rather the culmination—the logical end point—of a great many dangerous stories our culture has been telling for a very long time. That greed is good. That the market rules. That money is what matters in life. That white men are better than the rest. That the natural world is there for us to pillage. That the vulnerable deserve their fate, and the 1% deserve their golden towers. That anything public or commonly held is sinister and not worth protecting. That we are surrounded by danger and should only look after our own. That there is no alternative to any of this.”

“We should have been expecting him,” Klein concludes, because our society “functions within systems that are constantly telling us there are not enough resources for everyone to thrive, so we’d better elbow our way to the top, whatever the costs.”

Kill your inner Trump,” Klein advises. In Freudian terms that means controlling the gratification-generating Id; developing the morally-centered Super-Ego; and ensuring that the Ego doesn’t reek of personal approbation.

[dc]“L[/dc]ike some kind of Shakespearean villain-clown, Trump plays not to the gallery but to the pit. He is a Falstaff without the humour or the self-awareness, a cowardly, bullying Richard III without a clue,” The Guardian editorial staff wrote just a few days ago.

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Is it America of which they speak?

Frank Fear