Morning After (the first presidential debate)


Hillary Clinton is not an inspiring speaker. To appreciate what she is saying, a person must think about it and not just feel it.

Donald Trump arouses affect, specifically the affects of fear, anger, and disgust. He drives people’s deeply felt but unacknowledged shame toward the response the psychiatrist Donald Nathanson named the “attack other” pole on his compass of shame reactions.

For this reason, Trump supporters are unlikely to be moved by the substance of what Hillary Clinton or anyone else is saying in this runup to the election of our next president. They are supporting Trump, not rationally, but emotionally. Like bigotry, Trump support is rooted in feelings and emotions – in affect. Twice I have read or heard people say, “We know he’s an ass, but . . . [I still support him]. Never before have I read or heard that type of support for a candidate for the presidency, and I believe only affective attachment can explain it.

Donald Trump arouses affect in people, mostly the negative affects of fear, anger-rage, and disgust, but last night’s debate made it clear to a person who remains unattached to him that he has nothing else working for him. He has no substance. He has never needed any. Trump is a con artist, and arousing affect is the con artist’s stock in trade, his one necessary skill. Truth is irrelevant. Follow-through is irrelevant because the con artist has no intention of following through on any promise. Expecting Trump to build the wall, revitalize the economy, clean up Washington, or make America great in any way is like expecting the supposed Nigerian princess to send you your inheritance after you have sent “her” your money.

Watching and listening to last night’s debate became, for me, like watching a stage magician while knowing how the magician does the tricks. The sleight of hand is no longer hidden, the distractions no longer distract, the impressions fail to impress. So, I was left watching a man my age behaving like a boor, a petulant child caught misbehaving but refusing to admit it. The only message remaining was that Donald J. Trump will keep telling us how great he is, desperately hoping we’ll believe him.

2 Comments on “Morning After (the first presidential debate)

  1. dave

    Very cogent. Correct analysis of Trump’s behavior. It is a witless mess. Thank you for this helpful approach to understanding what is going on with the Donald and his followers.

    1. Kate killebrew

      I read today from fact check that 80% of his comments were not true. What is happening to our country that people would still vote for him? Or scared me and reminds me of other times when countries blindly followed what they wanted to hear- true or not.

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