Monthly Archives: March 2019

Managing Traumatic Trump Disorder

Just when it appears that Donald Trump’s behavior cannot get any worse, it plunges to a new low. The week of March 11 brought a fresh batch of Trump outrage. For those of us suffering from Traumatic Trump Disorder, it’s time to take new action to protect our mental health.

Most of us have had the experience of being in an abusive relationship. For example, a persistent problem with a toxic family member; or a romantic relationship that turns sour; or a sadistic boss or teacher. An abusive relationship weights on us, bring us down; it can produce depression, anxiety, a general feeling of powerlessness, irritability, as well as physical symptoms, such as insomnia. That’s what’s happening for those of us who are not Trump acolytes (roughly 57 percent of the electorate). We can’t avoid Trump’s malignancy; his abusive behavior is in our faces day after day, causing the political equivalent of PTSD — Traumatic Trump Disorder.

The week of May 11 began with the news of the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft; subsequent investigation revealed the culpability of the Trump Administration — Trump had cut corners for Boeing. Next the White House revealed their 2020 budget, which included massive cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. On Wednesday, Breitbart News Network published an interview with Donald, where he growled, “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” Friday brought news of a terrible shooting spree at New Zealand mosques; even thought the shooter shooter was a self-identified white supremacist, Trump minimized the role of the white supremacy movement in the surge of racial/religious violence. Finally, Trump spent the weekend in the White House, tweeting his frustration with the Mueller investigation, Fox News, Saturday Night Live, Joe Biden, and John McCain, among others.

Trump has become a daily nightmare. The combination of the Mueller investigation coupled with a new set of Congressional investigations led by House Democrats, has increased pressure on Trump and he’s responding with increasingly bizarre behavior. Until Donald leaves the White House, he’s going to be omnipresent on all the news outlets.

Trump is crazy. The most “followed” politician on social media, he’s decompensating in plain site. In the process, he’s infecting all Americans. Those who support Trump (39 percent) have developed a unique response; they’ve become moral relativists who say, “Trump doesn’t tell the truth and I can’t stand his tweets, but I support him because….” The rest of us are continuously bombarded with his malevolence, struggling to hold onto our sanity and our values.

What can be done to manage Traumatic Trump Disorder? Five suggestions:

Admit there is a problem: If you are in a relationship with a romantic partner that turns toxic, an important first step is to admit that it has failed. Often this involves recognition that you must make your own health a priority and that you cannot “fix” the other person.

If you are gaining weight or losing sleep or find yourself being irritable all the time, perhaps this is due to the background drone of Trump’s malfeasance. Obviously, you are not going to “fix” Trump. Admit you’re afflicted with Traumatic Trump Disorder.

Develop a plan of action: While an important first step is to acknowledge the problem, this must be followed by constructive action. This could take many forms: joining a therapy group, taking time to meditate, embarking on a new exercise regime, or joining a resistance group such as Indivisible. What’s common with all these alternatives is that you make your personal health a priority. (And resolve that you will not let Donald Trump bully you into passive submission.)

Practice self affirmation: One of the most important steps, when moving out of an abusive relationship, is to give yourself a daily pep talk, tell yourself that you can do this — you can make the changes necessary to manage your Trump Traumatic Disorder.

If you’ve ever had the experience of adopting a regimen to lose weight, you will be familiar with this process. Each day you go through the weight-loss regimen — such not eating dessert or refusing second helpings. At a regular time each day, you weigh yourself. And as you see the pounds slip away, you acknowledge your progress.

As you deal with Traumatic Trump Disorder, remind yourself that you regaining your health to save yourself and the country.

Set limits: An essential step in dealing with an abuser is setting limits. For example, saying to an abusive relative, “I will not allow you to yell at me and call me names.” (Or, “I will not allow you to physically threaten me.”) One of the problems with Trump supporters is that they are not able to set limits; from a moral perspective it makes no sense for them to say, “I don’t trust him or like his behavior but I think he’s doing a good job.”

How do we set limits with Donald Trump? By denying him air time.

Cut back on your use of social media. Restrict watching TV news or political talk shows. (Avoid Trump press conferences or speeches.) Donald’s a pertinacious abuser. The most effective way to deal with him is to not directly engage with his behavior. (There’s another positive side affect of restricting your use of social media: it reduces the amount of vitriol circulating in the public space — which, over time, will lower the level of rancor.)

Develop a support system: It’s easier to deal with Traumatic Trump Disorder with the support of friends. It’s therapeutic to be part of a group that registers new voters. Or that sings patriotic songs such as , “This land is your land.” Or that works to raise funds for a new community center.

A key element of Trump’s insanity is his insistence: “You’re on your own and only I can save you.” Reject this assertion. Replace it with the mantra: “The people united will never be divided.”

Resist. Reclaim your mental health. And save democracy.

Trump and the Economy

600 days before the 2020 presidential election, it looks like the two major issues will be Donald Trump and the U.S. economy. Of course, this could change if Trump leaves office or there is a cataclysmic climate event.  Otherwise, the election will be determined by voters’ feelings about Trump and, of course, how they view their economic prospects.

The latest polls ( indicate that 41.9 percent of voters approve of Trumps’ job performance — over the last 12 months this number has stayed in the approval range 38-43 percent.  Of course, not all of these Trump “supporters” approve of Trump’s behavior — a recent poll found that only 30 percent of respondents believed Trump to be “honest” (  Because I live on the Left Coast, I haven’t had many in depth conversations with Trump supporters, but those I have talked to said the same thing: “I don’t like the way Trump behaves, but his presidency has been good for me;” they thought they were making more money because of Trump.

That’s a remarkably widespread sentiment.  A recent Gallup poll ( ) found that 56 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s handling of the economy.  (This was his highest rating in the Gallup survey;  at the other end of the spectrum, 60 percent disapproved of Trump’s handling of corruption.)  This results highlights a discontinuity in public opinion: most Americans don’t believe the country is headed in the right direction but they are generally satisfied with the economy.

In 2020, will the U.S. economy help or hurt Trump?  To answer this question we should examine Trump’s economic campaign promises.

Jobs: During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised to create 25 million jobs over 10 years and to double economic growth to 4%.  According to Factcheck ( since Trump became President the economy has added 4.9 million jobs (as of January).  Trump promised that most of these would be manufacturing jobs but, as of January, only 436,000 manufacturing jobs have been created.  By the way, a recent Pro Publica article ( said that of 31 specific Trump claims about jobs, most were misleading.

An October CNBC report ( ) indicated that the majority of the new jobs are in the “mining and logging industry” (which includes oil and gas extraction), construction, and transportation.

While there has been an increase in jobs, most Americans have not seen an increase in wages.  Since Trump became President, wage growth has been tepid.  ( )  In the fourth quarter of 2018, wages grew at .2 percent.

Trump promised that economic growth would be at least 4 percent.  So far, Gross Domestic Product has reached this mark in only 1 of 8 quarters.  GDP growth was 3.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018 and 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter.  On February 26th, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell told the Senate Banking Committee the Fed, “[Expects] the U.S. economy to grow solidly but at a slower pace this year than the estimated 3 percent growth for 2018.”  Some economists have suggested that in 2020 the U.S. economy will be stagnant.

Prediction for 2020: The economy will slow, fewer jobs will be added, and wages will be static.

Taxes:  During the campaign, Trump promised massive tax cuts: “Everybody is getting a tax cut, especially the middle class.”  He did push through tax legislation but it favored the rich at the expense of everyone else.  The most recent Gallup Poll found that 52 percent of respondents disapproved of the way Trump has handled taxes.

Trump promised to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent; his “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” cut the corporate rate to 21 percent.  (By the way, under Trump, corporate profits have increased by 14 percent.)

The net effect of Trump’s tax plan has been to reduce federal income by $1.5 trillion per year.  This produced an increase in the national debt.

Debt: Trump promised to bring down the national debt: “We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt. … Well, I would say over a period of eight years.”  Instead, the national debt has grown to $22 billion (; increasing at the rate of $30 billion per month.

Not everyone feels that the growing national debt is a problem; certainly not the Republican Party, which — when Obama was President — moaned about the national debt but, under Trump, has gone silent on the subject.  Nonetheless, Fed Chairman Powell is concerned; he told the Senate Banking Committee: “Federal government debt is on an unsustainable path… I think that U.S. debt is fairly high as a level of (gross domestic product) and, much more importantly than that, it’s growing faster than GDP.”

A growing national debt is likely to produce an increase in interest rates.  It’s also going to affect Congressional appetite for big federal public-sector initiatives such as massive investment in infrastructure.  (During the campaign, Trump promised: “to invest $550 billion to ensure we can export our goods and move our people faster and safer.”)

Prediction for 2020: As the economy slows, the increasing national debt will affect interest rates, dragging down growth.

Trade: During the 2016 campaign, Trump portrayed himself as a master dealmaker who would revitalize existing trade relationships.  Trump’s promised to renegotiate trade deals such as NAFTA.  He’s done this but with uncertain results (NAFTA was replaced by USMCA — the US Mexico Canada Agreement — which has yet to be ratified.)

Trump also promised to to raise tariffs on imports; particularly those from China.  He’s done this.

Despite Trump’s efforts, the U.S. trade deficit has increased by more than 20 percent.  On March 6th, the Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit was the largest on record: $891 billion.  (Including a $419 billion trade deficit with China.)

Prediction for 2020: While the trade issue has an uncertain impact on the overall economy, it does affect public perception of Trump’s leadership.  The latest Gallup Poll indicates that 50 percent of respondents now disapprove of Trump’s handling of trade.

Summary: Heading into the 202 election, Donald Trump is asking his supporters to trust him, in general, and to believe in his economic leadership.  While some will continue to trust him with the passion of religious zealots, others will falter; they will react to a slowing economy and a cluster of negative economic trends.  Trump’s political base will erode.