Defining reality away

We can’t define our way out of this. Magical thinking isn’t going to work. Judicious ignoring might work on the personal level for things like being able to sleep, but on the public level – we can neither pretend nor ignore our way out of this catastrophe. Just defining Trump as normal and equivalent to all the other candidates ever cannot possibly work because it’s a gross denial of reality.

This bit of political punditry from an Irish observer defines Trump as normal and equivalent to Clinton and Obama, with ludicrous results.

I hope that Donald Trump’s gracious acceptance speech, and his positive meeting with President Barack Obama, can begin to reverse the descent into the political gutter by both sides in the recent campaign, and can lead to what was impressed on candidate Trump by his opponents: the need for a constructive and peaceful transition of power.

During the campaign, two flawed candidates relied more on personal attacks on each other than on positively selling their own policies.

That’s just a stark denial of reality. It’s not what happened. It’s not true that “both sides” descended into the political gutter, and it’s not true that both candidates relied more on personal attacks on each other than on positively selling their own policies. It’s not true that the two were equivalent. I documented that ad nauseam over the past several weeks, so I won’t bother to do it again now. If you saw even a few minutes of a debate you know how absurd it is to say the two were equivalent.

[This problem] was cheer-led by the usual keyboard warriors who love engaging in online smear campaigns, exaggerating people’s actual flaws and engaging in guilt by extreme association.

What’s “extreme association”? Is that saying Trump is doing a bad thing by making Steve Bannon a top adviser? Well, sometimes that brand of guilt by association is indeed guilt. And if we’re rebuking smear campaigns, why not rebuke Trump’s smear campaigns? God knows he’s prolific with them. Remember his smear campaign against Alicia Machado? His taking to Twitter at 3 a.m. New York time to call her “disgusting” and cite a “sex tape” that doesn’t exist? Why is it “keyboard warriors” documenting Trump’s public insults who are the bad people here? Why is Trump no worse than Clinton while “the usual keyboard warriors” are dirty rotten scoundrels?

But the claims that Donald Trump is a fool or a fascist are as absurd as the claims that Hillary Clinton is a criminal or that Barack Obama founded ISIS. Whatever their flaws, all three of these people are intelligent, driven, successful, democratic people who are devoting significant parts of their lives to promoting what they believe to be best for their country and the wider world.

And I’m Marie of Romania.

That’s a real classic of defining reality as we’d like it to be. Cites facts not in evidence. There is not the ghost of a reason to think that Donald Trump is devoting a significant part of his life to promoting what he believes to be best for his country and the world. If that were what he’s doing, he would be doing it differently.

You can’t deal with a difficult reality if you define it out of existence before you start.

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