Gaslighting (or he keeps looking straight into the camera without blinking)

President* Trump,

I learned today that not everyone knows what “gaslighting” means so because it’s such an important weapon of yours I thought it would be a good idea to define it (and don’t worry, I know you know what it is so this isn’t for you):

gerund or present participle: gaslighting
manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

The classic example is when an abusive spouse degrades their partner’s belief in their own take on things to the point that they end up thinking they deserve the abuse, that it’s their fault, that if they just didn’t do X (or would just do Y), the abuse wouldn’t be happening. Sometimes it even gets to the point where the victim will take up for the abuser, explaining to concerned others that it’s really their fault, that they were late with dinner two nights in a row and it’s just a little bruise, not a big deal at all. It’s a terrific way to keep people off balance and questioning their own sanity. It’s a great way to control people.

Usually it’s a slow, deliberate process, introducing more and more small seeds of self-doubt over time. In other words, someone with abusive tendencies knows better than to knock the shit out of their would-be partner on the first date since that’s not something anyone can explain away. Really, such brutish moves are almost certainly relationship-ending (and they are likely to get the perpetrator serious prison time).

There are other insidious dynamics that come into play in long-term abusive relationships, but I think the main ways that political gaslighting like yours play out are as follows:

–> start with small “white” lies, small transgressions –> assess reactions –> adjust as needed
–> blow past concerns about the lies and transgressions while looking straight into the camera without blinking
–> get proxies to repeat the lies and transgressions looking straight into the camera without blinking
–> gradually ratchet up the absurdity and obviousness of the lies and transgressions while maintaining that one is stainless, blameless
–> ridicule and belittle those who question or challenge –> make their lives living hells if at all possible
–> cast blame elsewhere as often and as righteously as possible while looking straight into the camera without blinking
–> publicly reinforce/reward the faithful while looking straight into the camera without blinking
–> keep control of the narrative –> keep control of where the cameras are pointing –> make sure you’re the center of your victims’ universe
–> enjoy the fruits (spoils) of your labor –> mess with your devotees with dog whistles and bloody red meat for fun
–> periodically test whether anyone is getting out of line or is maybe snapping to –> if so, adjust as necessary
–> repeat indefinitely –> keep looking straight into the camera without blinking

May we be safe from abusive gaslighters.
May we be willing and able to trust ourselves.
May we be strong and forthright in speaking truth to power.
May we adamantly reject politicians who don’t blink.

Tracy Simpson

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