Back to the question of what do with people who refuse to recognize change? This is common and produces a group of mildly eccentric folks who lock into an era and define themselves by that era until they become an embarrassment to family and friends. I’ve seen aging people who managed to retain the clothes and speech of the disco era. We all, dependent on age, my remember someone who achieved their greatest fame in high school football and years later are still wearing the clothes and still trying to live in that time. That is a literary stereotype. That stereotype suggests that they are not happy and are characters in some low key, small town tragedy. But I don’t know that. Perhaps some are happy and functional within their comfortable illusion.
There is a larger set of people who become fascinated with an era, study it, and join others in enactments. In American culture there are the civil ware reenactments fighting the historical battles each year in some sequence. Although I don’t know of any there are probably revolutionary war reenactors as costumes are very important to this. Medieval Europe with knights, swords, and jousts are, if anything, growing in popularity. This may be based on my own ignorance but I don’t seem to know of twentieth century wars exciting this type of re-living. The complete absence of anything other than boredom, horror, and death seems to have eliminated that century from re-enactment.
The Trump phenomenon could be the mass re-enactment of America in the 1950s complete with nuclear fear, racism, and misogyny. People will drive large cars and pretend to work at large industrial plants. That was the last decade that the majority of the population was functional without some form of college education. Industrial jobs did not require baccalaureate or graduate degrees as unpaid, internships do now. The public image of that era was censorship, McCarthyism against communists (foreigners) and ‘fellow travelers’. I’m surprised that term hasn’t reappeared. This was the birth of the John Birch society and the model was John Wayne, a gun carrying, racist, cowboy from New Jersey.
Having a mentally challenged, sociopathic, real estate salesman as the titular head of this enactment, fits perfectly. The only problem is that, for political purposes, they have been told it is real. These are people who are angry, frightened and have been fed on a steady diet of ever wilder conspiracy theories. They feel threatened by diversity and that paranoia is all that they have left. And, because this plays into the hands of the old power structure who are desperate to capture all capital wealth before the rules change, these people are the last tool of the old powers. There are just enough of them to create a level of havoc at a particularly critical point in this planet’s history.
This realization came to me in a series of short discussions stemming from articles on dealing with family members that support Trump. Something that is already spreading fear at historical levels pending family gatherings for Thanksgiving in the US. Sadly I suspect that for many families with that situation this may be the last “family Thanksgiving” some of those families will ever have. The discussions were centered on how to maintain relations with cherished family members that are caught up in the, for lack of a better word, insanity of this movement.
My own considered opinion is, unless you wish to maintain the relationship, don’t deal with them. They live, at least partially, in an imaginary world that is rigidly defined by their media that makes them immune to factual analysis or discussion of almost any kind. They will repeat their mantras and focus on a range of distorted or imaginary events that they have been told prove that their authority figure is delivering the return to the past that they desire.
But there was also the realization that a better approach may be to treat the Trump thing as cosplay. Maybe we could get them to dress their illusion: dark, baggy suites, narrow ties, and wide brimmed hats with the female role in wide skirts with petty coats (you may have to google that to see what I mean), and aprons. That way we would know what we are dealing with and could choose to play along or not. Maybe we trick these people into the diverse and virtual worlds that we are all migrating to rapidly. As come to understand the role of virtuality in our new complex reality we will understand that we can allow greater diversity by controlling the type of world in which people can play out their fantasies.
Who knows, maybe this is the answer to the question that hasn’t been asked. The social and political transformation we are going through is an explosion of diversity that is stressing these people into insane actions. We have a growing range of cosplay societies that define themselves and take up residence in urban areas,weekends, conferences, or as periodic roving groups. The contemporary world is increasingly virtual tied to social media and the ability to play the roles of our virtual lives allows release and creativity without destroying society. Yes, this is an evolution of clubs and gangs but with much of the group play online.
The Trumpsters don’t realize that they are enacting a fantasy so it is pathological. They are the portion of society that is most threatened by change and haven’t learned to play nicely. Maybe we need to help them learn to create their world without disrupting others. That is, after all, where we are going. Unfortunately the white supremacists who have taken over the Trumpster world cannot be allowed to play but the majority understands this so the white supremacist and nazi demonstrations are disrupted and must continue to be disrupted without violence. These people need to learn what is allowed and what is not. If we can keep violence under control the people, all of us, may be able to make this fantasy as harmless as a cosplay weekend.
Something to think about . . .