Seth D. Norrholm

Here's why expulsion is the only remedy: Insurrectionists in Congress must be rooted out

"We fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

These were the words of then-President Donald Trump as he addressed a large, hostile crowd in front of the White House on Jan. 6, 2021.

It has now been more than a month since Trump and his congressional allies incited and supported the insurrection against our country's democracy. It was an attempt by a mob of violent seditionists to attack the Capitol and stop Congress from affirming the Electoral College victory of Joe Biden. This was planned and orchestrated by the sitting president with the hope that he could remain in power against the will of the people. Five people died. Dozens of police officers were injured. Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were in grave danger of being seized and murdered. It was an unimaginable and indescribable scene of terror. Many of the insurrectionists had tactical gear and communications equipment. They roamed the halls with zip ties hunting for Pence and Pelosi. They built gallows and chanted death threats. They beat a police officer with a pole bearing the U.S. flag. And let us not forget that President Trump chose not to intervene when the violence began. With the resources at his disposal, he easily and rapidly could have.

Never in our 245-year history has our democracy been actively sabotaged by a sitting president and his congressional sycophants. The events of Jan. 6, 2021 will be highlighted in all history books going forward. The insurrection of our election will never be forgotten. Its significance is on par with Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day).

Donald Trump was quickly impeached — for the second time — for his incitement of this insurrection. At this writing, he is about to stand trial in the Senate. He is refusing to testify. Trump's behavior in the insurrection is easily explained by his psychopathic personality and his unrelenting desire to remain in power, despite losing both the popular vote (for a second time) and the Electoral College vote. Those of us who are mental health professionals predicted his pathological and violent response to his election defeat. No one should be surprised by the depth of his crass, repugnant and anti-democratic behavior. After all, everything is about Trump — the welfare of the country and its people be damned.

The Republican Party has been complicit with Trump for four years and counting. It has enabledhis quest to obtain absolute authority, politicize the Justice Department in his behalf, grift the American people and break norms, rules and laws with impunity. Republicans have been walking side-by-side with Trump every step of the way during his march to transform democracy into his own brand of authoritarianism. The insurrection was to be Trump's final accomplishment in his mission. He failed — but it was a close call. It was a bungled coup attempt that matched the ineptness of his past four years in office. A more intelligent and capable man might have pulled it off.

It is unlikely that Republican senators will have the insight and courage to convict Trump during his impeachment trial. Their complicity will continue. Their support of Trump's insurrection is crystal clear. They have tried to distract us by saying we must "move on." They want us to deny the objective reality of their full-throated endorsement of Trump's self-serving conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him.

Congressional Republicans who supported Trump's overthrow of the democratic election must be rooted out. On the morning of the Capitol attack, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado tweeted, "Today is 1776."

Some congressional Republicans had reportedly given tours to the insurrectionists on Jan. 5. Eight Senators and 139 representatives supported at least one objection to the already-certified Electoral College vote. They promulgated false and fake conspiracy theories about how the election had been stolen from Trump, and cast their votes to support an authoritarian president who wanted to remain in power in defiance of the Constitution. Their entire scenario was a lie — the Big Lie — but they maintained their allegiance to their cult leader even though an insurrection against our government had occurred just the day before.

Sen. Ted Cruz supported the insurrection and actually engaged in fundraising during it. At least three newspapers in Texas have called for his resignation. Sen. Josh Hawley was in full support of Trump's efforts to remain in power despite the will of the people. He cheered on the mob attackers with the now indelible image of his raised clenched fist. Newspapers in Missouri are calling for his resignation. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has talked out of both sides of his mouth about Trump's role in the insurrection, and has refused to disavow the dangerous conspiracy theories about a stolen election. Sen. Lindsey Graham has voiced his disapproval of the impeachment of Trump for the insurrection. Sen. Ron Johnson is blaming Pelosi for the mob's actions. Rep. Matt Gaetz traveled to Wyoming to rile up supporters to punish Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican House whip, because she supported Trump's impeachment. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a newcomer to Congress, has been an outspoken supporter of Trump's efforts to remain in power. Rep. Mo Brooks has gone on the record to support Trump and his fake conspiracy theories about the election. The list goes on and on. But Congress, the media and historians need to do what has been started here: List the seditionists by name and call out their treachery.

Since the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Republican Party has degenerated and gravitated to the fringe of the extremists, showcased by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others. Their support of Trump is stronger and more irrational than ever — despite the fact that he has been defeated and disgraced.

There are some reasonable Republicans who have spoken out against Trump and the insurrectionists. Sens. Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Lisa Murkowski have led the way, yet their words have been drowned out by the loud voices of the Q party who are doubling down on their blatant lies and conspiracy theories.

We have just witnessed an attempted coup against our democratic election. If the insurrectionists had been successful, Donald Trump would still be in high office and our democracy would be in shambles. We would no longer have open and free elections. We would no longer have three branches of government, the rule of law and a free press. Lies, conspiracy theories, violence and authoritarianism would prevail. Our country would be transformed into the psychopathic image of Donald Trump.

Accountability must be our mantra as we try to recover from the trauma of Jan. 6. Sticking our collective heads in the sand will not help us maintain and renew our democratic experiment. Reprimand and censure are far too weak for the offenses at hand. An attempted overthrow of our democracy requires nothing short of expulsion. There is no more egregious and reprehensible offense an elected official can commit.

It is time for us to clean house of all seditionists and traitors. We cannot allow them to remain in the sacred halls of Congress. They are a cancer that has metastasized. They are anti-democratic and anti-American outliers. Their voices and their influence must be stamped out decisively.

Please remember that not one of these congressional Republicans has shown an ounce of regret or shame for their actions on or before Jan. 6. Not one has apologized to the American people. If anything, they have fortified their position and their resolve. They continue to support Donald Trump and his abortive insurrection. They have not learned a thing. This is a collective lack of conscience shown by a large group of seditionists.

They leave us no choice: The only way to save our democracy is through expulsion, banishment and lasting shame.

Here's why so many Americans still follow Trump — despite all that's happened

The persistent Trump "base" and the Republican members of Congress who maintain fealty to Donald Trump do so for a variety of reasons. They are not a monolithic body but a loosely associated conglomeration of supporters with their own individual or group reasons for remaining loyal to the twice-impeached ex-President.

"Membership" in the Trump base may include entry into one or more of the following categories.

  1. "All-in" isolationists, ultra-nationalists, white supremacists, racists and insurrectionists Arguably all those who marched in Charlottesville in summer 2017 and many of those stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are openly racist, and have felt liberated by the rhetoric and policies of the Trump era. For them, Trumpism represented an enticing outlet for perceived slights or a platform upon which to boost their identity, sense of meaning or being, and self-importance.
  2. Opportunists and political chameleons Those who fall into this category recognized that the Trump train presented itself as a vehicle by which one could achieve fame, success, ambition and political or personal gain. Those with political ambition watched Trump's tactics, saw its success and made the decision to be a Trump sycophant and copycat. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, mediocre members of society who had the financial means to run for Congress, are noted Trump exampled who will ride this train until it throws them off (and even then will continue to chase it). Fox News talking heads fall into this category as well. Following opportunity often requires suppressing any logic, rational thought or independent notions. This is a key factor behind the flip-flopping of politicians like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (who has vacillated in his defense and indictment of Trump and his insurrection), Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (two former Republican rivals to Trump who were mercilessly dragged by him only to become full-throated supporters), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for whom every Trump-related decision comes with an eye on the next election cycle. These are the political chameleons who will change as needed to survive.
  3. Narrow-minded, limited information input and vulnerable to cultism This group of followers is either actively or passively limited in the information that they receive through on-air and online media outlets. As a result of their "soda straw" approach to Republicanism, conservatism or Trumpism, they are simply not exposed to the damning evidence that exists to show Trump and the GOP's unethical, immoral and likely criminal behavior. This is the consumer of a steady diet of right-wing sources such as Fox News, OANN and Newsmax. One cannot discuss this group without referring to the concept of shared omnipotence, a cult leader tactic by which followers are repeatedly told that the leader will take them to a "promised land" (e.g., a place of increased wealth, no immigrants or people of color, world superiority or dominance, protection from death) and if they don't follow, the result is certain doom.
  4. Voting with their pocketbook Members of this group are totally focused on individual and family wealth. They voted for Trump twice because of his tax breaks for wealthier Americans. They may be repulsed by Trump the man, but they feel compelled to vote for him because they are profiting from his policies. They are one-issue voters and they will not be deterred by any of Trump's antics, lies or dishonesty.
  5. Hold your nose and vote Republican These group members are cousins of the previous group. This faction is diehard conservative Republicans who are unwavering in their support of the GOP based on years of support and the hope that this period is an aberration that will correct itself soon. Sen. Mitt Romney is one of the remaining stalwarts of this group.
  6. But he and I are Christians! In many ways an outgrowth of the latter group, these followers maintain their identity and faith as evangelical Christians. They have consistently voted Republican for a widely varying set of reasons, the abortion issue first and foremost among them. Now, electing and supporting Donald Trump, who is arguably the embodiment of sin, requires resolution of a huge case of cognitive dissonance. To accept Trump and Trumpism requires that a "true" Christian must fit this obviously square block into a circular halo. Attempts to reconcile this dissonance include pairing Trump with known Christian leaders and evangelicals, citing scripture that appears to validate this choice, or projecting Christian values on to Trump and Trumpists.

Not all Trump supporters are alike. It is inaccurate and wrong to lump them together. It misses the point and undermines any chance for reaching out to supporters in order to reinvent a Republican Party that is reasonable, more moderate and hinged to our American democracy.

Short of convicting and repudiating Trump at his upcoming impeachment trial — which appears highly unlikely — we will be left with the task of disambiguating and understanding his followers and what motivates them, and connecting with as many of them as possible. The future of our two-party democracy, and our entire country, will hang in the balance.

Trump's radicalized followers must be forced to see who he really is

Donald Trump is gone. Jan. 20 has come and gone. Joe Biden is our 46th president and Kamala Harris is our vice president. Celebration has been on display and our democracy is breathing easier.

But our glow of hopefulness will inevitably be dampened by the penetrating darkness of the past four years. The aftermath of Donald Trump is before us. And it cannot be avoided. For example, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and several other members of the "sedition caucus" are still in Congress and stand as a constant reminder of how much accountability and healing must still occur.

Many of us are at high risk for the development of trauma, stress-related and anxiety-related symptoms (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD). We have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse by the now-departed president. The sickness and death associated with the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic. Our crippled economy has created widespread depression and anxiety. Trump's racism, xenophobia, misogyny, nativism, white supremacy, violence and incitement of insurrection have all been traumatic forces as well.

Post-traumatic stress symptoms are increasingly evident among us: distressing and intrusive thoughts, anxiety, worry, fear, flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, disturbed sleep and more. These symptoms occur most notably in those with close proximity to the horrific nature of the deadly disease, such as first responders, medical providers and friends and families of victims. All are due to the impact of a cruel and corrupt leader who harmed us after swearing to be our protector. Much like a domestic abuser, Trump deceived, betrayed and mistreated us.

Beyond that, millions of Americans continue to view Trump as their beloved cult leader — even though he has been defeated, disgraced and repudiated. Trump's followers have been radicalized by the cumulative effects of his lies, conspiracy theories, magical thinking and fake narratives. Americans were bombarded with misinformation and propaganda. As a result, there are many passionate supporters who, at least until now, have refused to allow facts and the truth to shape their perceptions of their leader. Trump's demagoguery and fear-mongering has worked.

Donald Trump is a proven traitor — at least in the colloquial sense, and perhaps the legal sense as well — who spent four years disavowing the Constitution, attacking our democracy and abusing the public. He must be prosecuted and punished for his misdeeds and malfeasance.

We know that victims of abuse are better able to recover their self-esteem and hopefulness when abusers are held to account and victim safety is assured. Victims often feel unheard, misunderstood and unloved because their horrific experiences are minimized or not believed altogether. Prosecution of the abuser can go a long way to validate the intrinsic worth of the victim, and to help recapture positive mental health.

So, in a very real way, prosecution of Donald Trump is necessary for individual Americans to heal from their psychological distress and trauma and to feel liberated and positive going forward.

In a similar vein, the radicalization of Trump supporters can be deprogrammed if they see him being prosecuted and punished for his nefarious acts. He must be exposed for who he is — a con man whose cruelty, indifference and anti-democratic leanings were unleashed on the public. The realization of Trump's menace might help sweep away the false view of him as an esteemed leader. For some, this realization began last Wednesday, as President Biden was sworn in and Trump's supporters realized that their delusional belief in an ongoing Trump reign was shattered.

Dealing with the maliciousness and destructiveness of Donald Trump has begun. His oxygen of attention has been taken away. He has been banned from social media platforms. He is being ostracized and purged in most circles. But more than that, he must be prosecuted and punished for his transgressions against America and its people. He cannot simply be given a free pass because he is finally out of office. This would convey a dangerous message. We cannot stick our heads in the sand when abuse and radicalization have run rampant.

It appears that Trump is already considering another presidential run in 2024. Such is an unfathomable proposition in light of his past four years of abuse, death and insurrection. His lack of shame and remorse is appalling — but in no way surprising.

Trump must be convicted in the Senate for his second impeachment offense. He must be banned from future elected office as well. We must send a clear message to him and to all other future or potential presidential candidates that corrupt and criminal behavior will not be tolerated. We will not be abused all over again.

It will take time for us to heal, but that will happen more quickly and completely if prosecution and punishment is meted out to Donald Trump. In a democracy, no person is above the law. We must all be held accountable for our actions. Especially someone who misused and debased the highest office in the land, and whose reign of terror has traumatized us all.

Donald Trump is the now biggest loser in US political history

For four years we have heard that Republicans are afraid to stand up to Donald Trump because he will insult them and humiliate them into submission. They could not handle his childish taunts. They shrank from his barbs and slights, delivered largely on Twitter, the social media platform that has now evicted him permanently. Trump took advantage of their cowardice. He was like the big bully on the playground at school who intimidated smaller and weaker kids, then boasted about his easy conquests.

But no one should be afraid of Donald Trump now. After all, he is the biggest loser in U.S. political history. Indeed, he has relinquished the right to be feared.

Trump's record distinguishes him as the worst president ever. He has lost the popular vote in two national elections. He has been impeached twice, with conviction still possible in the second case. He has been an accomplice to the mass murder of over 400,000 Americans and counting due to the coronavirus. He has caused a massive economic crash. He has incited an insurrection against the government of the United States. He played a corrupt game of footsie with the president of Ukraine, and has been oddly but consistently subservient to the president of Russia. He has grifted the American people out of millions of dollars. He has pardoned associates and acquaintances who could implicate him in crimes. He has been incompetent, indifferent, lazy and vindictive. To top it all off, he has rushed to execute 13 people before his term is up — the most by any president in 120 years.

Trump intimidates via bullying, name-calling, threats and loud exclamations of bravado. His sense of grandiosity and superiority is enhanced when he is successful at embarrassing and humiliating others. To be sure, intimidation is his modus operandi. He rose to the top of the national political ladder through his use of intimidation. It is his only "skill."

But he is a total coward. He hides behind his lawyers and lets them do his "dirty work." He cannot fire people in person. He sent a bodyguard to deliver his letter of dismissal to former FBI Director James Comey's empty office. His specialty is to incite others to action and then deny any responsibility for their behavior. Ask Michael Cohen. Ask Rudy Giuliani. Ask the thousands of attackers at the Capitol. Trump did not have the guts to march with them to the Capitol — but he had no trouble sending them off into battle for his sole benefit.

Trump's political life has been based on lies and propaganda. His most egregious lie is that the election was rigged and stolen from him. It has been dubbed the "Big Lie." The truth is that the election was the most open and transparent in history. Joe Biden won fair and square. Trump lost by 7 million votes. He has lost more than 60 lawsuits in contesting the results. His lie about the election led to his seditious rhetoric and to his incitement of the insurrectionists.

Let us be clear: Trump actively tried to undermine and overthrow our democracy. He was fomenting a coup. He has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does not love our democracy and does not love our country. He is addicted to power, adulation, grift and corruption — and would rather overturn democracy than give up his addictions.

Trump must be finished as a political figure. It may take some time, but his political clout will wane gradually but assuredly into oblivion. He will try to hold onto his supporters by promulgating his conspiracy theories and his victimhood, but both will be disproven as we return to a world of observable facts and truth.

His gravitas is evaporating. He has become a pathetic and tragic joke. All the major leaders in the world are ecstatic at his upcoming exit from the scene — except perhaps Vladimir Putin, who has enjoyed having Trump in his back pocket.

Trump is already kryptonite. Social media platforms have banned him. Banks will not lend him money. Lawyers are hesitant to defend him against impeachment. Corporations have paused their financial contributions. Even the PGA has yanked its 2022 championship from his New Jersey golf course. His standing will continue to drop as he is further ostracized and purged from American public life.

Trump must be punished for all his federal and state crimes. His supporters need to understand the depth of his criminality. He is a bad actor who will soon face the consequences of his malfeasance. Nothing can erase power and adulation faster than prison. But not even prison can reverse the abuse and trauma inflicted by Trump upon the American people.

His reign of corruption and incitement of insurrection was fueled by his belief that he would not be punished for it, that he could break laws with impunity. This is exactly why his prosecution is required. He must face swift and firm consequences so that others will understand the reality — that Trump's corruption is a part of his DNA. He has been compromised all his adult life. Until now, his corruption was confined to the state of New York and the Trump Organization. In 2016, thanks to his flukish election victory, he started sharing his criminality with the entire country.

Trump has been living in his alternate universe of lies, conspiracy theories and magical thinking for so long that he is unable to face reality. But his alternate universe is crumbling. And Americans are becoming acquainted once again with facts, science and truth. In 2016, Trump told the Republican National Convention and a national television audience, "Only I can fix it." But he could not fix our country because he exacerbated and capitalized on our grievances for his own personal and political gain. That is the playbook of an authoritarian.

There is encouraging news, however. In recent polling, nine out of 10 Americans frown upon the insurrection on Jan. 6. Seven out of 10 Americans say Trump bears some responsibility for the violence. Fifty-six percent are in favor of Trump being banned from future elected office. His approval rating now stands at 29%.

Right-wing extremism was present long before Trump. Cultural and economic resentments have been brewing for years. Trump has seized upon these resentments and made them more mainstream through his radicalization of his supporters. Hopefully, right-wing extremism will recede as Trump's voice is silenced. Citizens who engage in political violence must be rooted out. Trump's unforgiving act of insurrection has shown his true stripes as an authoritarian who does not give a damn about anyone other than himself. Authoritarianism is antithetical to our representative democracy — and must be stamped out at every opportunity. And Trump has given us opportunities.

No one should be afraid of Donald Trump now. He is defeated, disgraced and repudiated. This is the trifecta of the biggest loser in U.S. political history.

This is our chance to show we have finally conquered our fear of that bully on the playground at school.

Here's how we can neutralize Trump during his dangerous last month in office

His diagnosis is clear. The remedies for his pernicious impact on America are clear as well.

In just over a month from now, Donald Trump — a malignant narcissist — will be removed from office by the will of the people and by the Constitution. Until then, his seditious, conspiratorial and corrupt influence will be front and center. He continues to promulgate the false narrative that victory in the election was snatched away from him by widespread voter fraud. He keeps filing baseless and frivolous lawsuits, even as high as the U.S. Supreme Court. He is ginning up his supporters, and at least 126 congressional Republicans have publicly supported him, out of a combination of misguided loyalty, opportunism and fear. Joe Biden will be our next president, but it is undeniable that Trump will exert a dangerous and destructive presence to his final day in office, and beyond.

It is unhealthy for us to sit back passively and allow this soon-to-be ex-president to continue to inflict damage on America. Trump's abusive impact is not unavoidable. It can be stopped.

Ten remedies exist to deal with Trump in his final days.

  1. The media must stop giving him attention. They must stop covering his every utterance. No more videos, audios, print stories or interviews. Attention is Trump's oxygen and lifeblood. He cannot negatively influence others if his visibility is curtailed or ended. If Trump organizes an alternative inauguration or a "campaign rally" on Jan. 20, it must not be broadcast or covered in any way. Bizarre and anti-American activities must not be given credibility. It must remain a part of his pathological fantasyland — not a part of our political and social reality.
  2. Americans can do their part by not watching or listening to him. Turn off the television and the radio. Do not watch him on social media. He is old news. He is irrelevant. His message must be abhorred and soundly repudiated.
  3. His Twitter account should be suspended. Stopping his Twitter activity would go a long way to neutralizing his impact. Trump tweets frequently — it is his most direct way to stay in contact with the public. His tweeting must be interrupted for the good of the country.
  4. Facebook and other social media platforms must do a better job of rooting out disinformation. Trump supporters have been ramped up by false and toxic rhetoric. That is unhealthy for them, and for the country. Making money as a business is one thing; contributing to seditious unrest in the country is another. Social media platforms must assume a more responsible role in our democracy.
  5. The mainstream media needs to allow mental health professionals to speak out. Experts have been almost entirely blocked out. It is long overdue to hear from professionals in the mental health field. Duty to warn the public is far more compelling than the outdated "Goldwater rule." Let experts be at the forefront of the discussion about this destructive and irrational traitor.
  6. Congressional Republicans need to put country over party and begin to speak out — loudly and forcefully. They need to abide by their oath of office. They need to find courage and boldness in Trump's final days. They must condemn his anti-democratic rhetoric and behavior. Loyalty to him is unacceptable. Fear of him is weakness.
  7. A small group of congressional Republicans need to speak with Trump in private and compel him to stop his rhetoric, concede the election and participate in the peaceful and orderly transfer of power. That's what Sen. Barry Goldwater and other Republican leaders did with Richard Nixon at the end of his presidency. These Republicans would be remembered as heroes.
  8. If Trump does not heed the private warning, he should be publicly asked to resign. Invoking the 25th Amendment remains a viable option.
  9. Trump needs to resign and allow Mike Pence to finish out the last few weeks of his term. He may well do this anyway, so that Pence can pardon Trump and his entire family. Regardless of how distasteful that is, it would at least get him out of the Oval Office and extricate ourselves from his dictatorial maneuvers.
  10. Finally, Americans should speak out and contact their elected officials to let them know that it is time for Trump to either shut his mouth or resign. Let your opinions be known. Being a citizen in a representative democracy requires active participation. Make a phone call or send an email.

It's fine that Trump does not want to attend the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. He does not deserve to witness it. We should demand that he slither away through the back door of the White House so that we do not have to endure his parting rants and raves.

The Trump nightmare is coming to an end. Let us hasten his exit from the scene. He has done too much damage to our institutions and to the collective psyche of America to tolerate this any longer.

Achieving a sense of closure from this man's malevolence will take time. It will not happen overnight. His pathological impact will dwindle slowly as we go forward. Positive, optimistic and hopeful political discourse will lead the way. We cannot remain hostage to his era of divisiveness and regressive decay.

Trump must be held accountable. He must be prosecuted for his crimes. That is the only way to demonstrate to all Americans — both those who support him and those who do not — that his criminal behavior has serious consequences.

Trump has done this to himself. He is not the victim. He uses victimhood to garner sympathy and to enlist the support of others who feel aggrieved. Victimhood is a deeply cynical process when it is false, fake and manipulative. It always is for him.

Trump's place in the history books is set. "Worst president in history" will be in every first and last paragraph. It will be his unchanging legacy.

So let us put Donald Trump in the rearview mirror sooner rather than later, where he belongs. As we do that, let us remember the 300,000 fallen Americans who will not be celebrating the holiday season, or our new dawn in America, with the rest of us. Their memories will be a constant reminder of what we have endured — and overcome.

ALAN D. BLOTCKY

Alan D. Blotcky, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.

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SETH D. NORRHOLM

Seth D. Norrholm is an associate professor of psychiatry in the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

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ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI

Anthony Scaramucci is a financier and past White House director of communications. He lives in Washington.

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41 days of pure hell: Donald Trump can't handle the emotions triggered by his defeat

Donald Trump has 41 days to go before his presidency is over. Instead of assisting with the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden, he has chosen to spend his final days exhibiting his psychiatric disorder. His rhetoric and his behavior are manifestations of his pathology. He shows every day that he has no self-control, no insight and no capacity to function effectively at his job.

Trump lost the election fair and square. But he cannot handle the defeat because his narcissistic injury has triggered outrage, hostility, accusations and victimhood. Despite his loud proclamations of a rigged election, there is absolutely no evidence of it. Trump has been rejected by a majority of the American people, and now he is an angry, miserable and destructive loser.

Trump is not capable of experiencing true depression. His psyche is not equipped for such a normal response. Rather, he responds to loss or disappointment by becoming enraged and accusatory. He feels and acts as if he were a victim. Trump's response is primitive and pathological. It is pathognomonic of personality pathology. It is entirely outside the realm of normalcy. It is dangerous.

Trump's "alternative universe" is being threatened by the reality of his election loss. He is desperate to maintain the persona of being smart, superior, strong and almighty. This is his "false self," a fantasy created to cover up the truth: that he is not very smart, that he is lazy, that he is disinterested, that he is not as rich as he claims, that he does not care about people, that he is corrupt and that he is cruel. That is Trump's "true self." He has spent his entire life spinning a fake web of grandiosity and superiority with enablers along the way to keep the ruse alive. As president, he has convinced millions that his false persona is more true than observable reality. That, my friends, is a skilled con man, an accomplished grifter, an unabashed criminal.

From all reports, Trump has stopped working. His days are filled with angry outbursts, watching television, promulgating conspiracy theories and playing golf. He is incapacitated by his psychiatric symptoms. He is abdicating his responsibility as president. The idea that he is our ultimate public servant could not be further from the truth. Trump is totally self-absorbed with his narcissistic injury and his grievances. Governing others is beyond his psychic capacity. In fact, it is his vindictiveness and his irrationality that have risen to the forefront.

So Trump's mental pathology is not allowing him to tackle the existential challenge facing the American people: the deadly pandemic that is raging and the resulting economic fallout. He has washed his hands of it. He has not mentioned it in months. He has not attended a task force meeting in months. He has not mentioned the 288,000 deaths under his watch — a number that will have grown by the time you read this. He continues to oppose mask wearing and favor herd immunity, for no coherent or rational reasons. He just endangered the lives of many other people a few nights ago at his pep rally in Georgia. Trump's lack of empathy, his inability to govern and his deep-seated cruelty are all on display in their most naked form.

Part of Trump's pathology is his scorched-earth mentality in response to his electoral defeat. He is filing baseless and frivolous lawsuits to try to overturn our free election. He is trying to subvert democracy by pressuring election officials to be dishonest and corrupt. He is exacting his revenge on Americans for rebuffing him. He is trying to undermine his successor so that he will be unsuccessful. He wants to pardon everyone in sight so that the rule of law will not apply to them. He wants to reinstitute executions by firing squad. He is not allowing the Biden transition team to talk with our intelligence agencies. Fascist sycophants are coming out of the woodwork to condone Trump's anti-democratic and anti-American rants.

He is so angry, embarrassed and humiliated that he cannot stand it. His instinct is to lash out, blame others, hurt others, distort reality, claim victory and exhibit false bravado. Nothing about his response is healthy, mature or normal. He is out of control. Our country is being forced to tolerate his crazed rhetoric and behavior.

Forty-one more days of hell are ahead of us. What could possibly save our country from this man's decompensation before our eyes? His immediate removal from office would minimize his damage to America. But, of course, congressional Republicans are enabling him and will not intervene in any way, let alone appropriately. Short of that, we will just have to endure the angst of the next six weeks.

Historians will be critical of Republicans because of their complicity over the past four years. Their unwillingness to deal with this irrational and destructive president right now will stand as their unforgivable legacy. Almost to a person, they have been silent and absent. They have been weak. As of this week, only 27 congressional Republicans are willing to acknowledge publicly that Joe Biden is our president-elect. Donald Trump could have been contained by a Republican Party that put country over party, good over evil, and courage over cowardice. But it did not.

The moral of this nightmare is that we must never again elect a mentally disordered president. We must require a psychological and psychiatric examination of all presidential candidates going forward, to be administered by a team of qualified experts. We must have a process whereby dangerous psychopathology can be identified and specific recommendations for public service can be offered. We could have saved our country from the past four years of anguish if we'd had a such a process in place in 2016.

Forty-one days to go to rid ourselves of this toxic and self-destructive man. We will prevail. But it will be hell getting there.

Donald Trump will make sure of that. He wants it that way.

ALAN D. BLOTCKY

Alan D. Blotcky, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.

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SETH D. NORRHOLM

Seth D. Norrholm is an associate professor of psychiatry in the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

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Trump's disordered psyche cannot handle his loss — and he must be stopped from wreaking havoc now

Jan. 20 cannot get here fast enough. Donald Trump is running wild with his disingenuous and false proclamations of a rigged election, rampant voter fraud and a stolen victory. Unbelievably, he is now claiming that the FBI and Department of Justice contributed to his fantastical claims of voter fraud. We have 50 days to go to survive this madman's deceitful and harmful rhetoric.

Let us be clear: Joe Biden won the election fair and square in what has arguably been the most scrutinized election in recent U.S. history. Trump has filed baseless and frivolous lawsuits and not a shred of evidence of massive voter fraud has been offered. In fact, his attorneys, with their bar licenses on the line, have repeatedly stated on the record, "This is not a fraud case." Yet Trump persists with his attention-seeking rants and raves.

Trump has lost. His psyche cannot handle the reality of the moment — that he has been repudiated by the American people. He is embarrassed, humiliated and scared, quite likely because he knows he is facing federal and state criminal charges once he leaves office. Trump is desperately trying to hold onto power to save his own hide. This is about his self-preservation. This is about him hiding out in the Oval Office so that he can avoid incarceration. To be sure, Trump's desperation is a confession-of-sorts of his wrongdoing.

Donald Trump is our outgoing president. He is old news. His voice is irrelevant. He has lost the bully pulpit. He should be packing his bags. He should be out of view. He should be saying goodbye and making plans for his life as a civilian.

We should not be giving Trump air time over the next 50 days. His lies, conspiracy theories and fake assertions are toxic. His Twitter account should be suspended or canceled. Television networks should not air his blather. He should not be quoted in newspapers or on websites. We should stop talking about him at the dinner table at home, with co-workers or in our online interactions. He needs to be out of our minds and out of the public consciousness.

Just like a screaming and defiant young child, Trump needs to be put in timeout — indefinitely. He should be silenced. He should be sequestered. We must not allow him to have the attention he thrives on — and any attention is positive reinforcement to him. The media must not allow his virulent voice to be heard.

Frankly, the media must stop normalizing his behavior, must stop trying to fit an ordered framework around his mentally disordered mind, and must stop using charming, storytelling descriptions such as "Mad King." The damage from this reckless and unfit president will be felt for decades. A necessary first step is to cut off the source.

Joe Biden is our future. He and Kamala Harris are the adults in the room who will provide strong and empathic leadership. The media should attend to their ideas, their plans and their expectations. Unity, inclusiveness and honesty is their mantra going forward. Let's give them our eyes and our ears. They deserve our full engagement now.

Trump should not be allowed to cause more damage on his way out. It's not like he is trying to attend to the pandemic or solve our economic woes. It's not like he is trying to save lives or pass a stimulus package for Americans who are suffering. No, all he is doing is promulgating false and fake conspiracy theories about the election — none of which are even remotely true. Worse than that, he has unsuccessfully tried to subvert democracy by overthrowing our election results.

Donald Trump's disordered psyche is his own damn problem. We have spent the past four years trying to navigate his erratic, nonsensical and inept behavior. It should not be our country's concern any longer. Trump needs a psychotherapist and likely some very strong medicine. That's his business. What we need is for him to leave us the hell alone.

Donald Trump needs to be gone. Short of members of his Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment — which will not happen — we need to cut off his ravenous desire for attention.

It is obvious that congressional Republicans will not put pressure on the outgoing president to be quiet. They have proven themselves to be spineless cowards who cannot put country over their own political fortunes. They need to tell Trump to abandon his pernicious rhetoric and to focus on the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden.

We should demand the silence of this miserable, desperate, pathetic man.

He needs to be put in timeout — indefinitely.

ALAN D. BLOTCKY

Alan D. Blotcky, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.

MORE FROM ALAN D. BLOTCKY

SETH D. NORRHOLM

Seth D. Norrholm is an associate professor of psychiatry in the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

MORE FROM SETH D. NORRHOLM

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI

Anthony Scaramucci is a financier and past White House director of communications. He lives in Washington.

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A new beginning: Experts explain how we'll survive our bad breakup with Donald Trump

The breakup of a relationship with a malignant narcissist is fraught with danger and uncertainty every step of the way. Such is the case with Donald Trump. Our breakup with him will be on center stage for the next 60 days. It has already proven to be grueling and disruptive and painful. Democracy feels like it is teetering. Republicans are silent and absent. Trump supporters are disappointed and unwilling to severe their cult-like bond with him.

But we will emerge from this bad breakup. We will survive. We will be stronger than before, especially if we take steps to minimize the damage and strengthen our healthy resolve.

As we have predicted, Trump's election defeat has triggered tremendous embarrassment and humiliation for him. He is now throwing a big temper tantrum — what we call narcissistic rage. He is like a screaming, stomping petulant child. His self-image of grandiosity and superiority is melting away. He is desperately afraid that we will all see that the emperor has no clothes.

Trump is refusing to concede the election for fear that he will be perceived as a loser. He is filing frivolous and baseless lawsuits. He is pushing Republicans to manufacture voter fraud in certain states. He is ginning up his base to support his false and fake narratives of victory.

Trump is now refusing to do his job. Yet playing golf on the weekends at taxpayers' expense is acceptable because he can cheat and win. He cannot work because he is totally consumed with figuring out a way to hang onto power at any cost. He is a desperate and pathetic man. His loud bravado belies his personal and political weakness. He does not mind that his corruption and lack of moral compass are on full display.

President-elect Joe Biden's transition team has been stopped cold in its tracks by a government employee who is showing fierce loyalty to the president. Trump is not allowing Biden to have access to intelligence briefings and coronavirus data. Trump is a bully who is acting as if the federal government were his own personal playground. He has no understanding that he is a public servant who holds office at the will of the people. And the people have spoken loud and clear at the ballot box.

Worse than defiance and obstructionism is Trump's scorched earth mentality. Consistent with being a malignant narcissist, Trump believes that everyone and everything should go down with him. He will seek revenge and destroy people if he can. He will undermine democratic norms and institutions. He wants to make sure that the Biden administration starts out with a mountain of ashes rather than a unified and hearty country. He is ignoring the spike in COVID cases across the country and he does not care that 252,000 American souls (and counting) have perished under his direction.

What we are seeing now is Trump's psychopathology gone amok. He is not capable of reigning in the dysfunctional and destructive parts of his personality. His self-control is nil. The pressures and stress of losing this election have overwhelmed his psyche. He is agitated and hostile and flailing. His breakup with America is going poorly because he is an unhealthy man. This is not politics or love of country — this is one man's psychopathology creating turmoil and havoc for millions of us.

But we will survive this breakup. Trump has lost the election and he will be removed from office at noon on Jan. 20, 2021. His official voice will be retired. He will lose his bully pulpit. His pep rallies of misinformation and lies will come to a halt. Trump will slither away behind the scenes so that he does not have to show the face of defeat to the world. Fortunately, our Constitution provides the guardrail for ridding us of this failed and defeated leader.

The best way to survive this breakup is to invest energy and hope in our new president, Joe Biden. Biden is the father figure we need to confront the existential challenges we face. He is experienced and committed and wise. He has been a true public servant for over 40 years. He will address and fix the pandemic, the economic recession and the recent undermining of democratic institutions. Biden has the temperament, empathy, gravitas and skill to navigate this complicated and anxiety-producing time.

Biden will be the anti-Trump in many important ways for the mental health of our country. There will not be an "alternative universe" of false narratives and self-aggrandizement. There will be a return to an emphasis on science and the truth. The Biden administration will be a corrective emotional experience for those of us who have been traumatized by Trump's reign of terror for the past four years.

Many Americans will get closure from this breakup. For some, it will be the image of Trump walking out of the White House for the last time, or Biden placing his hand on the Bible at the inauguration. For others, it may take the legal, financial and social fallout that will come to Trump once he emerges from the protective bubble of the Oval Office.

Our successful breakup with Trump must be promoted by the media. Trump's Twitter account should be suspended because of his corrosive and toxic propaganda. Media coverage of him must be curtailed. Fox News should dissociate from him. OAN and Newsmax ought to do the same. Trump's attempts to establish a media presence must be thwarted.

Donald Trump's oxygen is attention from the public — he cannot maintain an influence in America without it. For our safety and well-being and sanity, we need Trump to vanish from our public consciousness. But he will not disappear voluntarily — we must force him out with clear intentions and firm boundaries.

Once Trump is removed, the tone and tenor of our country will change. We will adopt the mantra of unity, inclusiveness and honesty going forward. Racism, xenophobia, sexism and terrorism will be rejected without exception on a national level. It will be our new normal.

Trump's supporters and sycophants have had a tight emotional and irrational bond with him, largely because of the phenomenon of collective narcissism. Their connection will be broken once Trump is removed from power. Their gradual deprogramming from their cult leader will take time. A return to political discourse with negotiation and compromise will eventually occur.

Trump supporters are not the enemy. Their grievances and concerns merit attention. They want to be heard and valued. They want to count. Their sociocultural and economic issues must be addressed. Biden has already announced that he wants to be the president for all Americans.

A bad breakup with Donald Trump was inevitable. Relationships with malignant narcissists always end badly with great angst. This is no exception.

We will survive this breakup. What now feels so confusing and frightening will soon lead to sunshine and a new beginning.

Ex-Trump official: Here's how the 'morally bankrupt' GOP will help 'coward' Trump cheat on Election Day

This Election Day has the potential to be epic. The repudiation of Donald Trump will bring unprecedented challenges to the results. Undoubtedly, Trump's response to defeat will be dramatic and unsettling and anti-democratic. We all need to be prepared with a heightened sense of anticipation and watchfulness.

Anthony Scaramucci is a lifelong Republican and former White House Director of Communications. He has had a front row seat to Donald Trump and his presidency.

We asked Scaramucci a number of questions about Trump and his response to defeat on Election Day. His thoughts are both revealing and frightening.

What would you anticipate Trump's reaction will be to a loss?

Trump will have a fight and then flight response. He'll tweet furiously, try to discredit the process and appeal to his judges to overturn the results, but when he realizes it's all over, he'll slink out of the White House in shame. People say he'll have to be forcibly removed – there is no chance of that happening. He's too much of a coward to put up a fight.

Will he ultimately help Biden in a peaceful transition?

No, I don't think Trump will offer any help to Biden in the transition. Given his deep narcissism and insecurity, any success in the Biden administration will be viewed as an affront to his legacy. He and his acolytes will do everything possible to sow division and sabotage the Biden administration. During Trump's term we've seen that today's Republican party is morally bankrupt. The modern GOP is focused exclusive on accumulating power, not improving the lives of the American people.

Why is he so absolutely desperate to be re-elected?

Two reasons. One, it's an ego thing. He doesn't like to lose. He compares himself to other people, especially President Obama, and if he loses it will be a personal failure. Two, he wants to avoid prosecution for his multitude of high crimes. I don't think he ever wanted or expected to win in the first place. His 2016 campaign was an elaborate branding exercise for the Trump organization. He had prepared his entire messaging campaign around blaming voter fraud for his defeat, a narrative he's repackaged for 2020. Nobody was more shocked and scared on election night 2016 than Donald Trump. Once he got comfortable in office and realized the cowardice of his Republican colleagues, he dialed up the brazenness of the corruption – shaking down foreign leaders for bribes in exchange for foreign policy concessions, diverting federal funds to his businesses and stealing money from his campaign. Now he's in too deep to back down, but the walls are closing in.

You know him. Does he have any capacity for insight? Or is he totally self-absorbed?

Trump is completely self-absorbed and has no capacity for insight. He doesn't listen to or take advice from anyone. That's what I got most wrong in 2016 – I thought he would grow into the office of the presidency and be a pragmatic, post-partisan type of leader. What I didn't realize is that he had no interest in learning, growing or serving the American people. He only thinks about how he can bend a situation to his own self-interest.

Will he enlist Bill Barr to try to have mail in ballots thrown out?

Yes, the GOP's entire campaign strategy in this cycle is to cheat and suppress votes. The Justice Department and Supreme Court are like a venomous snake lying in wait to steal the election. We've already seen the groundwork being laid with challenges to mail-in ballots in places like Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Obviously, we know the history in Florida. Barr has been eerily quiet, I suspect in anticipation of an attempted heist the likes of which America has never seen. The GOP has no shame, which is why we need to tear the whole party down.

Why has he proven himself to be incapable of pivoting on any issue? Why he doubles down every time?

Trump doesn't like to admit he's wrong. In fact, it's a core part of his personal philosophy: never apologize. I've only seen him apologize twice in his life. The first, to Melania after the release of the Access Hollywood tape. The second, to the family of the real Pocahontas for linking them to Elizabeth Warren. Also, he's so insecure that he feels loyalty to those who show him support. He doesn't really have any closely held convictions, other than self-interest. Even though it has hurt his reelection chances, he refuses to veer away from his base.

How will he try to steal the election?

The GOP is trying every which way to invalidate ballots, especially mail-in ballots. They sabotaged the postal service so delivery is heavily delayed. They have eliminated ballot drop box locations in places like Texas. They tried to reintroduce a poll tax in Florida. In South Carolina, they'll use signature matching to try to invalidate ballots. They've purged voter rolls in Georgia. But the ace up their sleeve will be last-minute legal challenges to mail-in ballots. For example, in Minnesota, there are still around 500,000 mail-in ballots in transit. In a 2-1 partisan ruling, Minnesota judges instructed the board of elections to segregate ballots received after election day. The newly conservative Supreme Court will likely order those ballots tossed out, despite no precedent for such a decision. Judge Kavanaugh already issued a highly flawed and dishonest ruling about ballots post-marked before election day. The groundwork has been laid for an election day heist.

He seems ultimately self-destructive. Always shoots himself in the foot? How do you see that?

People who hate themselves are ultimately self-destructive. When things are going well for them, they find ways to self-sabotage. That was true of Trump's mentor Roy Cohn, and it's true for Trump. I think if he had opened the tent and been a more inclusive leader, he could've won in spite of the pandemic. Nobody hates Trump more than he hates himself, and it comes down to his father's disapproval of him from an early age.

Beware of Donald Trump on Election Day. Scaramucci describes him as desperate, conniving, and anti-democratic. He will do anything to preserve his power and to fend off criminal charges against him.

Let's be clear: Democracy itself is on the ballot tomorrow. Trump must be stopped. And his efforts to hijack the election must be thwarted.

Alan D. Blotcky, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.

Seth D. Norrholm, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit, Michigan.

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