Last night, Donald Trump ordered peaceful protesters outside the White House shot with rubber bullets and tear gas so he could have a photo op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church. Trump did that in order to prove his masculinity. He stood outside the church with a bible, which he pumped up and down like a 1-pound hand weight. He did not offer comfort to the parish, he did not speak to Right Reverend Mariann Budde, the Episcopal Archbishop of Washington D.C. Donald Trump ordered people exercising their First Amendment rights shot and wounded because his ego was damaged.
Much like a family annihilator, Donald Trump is attacking the people he claims to love. And like a family annihilator, Donald Trump can’t love anyone. He can pretend, to a point, but when that family calls him out, or tries to fight back against the abuse he rains down upon them, or he gets caught in a lie, he murders them all.
A study published at the National Institute of Justice delves into the pathology of family annihilators, which you can read here. But there is a term highlighted in the study that perfectly describes what Donald Trump is, and what he’s doing: Overenmeshment. From the NIJ study:
Overenmeshment is a condition in which perpetrators either view their family members as possessions that they control or [they] don’t see any boundaries between their identity, their wife and their children.
This is Donald Trump. He has no empathy, so he is incapable of consoling a nation in crisis. He does not recognize the pain of others, so he is incapable of showing remorse or understanding or sorrow. To Donald Trump, we, the citizens of the United States, are things and possessions, to be used for the sole purpose of making him appear better than he really is.
But that is falling apart. Much like the husband and father who gets fired from a job, or who is caught cheating by his spouse, Donald Trump’s lie is being revealed. And for a family annihilator, this is when everything explodes. This is when the manipulation and the deceit turn deadly.
Donald Trump’s base believes he loves them, that his unfettered rage is directed at “the other.” They believe to their core that these protesters, these grief-stricken, angry, exhausted black people, are doing all of this on purpose to destroy their beloved leader. Some of them believe that George Floyd deserved to be murdered by four Minneapolis police officers.
While it is easy to mock Trump believers, they are victims, too. They are the spouse or partner who stays in an abusive relationship because the abuser buys them flowers after he beats them, or never hits them in the face. When Donald Trump finally reaches his breaking point, which could be any day, his faithful flock will suffer right along with the rest of us.
Donald Trump is, in real time, destroying this country. He is ignoring the Constitution, he is ordering police and the military to shoot at peaceful protesters, he is filled with anger because he fled to a bunker and turned the lights off in the White House, and that is being viewed by many as weak. He hasn’t spoken any words of comfort, instead, he has spoken words of violence, he has lied, he has threatened. He has made everything worse.
There is a reason Trump admires dictators who murder their own people. There is a reason Donald Trump said he and Kim Jong Un “fell in love.” In Trump’s diseased mind, he should be able to execute his detractors, he should be able to muzzle the press, he should be able to use the military to quash protests and dissent.
Just like a family annihilator, Donald Trump wants ultimate control. But unlike a family annihilator, Trump has targeted millions of people. People who will not allow him to annihilate us or our country. We have to hold fast to the hope that Congress will do everything in their power to stop him. We have to believe there are military leaders who, if Trump invokes the Insurrection Act, will realize he is ordering them to attack American citizens, and refuse to do so.
It was always going to come to this. But now that we are here, we have the power to stop him. We cannot let Donald Trump annihilate our American family.