The Devil went down to Georgia

Georgia

The Devil went down to Georgia
He was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal[1]

So there’s this huge problem for Republicans in Georgia because Donald Trump claims he was robbed of election victory through fraud and Trumpsters believe other Republicans have not done enough to “defend” Trump, that is, to overturn the result. The fear is that some Trumpsters will refuse to vote for Republican candidates in the U.S. Senate runoff because they love Trump more than they do Republicans by a whole lot. And of course, that race will determine control of the Senate.[2]

The conventional wisdom, I think, is that this peril is not so great as to actually endanger Republican chances. Certainly, I’ve thought that. Trump himself has endorsed the Republican candidates and urged his supporters to vote for them. But then I hear about this massive rally[3] and this:

“In the first Million MAGA march we promised that if the GOP did not do everything in their power to keep Trump in office, then we would destroy the GOP,” conservative commentator Nick Fuentes shouted into a megaphone while standing on a stage surrounded by protesters.

“As we gather here in Washington D.C. for a second Million MAGA March, we’re done making promises. It has to happen now. We are going to destroy the GOP,” he continued, to thunderous applause.[4]

And I have to ask myself, are they really so unhinged that they’d let the Democrats take control of the Senate? Given my experience with Trumpsters seeking validation in my back seat,[5] I think my answer is, no, they will rant and rave, very, very, very loudly, scaring the shit out of Republicans who are more focused on retaining control of the Senate. But in the end, they’ll hold their nose and vote for those “Republicans In Name Only” (RINOs). But damn, that’s an impressive rally.

And it turns out that Trump and his followers may well suffer from addiction to grievance,[6] in which,

Although these are new findings and the research in this area is not yet settled, what this suggests is that similar to the way people become addicted to drugs or gambling, people may also become addicted to seeking retribution against their enemies—revenge addiction. This may help explain why some people just can’t let go of their grievances long after others feel they should have moved on—and why some people resort to violence.

It’s worth asking whether this helps explain Trump’s fixation on his grievances and ways of exacting retribution for them. The hallmark of addiction is compulsive behavior despite harmful consequences. [Donald] Trump’s unrelenting efforts to retaliate against those he believes have treated him unjustly (including, now, American voters) appear to be compulsive and uncontrollable. The harm this causes to himself and others is obvious but seems to have no deterrent effect. Reports suggest he has been doing this for much of his life. He seems powerless to stop. He also seems to derive a great deal of pleasure from it. . . .

Like substance addiction, revenge addiction appears to spread from person to person. For instance, inner-city gun violence spreads in neighborhoods like a social contagion, with one person’s grievances infecting others with a desire to seek vengeance. Because of his unique position and use of the media and social networks, Trump is able to spread his grievances to thousands or millions of others through Twitter, TV and rallies. His demand for retribution becomes their demand, causing his supporters to crave retaliation—and, in a vicious cycle, this in turn causes Trump’s targets and their supporters to feel aggrieved and want to retaliate, too.[7]

It occurs to me that the reason I was right, when defending my dissertation, about Trump winning in 2016 was that I correctly perceived authoritarian populist fury and judged that it would overcome lukewarm-at-best support for Hillary Clinton. As Trump became ever more obviously a black hole, I retreated from that prediction, embracing more conventional thinking. The conventional thinking was wrong then. I’m wondering if it is wrong now.

James Kimmel, Jr., “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” Politico, December 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/12/trump-grievance-addiction-444570

Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354


  1. [1]Charlie Daniels et al., “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” MusixMatch, October 5, 2020, https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Charlie-Daniels-Band/The-Devil-Went-Down-to-Georgia-2
  2. [2]Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/
  3. [3]Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  4. [4]Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, October 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  6. [6]James Kimmel, Jr., “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” Politico, December 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/12/trump-grievance-addiction-444570
  7. [7]James Kimmel, Jr., “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” Politico, December 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/12/trump-grievance-addiction-444570

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