The Vulgar “I” and Decision-Making
As we approach election day, more and more Republicans are publicly denouncing their party’s nominee. The reason? A lack of faith in Donald Trump’s judgment to make humane, rational, and constitutionally founded decisions that would lead our nation through a complicated public policy at home and foreign policy abroad.
Obviously, Democrats have had a lack of faith in Donald Trump’s judgment from the get go. During the National Democratic Convention, Hillary Clinton made a compelling case against Donald Trump’s self-obsessed character, and against his decision-making process.
One problem that we may overlook in the midst of a growing bi-partisan unity to challenge the judgment of Trump, however, is that his rise through the ranks of the Republican Party is a consequence of a certain reactionary subgroup of the Republican electorate. This subgroup has relentlessly pushed him to the top because he unabashedly speaks to their prejudices and defends their morally bankrupt understanding of the world.
The rise of Trump is the consequence of a collective exterior self whom demands that our public policy debate be preoccupied with their exclusionary and bigoted worldview.
Trump will come and go, but his furious supporters, represented in the political symbol of the Vulgar “I,” will remain. At some point, they must be contended with.
As much as Trump has a magical knack for political populism—clearly of the authoritarian variety—he can and will be replaced by someone else who speaks to and defends the same rage of America’s Vulgar “I.”
Republicans, en masse, need to forcefully denounce this subgroup of their electorate and stand against it.
The distinction between the short-lived populism of Trump and the generations-long permanence of his supporters that find a home in right-wing politics is critical to identify when trying to discern the decision-making process of a Trump presidency (or any other presidency brought to power by the Vulgar “I”).
In American democracy we are engaged in a collective decision-making process, and it is especially important to have sound leadership that has possession of himself or herself to make moral decisions—not just for the exclusive few, but for the good of American society as a whole.
Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump as “dangerous” for America. She has argued that he is “unpredictable” and has an erratic temperament. Many, from rank-and-file Republicans to Republican Generals, agree.
We must understand that while Trump is an authoritarian, he is not autocratic per se. Trump heavily relies his decision-making process on external forces, particularly those exclusionary and bigoted attitudes of the collective Vulgar “I.”
As an icon of the Vulgar “I,” and in solidarity with all other vulgar “I’s,” Trump symbolizes a national movement in a state of fury and hate that does not have itself in hand to make moral decisions for American society, much less decisions for peace in the world.
And decisions made in an irrational state of fury and hate is in deed “dangerous” and “unpredictable.”