The definition of delusion is: “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.”
Today, after a presidential election, several court cases, official and unofficial audits and the storming of the United States Capitol, the fact is that Joe Biden is the President of the United States.
Then why is it that a large portion of the population of America continues to believe that the election was stolen? My opinion…delusion – a disease that slowly invades the mind and prevents the infected from the ability to make rational, common sense choices.
One of my favorite sayings, comes from former US President, Ronald Reagan; “Trust, but verify.” Maybe, the person, group or populations, ravaged by delusion are incapable of comprehending a statement such as this.
Delusion is insidious…it slowly ravages the mind and waits for a catalyst, not to spread the disease, but to make it normal, essentially enabling others infected by the disease to unify and grow. When a person, group, or population comes together of the same delusion, what comes out of it…nothing good.
One event in history that comes to mind is the Holocost, the mass slaughter of people of the Jewish faith. Given all the factual evidence of this terrible period, there were and still are, people that believe it didn’t happen. The catalyst was Adolph Hitler. He successfully normalized the delusions of a German population, enabling them to grow and transformed them into an army. On September 16, 1919, Hitler defined Jews not as a religion but a race and characterized them as a, “race-tuberculosis of the peoples,” and that the, “ultimate goal must definitely be the removal of the Jews altogether.” With a popular leader that has confirmed the delusions of a population, Hitler was successful in fueling anger and focusing that anger on people of the Jewish faith. The result was the death of approximately 6 million Jews.
The Ku Klux Klan, established back in the time of Reconstruction and continues today, formed as a means of restoring white supremacy. In a quote from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the KKK’s message of delusion can be summed up as this,
“In the dark days immediately after the Civil war, Southerners were just beginning to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives when an evil and profit-minded coalition of northern radical republicans, carpet- baggers and Southern scalawags threw out legitimate Southern governments at bayonet point and began installing illiterate blacks in state offices. worse, the conspirators aroused mobs of savage blacks to attack defenceless whites while the South was helpless to do anything about it. the radicals pulling the strings behind the scenes stole Southern state governments.”
This delusion fuelled anger and violence causing the senseless death of many African Americans and other people of color. The difference with what happened in Hitler’s Germany and the KKK is that The Klan had chapter leaders, but not one catalyst that could bring them all together and command them to act as one army.
Today, with the advent of social media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, multiplayer games that allow players to communicate with one another and communities of common interests, people have a platform to find commonality and validate their delusions. In addition, a portion of the mainstream news, politicians, teachers, doctors, and religious figures, continue to normalise the delusion by creating labels that don’t state the reality of a person, group or community’s actions – the “Big Lie” doesn’t seem like much of a problem because everyone lies, but when it is tied to a mental disorder, it’s a whole other story.
Being endowed with a delusional nature himself, in addition to a tendency towards narcissistic and sociopathic behaviour, Donald Trump is a natural at feeding into the delusions of populations. Through a perfected technique of passive aggressive behaviour and the power of suggestion, Trump can direct populations supporting the same delusional thought, to attack almost at will. During his time as President, he normalised groups such as QAnon, white supremacists groups, ultra-right militias, as well as populations that have zero trust in government. As a result, these populations were given licence to voice and act upon their delusions. With that power, Trump became the catalyst for everyone with a tendency towards delusional thought, and convinced them all, that if he lost the election it would be because it was rigged. The result was countless ballot recalls and the January 6th insurrection on the United States Capitol.
On January 6, 2021, Trump stated, “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Did he explicitly state that he wanted the protesters to storm the Capitol to stop the election, no…but was he really hoping that they would…yes. Trump never explicitly states anything…that’s what protects him from blame and prosecution. After his speech, Trump sat in the security of the White House and watched the violence unfold on TV.
Catalyst: “an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.”
I don’t want to sound like an alarmist. However, if we the people don’t call out “The Big Lie,” for what it is…just a Delusion, then we may be in for another era of Hitler.