Does Trump Have Dementia? Do We?

A friend writes, “Just curious about your take on whether Donald Trump has early onset dementia.   Have you been writing about that?”

Well that’s a question I can’t answer; I just don’t know.  But I also am not sure I’m too interested in it.

I liked a recent NYT piece from a psychiatrist who said he wasn’t interested in diagnosing Trump from a distance. He reminded us that people can do bad things for all sorts of reasons.  “The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological,” he said.  Not medical, either, I’d add.

Because the need is political, I’m looking for organizations to work with politically in a thoughtful and strategic manner.

Back before the inauguration, as I decided I’d turn The Observatory blog more towards the general political situation, I wrote a piece about my commitments in the Trump era.  Those commitments started with the observation that Trump is unfit by character to be President, and that this could not/would not change.  I reached that conclusion on what he has done over the whole of his adult life.  That’s a book we all can read.

A consequence I draw from this observation is not to pay too much attention to what Trump says, and not even much to what he does.  More important is to pay attention to those who enable him: the Republican leaders in Congress and his lead appointees.  No one suggests they have dementia or serious mental illness, but Trump can achieve nothing without their active efforts.  I’m going to pay attention to those enablers.

Trump is a dark circus: always has been, always will be.  Bannon, Preibus, Ryan, McConnell, the deplorable cabinet appointees, and behind them the moneyed interests they serve: they’re the real danger.

Each morning I wake up to this realization: Republicans won the Presidency and the Senate in 2016 because they did a better job of mobilizing their base of supporters than Democrats did in turning out their supporters.  What does that say about us, the American people?  What led us to do such a demented thing?

Imagine Trump removed from the Presidency today.  With President Pence do I feel more optimistic?  It’s a different situation, but not a better one.  It might be the beginning of an even longer nightmare.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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