The Paranoid Style in American Politics (2016 Edition)

In an interview on NBC’s Today show before his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama talked to Matt Lauer about the Donald Trumpa Lumpa craze (around 3:55).



Trump’s a little nuts graf:

The message that Donald Trump’s putting out has had adherence a lot of times during the course of our history.

No kidding.

Exhibit A: Historian Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority.

Consider, for example, this Lyndon Johnson 1964 campaign ad.



Barry Goldwater turned the 1964 Republican National Convention into a total bar brawl, which he won much to the GOP’s dismay.

More from Hofstadter:

I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.

It goes beyond men with disturbed minds: It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

Paging Donald Trump. Paging Mr. Donald Trump.

But here’s the scary part: “The clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him. The spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others.”

That would apply to, well, anything Trump has said in the past eight months.

So . . . be paranoid. Be very paranoid.

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4 Responses to The Paranoid Style in American Politics (2016 Edition)

  1. Pingback: The Paranoid Style in American Politics (2016 Edition) | Campaign Outsider

  2. Curmudgeon says:

    Boy, Matt Lauer hasn’t aged well since his days as a puff reporter on WJAR-TV Providence ! !


  3. The 'Superess' (C.) says:

    As Barney Frank would say, ‘Curmudgeon’, Content! Content! Content!’
    Great American history lesson John.
    Re prior post ~
    G.E. ~ one of world’s largest environmental polluters; welcome them to Boston at your peril.


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