Presidential Perp-Walk

Articles Apr 3, 2023

Like many of you, I am watching a live feed of Trump Tower this morning. The building is barricaded with gates in the case of protesters or rioters and hungry cameramen lay in wait to catch a first glimpse of the golden locked president, himself awaiting locking.

I must admit this is a strange moment and I have many reactions. The most notable is a sense of sadness as the country has declined so swiftly and so far into incivility. I do understand those who take delight in Donald Trump being harpooned like this; it is normal to feel some elation when your perceived enemy get his just desserts, as you see it. I myself do not care much for the man, and believe his personality has fueled a culture war beyond what was necessary. But, the cost of moments like these are more subtle and vast than we may imagine.

I am not sad for the man but for the office of the president and of the institutions our politics. Since perhaps Bill Clinton Americans have been stripped of the illusion of a noble leader. Yes, there was Nixon I know, but that did not start a trend because technology had not boomed into a technocracy yet.

Reagan and H.W Bush were the last noble leaders (perhaps by appearance.) With the onset of Bill Clinton we saw a decline in American civil politics. We had a narcissistically vulnerable leader and a bloodthirsty congress hunting him. Sound familiar? With Clinton we had a version of Trump: someone who saw himself as so operationally smooth…yet who was apparently so clumsy that he ended up impeached for nonsense. Neither of these men were/are smooth; rather they existed in a time unsuited for them with cameras catching every moment of their daily grind. And, oh do they grind. Oh, do they grind. This I find the saddest…that we all watch and support the spectacle of the actors and their relationship with television.

This I must say is unstoppable. We are in fact unable to turn away, and I am right now monitoring the screen in order to say, one day, that I watched the first presidential perp-walk. I am normal for this, and I am also depraved as all humans have ever been. Our media depends on these killer instincts…the sublimation of our aggression into salivating news watching.

But no jugular moment really comes…and none of us really want to see a presidential moment like this….not really.

If you have ever sat in a beautiful Catholic church and gazed at the architecture, you might notice that for a moment, regardless of your spiritual status, you have a feeling perhaps like faith. You cannot help but feel lifted by the grand beauty created from the many hands that hoisted the connection with the heavens. That is what we all really want…and it is what we have deprived ourselves of in lieu of of bloodlust. I think it has not been a fair barter with ourselves.

Carrying on the theme from my last essay, I have begun truly wondering how to spend my remaining time on the planet. The question of my morning is, will I turn away from the circus?

The Real Clear Podcast with Dr Lucas Klein is the in-depth analysis and commentary on current political events through a psychological lens. The Real Clear podcast covers a wide range of topics, from the latest election results to policy debates, to exploring the impact of current events on the political landscape.