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Confessions of an anti-Trumpist: “I want him to suffer”



Schadenfreude. One of those quintessentially German words, for which we have no equivalent in English. The roots, translated, are “Damage” and “Joy.” The definition: Pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.”

Fans of The Simpsons may remember the word being used by Lisa, in the episode (“When Flanders Failed”) when Homer manipulates to have Ned Flanders’ left-handed store go out of business. When he succeeds, Lisa accused Homer of schadenfreude, which she defines as “shameful joy.”                              

Feelings of schadenfreude are all-too-human; who among us hasn’t secretly wished for an enemy to be brought low, or been pleased when one fails? I feel schadenfreude sometimes, and when I do, I also inevitably feel guilt, as though I should be a mixture of the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, thinking thoughts of lovingkindness to all.

Well, as long as I’m in the confession business, I’ll ‘fess up to this: I am taking pleasure in seeing Donald Trump suffer. That he is suffering emotionally due to the scandals is evident. Now, the conventional stance Democrats are supposed to take is, “I wish President Trump well because, if he succeeds, America succeeds,” and that is, I suppose, true, as far as it goes. But there are plenty of reasons to think that America will do just fine when and if Trump goes away, and that the country would in fact be better off without him. So, from that point of view, one can wish ill upon Trump without wishing harm to America.

But why would anyone wish harm on Trump? Isn’t that uncharitable? It’s a good question. So here’s my personal explanation for my Trumpian schadenfreude.

I didn’t much think about him one way or the other until he started the birther stuff. Of course I knew who he was: billionaire real estate tycoon, media showboater, New York blowhard, Mar-a-Lago, The Apprentice, the wives and mistresses, etc. etc. ad nauseum. But he was just another piece of detritus floating on the Sea of Celebrity, about which I care nothing.

Until birtherism. It was such an awful lie from the start, so blatantly malicious, that it immediately put Trump on my radar: Really Bad Person! And then he stayed with it for years, repeating the lie even after everybody else (except the lunatic fringe right) knew it was false. As I recall, it wasn’t until sometime last year, when he was running for president, that he finally conceded Obama to be American, although he did so begrudgingly.

To list Trump’s subsequent lies, smears, defamations and insults would take a book; I don’t have to, because you know them, too. This thug has shanked both Clintons, both Obamas, all Democrats and many ordinary people (the Gold Star parents, that reporter with a disability, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, scientists, gay people) so many times that I just can’t forgive him for bringing dishonor into the White House and rancor into the national conversation. He has needlessly and stupidly rabble-roused the tea party into fury, besmirched our political system, upset the international order in a way that is not helpful to America, and dragged the nation down. These are all very bad things. I take my politics seriously; for me, “forgive and forget” is not going to happen; I’ll leave that to others. Donald Trump declared a war on truth, kindness, fairness, decency and respect, and continues to wage it to this day.

And he did so deliberately, with malice aforethought. He himself does not care about the damage he has caused and continues to cause—does not care how much hurt he inflicts on innocent people—does not care if he’s caught in lie after lie—does not care about anything, except his personal power and wealth and bamboozling what few credulous supporters remain in his camp. It has simply been an awful, traumatizing experience for those of us who believe in honor and in this country. Every president in my lifetime has been a gentleman—Republicans and Democrats alike. Not this one. He has brought our politics to a dark, unholy place, because he is dark and unholy inside. I resent him for what he’s done to America. And for that, I want him to suffer.

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