Saturday, June 10, 2017

Learned helplessness and the Republican Party

Today's buzzword comes, not from political science, but from psychology.  Now, for those of you reading about the "replication crisis" in psychology, this comes with a great, big, heaping pile of sodium chloride (hey, chemistry still works these days!), and I don't know how much of the "learned helplessness" research has been caught up in the debunkery parade, but let's have at it anyway.

"Learned helplessness."  Basically, some despicable people tortured some animals in various ways to the point that the animals stopped trying to avoid the torture.  The animals learned that they were helpless to stop it.  Kind of a miserable state of being.  It looks a little like this...

Speaking of people who enjoyed torturing small animals as children, hey, look at that smile on Donny-boy's face!  (Just a guess, but would you really be surprised if it were true?  Also, you know the deal with people who do that as kids, right?)  And then there's Mitt.  Learned helplessness.  For some reason, he thought he might be picked as Sec. State, and he kept letting himself get tortured.

And we keep seeing this play out.  We saw it last week.  Before the Comey hearings, I pointed out that Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz had been brought to heel, even after everything Trump had said and done to them.  If they were playing along with the defense of Trump in the Comey matter, everyone else would too, no matter how painful it would be for them.  Little Marco played along.  John McCain did!  Remember John McCain?!  Remember how Trump was supposed to have disqualified himself from the contest by dismissing McCain's military record by saying that he likes guys who don't get captured?!  John FUCKING MCCAIN PLAYED ALONG!  I speculated yesterday that the incoherence of McCain's questioning was a matter of senility.  Maybe he just hated himself so much for defending that despicable piece of fucking shit, Donald Trump, who shat all over his war record.  Look, I'm no fan of McCain.  The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill was one of the dumbest pieces of legislation I have ever seen, and the whole thing was a scam to get idiotic journalists to see him as Mr. Clean, and forget about the fact that he was a member of the Keating Five.  I haven't forgotten.  (Look it up, kids).  Side note, John Glenn was another member of the Keating Five, and nobody wants to talk about that either, but I digress.  Regardless, John McCain was held captive for five years, and tortured.  All he had to do to go free was make a propaganda statement for the Vietnamese communists, because of who his father was.  Five years of torture, and he never broke.  And that little fucking coward, yes, true coward (I've been particular about the use of that word) says he likes guys who don't get caught?  Trump would have offered turned on this country before even being asked.  Of course, it never would have mattered because he was a draft dodging chicken hawk.  Maybe John McCain wasn't senile.  He just hated himself for defending Trump.  He deserves his own self-loathing for that.

And so I find myself thinking about learned helplessness.  Donald Trump has brutalized the Republican Party.  He has no commitment to any of their policies, his stupidity, corruption and ineptitude may very well stop them from accomplishing anything, his long-term effects on the party are yet to be determined, he has personally done more to Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and others than any Democrat.  And they have decided that they are helpless.

They are, of course, not helpless.  That is critical to the concept of learned helplessness.  It is a psychological reaction to having been tortured.  Seriously, though, take a look at Mitt Romney's face.  Go listen to John McCain's voice during the Comey hearing.  Some of those people, like Tom Cotton, are fully committed to Trump.  Trump's victims, though?  It is worth spending some serious time thinking about what is going on in their heads as they crawl through broken glass to continue defending him.

None of this is to say that they will ever stop.  I still say impeachment is absurdly unlikely.  I don't think the GOP will ever turn on him, no matter what happens.  This is learned helplessness.  Go watch John McCain again.  Go listen to Lindsey Graham.  Go watch Marco Rubio.  Take a look at Mitt Romney.  Remember Megyn Kelly?  Remember how she then interviewed Trump?  Nope.  He brought her to heel.  Nobody in the Republican Party will ever stand up to him.  They will hate every second of it, believing that they have no choice, but no matter what Trump does, the GOP will defend him in lock-step.  Even those most egregiously wronged by him.


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