Opinion: Trump is gaslighting Americans with his words

Jeanna Torline, Staff Writer

Election Night, 2:22 a.m., President Donald J. Trump came out with a speech that rocked the media for the days and weeks following, and did it once again only days later, November 5th. His claim? Widespread voter fraud across the United States, particularly the Democrat-run swing states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan. In these speeches, the President throws around lies, misinformation, and fuels the fire of political divide using techniques that are scarily comparable to that of gaslighting. 

Gaslighting, according to psychologytoday.com, “is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.” Now, President Trump doesn’t fit these descriptions perfectly, but taking direct quotes from the Election Night and November 7th speeches and comparing them to the 11 signs provided by “11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting” by Psychology Today, there’s undeniable similarities to be found.

Number One: 

The first example the website provides is the telling of blatant lies. In both of Trump’s speeches, he spoke of allegations of fraud and claims of election interference, however, a few statements that can be proven completely false come from the November 7th speech. Trump said: “In Georgia a pipe burst in a far away location, totally unrelated to the location of what was happening.” He was referring to a pipe that burst in the Atlanta State Farm Arena in Fulton County, Georgia. This inconvenience caused the voter count to be delayed by approximately four hours or so, as it was reported. State Farm Arena was where the county’s ballots were being both held and counted, though none were damaged according to an article by complex.com. 

Number Two:

Another gaslighting feature, according to Psychology Today, is “They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.” President Trump, in this case, uses America itself as the ammunition. During Trump’s election night speech, he spoke to the nation, a call to action, saying: “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country.” President Trump uses this to fuel the flames of uncertainty in the ongoing process. Americans, as we all know, are patriotic and take pride in their country, systems, and culture. A claim of an attack against America itself, to some, if not most Americans, is a call to arms, to defend their beloved nation from a fraud that is allegedly happening. 

Number Three:

Warning number four: “They wear you down over time.” The examples of this are everywhere, however they are more prominent in the second speech. Every sentence or every other sentence was a claim to voter fraud or an alleged rigging by the Democratic party, and although it’s a short timespan, listening to the same bold claim over and over again can sometimes allow you to question if it’s really true or even start to believe it. This speech is approximately 17 minutes long, and during these few minutes Trump mentions fraud, legal and illegal, stolen, corrupt and corruption, phony, etc. a whopping 34 times. That’s twice a minute for the entire speech. 

Number Four:

Five: “Their actions do not match their words.” President Donald Trump has said many times that he cares for America, after all, his 2016 campaign slogan was the infamous “Make America Great Again” commonly abbreviated as MAGA, and his 2020 is “Keep America Great.” Yet the president is arguably doing the exact opposite. Yes, great is a relative term, there is no definition, however I think most every American can agree that fueling the fires of a possible political war is simply not it. Trump villainizes the Democratic party, the candidates and the voters alike, while praising his own, creating a stark contrast and divide. “Democrats are the party of the big donors, the big media, the big tech… it seems, and the Republicans have become the party of the American worker.” Trump stated during his speech at the Whitehouse, later in the same speech saying “The officials overseeing counting in Pennsylvania are all part of a corrupt democrat regime.” The president relates these same key terms he’s put on the election and puts them on the other side, sparking civil unrest between the two sides throughout the nation. That, no matter what party you affiliate yourself with, is no way to make a country great.

Number Five:

Warning sign seven: “They know confusion weakens people”. This is better defined by Psychology Today as “…people like to have a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything”. The key states Trump was losing during the election, especially Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia, their key Democratic capitals, and their voting system as well as integrity were all very harshly accused of being almost entirely fraudulent. The accusations caused massive confusion among the American public, and really the world. Recounts happened, Trump’s supporter base began to echo his accusations, as well as some well known members of the GOP. When Trump began to make claims of voter fraud, there was nothing but confusion, especially because there had been no definite proof or even inkling of a clue revealed to the public that these events could be occurring behind closed doors.

Number Six:

Warning sign eight is projection. For example, someone who abuses drugs might accuse you of drug use, or someone who skips work or classes may try and pin something like that on you. With Trump, the most notable are his lies and deception. Donald Trump, as we know, accuses most against him to be liars, frauds, and deceitful, but isn’t that just Trump projecting? Just looking at the election itself, Trump’s entire basis for suing and fighting for recounts is based on a lie. The lie that there has been fraud displayed all over the country, when really, there hasn’t been proof of more than a few resolved cases, not by the media, not by poll watchers, and not by any government officials or state representatives. In fact, it’s been said that this has been the smoothest run Pennsylvania election in years! The entire claim was made by Trump, one big lie that he’s trying to put on everyone against him. 

Number Seven & Eight:

This leads us into both nine, “They align people against you.” and eleven “They tell you everyone else is a liar.” These last two can be applied strongly to Trump supporters, his core base that he’s been speaking to throughout the duration of both his 2016 and 2020 campaigns. Being honest, Trump has been pushing his base further against him slowly, turning them against President-Elect Joe Biden and the Democratic party as a whole since mail in voting became a topic of conversation. “I have been talking about this for many months with all of you. And I’ve said very strongly mail in ballots are going to end up being a disaster,” Trump said in his election night speech, further reinforcing that he’s been right the entire time. During this time he’s been pushing that the Democratic party is lying, about the election, about the ballots, about the fraud, aligning the two sides against one another slowly. He’s giving his supporters someone to fight. At the same time, he’s giving Democrats a target to hit, making them argumentative and even resentful of his own supporter base.

TD;LR:

Donald Trump is gaslighting his supporter base along with the American public, and fueling the fires of a politically driven civil war that could tear America apart for years to come if nothing is done about it.

Donald Trump 2020 Election Night Speech Transcript

 

Donald Trump White House Press Conference as Election Counts Continue Transcript November 5