If nothing else, trump is the perfect trickster. On November 8, 2016, I had a complete meltdown when I realized he had won. I was no Clinton fan, but voted for her when Bernie lost the primary. Now, thanks to Donna Brazille’s book, we know that the DNC was rigged for Clinton and against Bernie.
Here’s the thing, though. If the democrats hope to make gains in the 2018 midterms and to win the White House in 2020, they need to get their act together and move farther to the left. The status quo is no longer relevant. Forget Pelosi. Forget Biden. Forget the old guard. The paradigm is changing and if the dems don’t change with it, they are doomed to implode.
The trickster archetype that sneaks up on us in the dark is a deceiver, liar, cheat, and thief who figures he can get away with something while we’re distracted. He flips the status quo on its head and sometimes does so with a wry twist of irony. When he reveals some dark undercurrent about ourselves and the culture in which we live that we would rather ignore, synchronicity is often involved.
The trickster appears in mythology, literature, movies and television, and ultimately manifests in real life. Without a doubt, Donald Trump may be its ultimate trickster among us. He’s admired by some, despised by many. He’s reckless and ruthless. One moment he’s savvy and cunning. The next he’s dumb and dumber rolled into one. He’s the president of the United States and without a doubt he’s Trickster #1.
The word synchronicity was coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who defined it as the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that is meaningful to the observer and can’t be explained by cause and effect. The simplest example of a synchronicity associated with Trump is his name. It means to “outrank or defeat someone of something, often in a highly public way.” Like in a presidential election. “In the card game bridge, the trump card is the most powerful card in a particular round and defeats all the others — sort of like when your needs or wishes trump someone else’s. Originally trump implied a deceptive form of victory involving cheating, but that sense has been largely lost, though it’s still around in the term trumped up, meaning something that’s been falsely made up.”
As an archetype, the trickster is found in dreams, fantasies, folklore, legends, hallucinations, movies, novels, and mythology. Loki in Norwegian mythology was the son of giants and enjoyed stirring up trouble among the gods. He could shape shift, change his gender, and was often a boisterous bully. Likewise, in Native American lore, coyote is often depicted as a trickster. His more familiar counterpart is Wile E Coyote, a cartoon character who always came up with bizarre and ridiculous ways to pursue his prey.
The mythologist Joseph Campbell considered the trickster one of the most significant figures in Native American folklore. It “represents this power of the dynamic of the total psyche to overthrow programs. In the forest lands of the Northeast and the Southeast, it’s the Great Hare, the rabbit. When you go west of the Mississippi, in the plains, it’s coyote. You get up to the northwest coasts, and it’s raven. These are smart and clever birds and animals.” The trickster is “an upsetting factor,” Campbell says, “he breaks through….”
Trump has been called a bully for his angry Twitter tweets, usually sent out when he feels slighted—which is often. He uses Twitter to humiliate and berate women, figures in the media, people of color, members of his own party, and anyone who criticizes him.
He does so seemingly to stir up trouble, which in turn drives the day’s news as the media attempts to keep up with his varying and often contradictory opinions on people and issues. His tweets attempt top distract from the Russia investigation into the hacking of our 2016 election. His tweets also ensure that he’ll be at the center of all the news. Like Darth Vader, one of the darkest tricksters, Trump engages in a war of words and threats with the likes of Kim Jong Un, the despicable despot of North Korea, and with leaders of countries that are considered our allies.
The dark trickster serves what Jung called the Shadow, those unexpressed parts of our personalities. In fact, the dark trickster is a favorite figure in American movies – Joker in the Batman franchise, particularly as played by Heath Ledger in Dark Knight Rising– and may be the paragon of this archetype.
Jung saw this kind of trickster as an expression of an “earlier, rudimentary type of consciousness.” In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, he wrote: “He is both subhuman and superhuman, a bestial and divine being, whose chief and most alarming characteristics is his unconsciousness…”
His unconsciousness is an intriguing term when applied to Trump. He tweets in the early morning hours when his handlers – like chief of staff General Kelly – are asleep. These freewheeling tweets often unravel the very things he attempts to implement, like the travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries. On October 18, 2017 the ban on travelers from six countries was supposed to go into effect. But two federal district courts – in Hawaii and Maryland – shot down the ban. Judge Theodore Chuang judge in the district of Maryland included a detailed history of Trump’s tweets to back up his opinion on the ban. In fact, his tweets have been used twice before by federal judges to block the ban.
One of the most egregious tweets he made was on August 17, 2017:
“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
The reference to Pershing is false, but the reference suggests that Muslims should be shot with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.
In 1938, Carl Jung told an American reporter that Hitler was “the loudspeaker which magnified the inaudible whispers of the German soul.”
It may be that Trump is the loudspeaker for the inaudible whispers of that faction of the American soul that feels disenfranchised and marginalized by a rapidly changing world.
Is he also the personification of the ultimate American Trickster, the ultimate con artist of the 21st century?