Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying their existence while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It can take the form of blame shifting.
Does that sound familiar to you? If you have been following politics at all for the last few years it should. It’s all the rage. And no one is better at it (or at rage, come to think of it) than the Trump campaign. But not out of some psychological disorder … wait let me rephrase that, not just out of some psychological disorder, but deliberately and with malice aforethought. Take, for example, the recent accusation that the Cruz campaign is using “Gestapo tactics.”
Talk about the pot calling the kettle a Nazi.
This is utterly transparent. People have (correctly) accused Trump of “strong-arm” tactics and threatening delegates, so to deflect that criticism they simply (incorrectly) accuse Cruz of doing it. Of course in the case of Trump, this is a million times more effective because his minions will take what the campaign says, turn the volume up to 11, and repeat it on an endless loop forever. They still tweet about Megyn Kelly every single day.
Nor is it just the one they pretend isn’t with them, Roger Stone. All Trump’s employees do it. It would be the longest post in history to put down the times Ann Coulter, for example, has indulged in projection during her advocacy for Trump, but suffice it to say every time she or some other obviously bought Trump lackey accuses others of attacking Trump for money, you should feel free to laugh uproariously.
They are projecting. It is deliberate.
Roger Stone has blatantly, publicly intimidated delegates. He threatened them with the prospect of rabid Trump fans coming to their hotel rooms to ensure that Trump’s will is done. His supporters online, as they do, have quintupled down on that and are handing out home addresses, on Twitter and on blogs and on Facebook. That is intimidation. That is making threats. That is Gestapo.
Stone accuses Cruz of being Nazi-like. He says Cruz should have handcuffs slapped on him. (Now which campaign actually did have someone arrested? Oh right.) He routinely states that any outcome where Trump is not the nominee is a theft. He accuses the Cruz campaign of actual fraud. Trump has outright accused them of committing crimes. Trump fan site the Drudge Report fans the flames of incitement by posting old stories as new again to fire up the gullible Trump base. You know who else were big fans of propaganda??
Katrina Pierson plays this game too, last night telling Wolf Blitzer that the perfectly normal process of approaching delegates in hopes of getting their vote on the second ballot was “hostile” and “malicious”. You know who else used dramatic accusations to incite a frenzied fan base to violent action??
You see what I did there, Manafort? Hey at least when it’s flipped back to you, there’s some semblance of reason.
All Ted Cruz has done is have the audacity to be smarter, more organized, and more effective. He read the instructions. Trump, as he does with everything, simply assumed he’d do well and didn’t bother with the required reading.
Conversely, the Trump campaign has publicly and openly threatened delegates. They have threatened riots. Their supporters are on social media every day promising violence, in those words. They speak of themselves as being at war. All the while Trump and his campaign not only tolerate but encourage it deliberately, working their nasty, vicious base up to a fever pitch. Those supporters are already delivering: punching people at Trump rallies, disclosing people’s home addresses, mocking women as sluts and whores, or even, amazingly, for being recently widowed.
And oh yeah, by the way, making thousands of threatening phone calls, including death threats.
For Cruz’s effrontery in being better at this, he was accused of “Gestapo tactics.” But the truth is, it’s because the Trump campaign projects their own failures and bad qualities onto others that they chose those words. It’s what they do.
After all, why do you think it is that Trump calls everyone he doesn’t like a “loser”? Think about it.