An Empire Unto Himself
Taking advantage of such structural changes, Trump has changed the rules of the game. Trump would never offer to get treatment to save his job. He would never ask for a second chance. If you are emailing your friends asking for support, if you say you will seek treatment, if you are hoping for another chance, you are already—in Trump’s grade school terms—a loser: reality’s victim, not its maker. The game is over. And so is the pleasure, because the pleasure is in dominating reality. That is why, as credible reports of women charging Trump with assault surfaced last year—roughly fourteen of them—Trump gathered around him for the second presidential debate three women who claimed they had been assaulted by the husband of his opponent. Rather than distance himself from the issue aired by the Access Hollywood tape, Trump greedily embraced it, creating a reality in which he, without a hint of shame, took on the role of defender of the wronged. It surely never occurred to Hillary, who was still playing by the old rules, to surround herself with the victims of Trump’s predations.
Most women know the fear of being disbelieved. Almost none know the power of saying ‘no one will believe you.’
The lag between old rules and new ones played in Trump’s favor: if the charges against Trump were true, he would surely show some shame at the exposure, right? His lack of shame was taken by many to evidence not a new kind of horrifying shamelessness, but rather innocence of the charges, or at the very least, their irrelevance. In fact, however, this itself was for Trump one more emboldening victory over reality itself.
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