Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
The daily onslaught by broadcast and print media in recent days questioning the competence and mental status of President Trump is going to backfire and enable him to emerge stronger and more beloved to the American public than ever before.
This unethical and biased use of mental health and psychiatry has been used in the past and has failed. It seems that President Trump’s opponents and the Democratic Party have forgotten about the Goldwater Rule, named after Senator Barry Goldwater, a five-term Republican senator from Arizona and the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 1964. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the Goldwater Rule is “an ethics principle that guides our physician members not to provide professional opinions in the media about the mental health of someone they have not personally examined and without patient consent or other legal authority.”
In 1964, Fact magazine published an issue with the headline “1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater is Psychologically Unfit to be President!” The publication had polled psychiatrists about whether Senator Goldwater was fit to be president. Goldwater lost the election but sued the editor of Fact for libel and won.
What President Trump’s defamers seem to ignore and most likely deny is what brought Trump to win the presidential election against all odds. Not since the heyday of Ronald Reagan’s presidency has Middle America, dormant throughout the Obama presidency, come back to life, stirred to make their voices heard.
Donald Trump represents for Middle America–also known by some as the silent majority–that sense of longing for better times. Donald Trump empowers Middle America with an unshakeable belief that he is their president and can be the answer to their life struggles. Donald Trump represents the embodiment of not telling Middle America how to think, what to do, or which bathrooms to use. He has galvanized not only conservative voters but all voters to reject the dictates of the “establishment,” the elites, and the media. He has given the country back to the people. His supporters hear President Trump speak on their behalf and only for them; he is beholden to no one other than the American public.
So while every TV station, radio station, and website is talking about nothing other than the competency and mental status of President Trump, it becomes relatively easy to identify whose side the media is on and how they have been enlisted to discredit and delegitimize President Trump. This timed and concerted effort to falsely portray him as incompetent is strikingly familiar to how the media in Israel and the Israeli establishment elites have made every effort to keep Benjamin Netanyahu from being prime minister; the similarities are unmistakable.
Despite Netanyahu being repeatedly reelected over the past two decades, and despite continuing support for him among the Israeli voting public, every day brings new accusations and headlines attempting to tarnish his political viability. In Israel, every day is open season on Netanyahu. Despite the complex political reality, he had to deal with eight years of little support from the previous U.S. Democratic administration and President Obama, an asymmetrical Palestinian Arab terror wave, and regional threats such as Iran and Hezbollah in the north.
However, in the last elections, Netanyahu was credited with being the only political candidate that brought out Israel’s silent majority, giving the Likud party a commanding lead taking the election at a walk. How did he do it? By speaking the truth, by not blaming the victims, by holding the Palestinian Arabs accountable for the lack of a peace agreement, by defending Israeli interests first and foremost, by making the economy strong and providing jobs, by providing education and health at a reasonable cost to the average Israeli, and by providing a quality of life and sense of wellbeing that allows a majority of Israeli citizens a sense of community.
This is similar to the message that President Trump conveys to the American public. Trump has tapped into the feeling that the public’s personal life struggles are his struggles. Let’s make America strong, let’s make the economy strong, let’s create jobs and improve the American standard of living for all. Trump has connected to the people–he is accessible in the media and tweets at all hours, engaging his supporters and enraging his enemies–with thousands of people waiting in long lines and bad weather to attend wherever he visits.
Many know Trump to be a flawed candidate and many think he is even a flawed man, yet they feel that he is no different than they are with their own flaws. He is translating a weakness into political strength; they hear Trump speaking on their behalf, and only for them.
No amount of psychiatric jargon will alter the public perception that President Trump is doing the job that has to be done. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 6.8 percent unemployment rate for African-American workers in December, the lowest level since 1972, when the government began tracking such data. This is the power of Trump, and this is the reason that questions of competence and mental status will be inconsequential blips during the Trump era.
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.