One of the most negative nights in American history is connected to one of our country’s most “positive” movements, notes GEN’s Douglas Rushkoff in his recap of the train wreck that was the first of three presidential “debates” between Joe Biden and Donald Trump:
“… to understand our president’s great vulnerability — as well as the way it played out last night — you have to understand the magical tradition that informs his actions and beliefs. As a child, Donald Trump went to Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, where every Sunday he listened to the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking. Trump came to believe that the world is manifest through our thoughts. Thinking makes it so. We create our own realities, and those of others, with our thoughts and with our words. It’s all based on the hypnosis of oneself and others.
Why You Don’t Have to Feel Too Sick About What Happened Last Night
A counterintuitively optimistic take on the first presidential debate
Peale, a close friend of Richard Nixon, is one of the only people Trump has cited as a personal inspiration and mentor (he’s referred to him as his “pastor” growing up, and Peale officiated Trump’s first wedding). The president is one of millions of people influenced by Peale’s teachings, even though the self-improvement guru’s techniques have been criticized by experts ever since the book was published in 1952.
And for good reason. Much of the “power of positive thinking” involves channeling narcissism through a kind of rhetorical hypnosis.
The best defense for this kind of bullying, whether you’re on a debate stage or in a meeting at work or on a call with a politically opposite family member? See it as an attempt at mind control. Your subject will instantly seem more desperate than dominating. And if you pay less attention to what they’re saying and more on how they’re saying it, the next time you face off, you’ll be a lot more ready to handle their attacks.