The word “derange” originates from a combination of things that basically mean to move things out of line. Broadly, it means to disorder or throw things into chaos. In medicine, the term is used to describe things that throw the operation of the body out of its normal operations. In the common use, derangement is used to describe someone who has become unhinged, unbalanced, crazy.
So, in our fraught political environment, the phrase “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (TDS) was coined to describe people who have a hyperbolic or paranoid reaction to anything Donald Trump does. If you’re trying to imagine someone with TDS, think of the person who says, “Trump is literally Hitler!”
Obviously, Trump is not even figuratively Hitler. Trump is quite awful, but he’s not in any sort of position to carry out things that are anywhere close to what Hitler did with Germany. So, there’s an element of hyperbole in that which is so beyond the pale that some liken it to a sort of mental derangement. Hence, TDS.
Insofar as some people have an outsized, negative reaction to everything the president does, you could call it “derangement,” but I think there’s a different sort of Trump Derangement Syndrome that is more common and more dangerous. (Note: the phrase TDS is used to belittle the concerns of those opposed to President Trump, so I understand that it’s not intended to communicate that TDS is a real problem. Here, I’m suggesting we take TDS seriously, if not literally.) The more disturbing form of TDS is the one that goes in the other direction: outsized support for President Trump from conservatives.
Support for Donald Trump from traditional conservatives makes very little sense. The traditional conservative talk track is about free markets, rule of law, and Judeo-Christian virtue. Trump has gone against each one of those guiding principles in different ways while he was president.
Free markets? His use of tariffs is a prime example of his opposition to free markets. But if you prefer something more “local,” then consider those huge farm subsidies to cover the devastation created by those tariffs. No matter how you slice it, one cannot claim that Trump has any principled commitment to free markets.
Rule of law? People debate and argue about whether he obstructed justice, violated the emoluments clause, history of fraud, defamation, and other allegations, but consider his use of presidential pardon powers. A number of those are clear cut violations of the law and the perpetrators have no redeeming qualities that might justify a pardon, eg. Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza. Unless you consider partisanship a virtue, of course.
Upholding, demostrating Judeo-Christian values? Surely, you’re joking. Putting aside the rape allegations and the Billy Bush recording, let’s just point out that he cheated on his first wife with his second wife on whom he cheated with his third wife. Some Christians don’t even think you can remarry after divorce without committing adultery, but he’s just a straight-up adulterer. That’s huge problem according to the Bible.
If you take a broader look at things, what it meant to be a Republican when I was a kid in the Regan years, it’s radically different from what it means today under Trump. I think you could even argue that it means something different from what it meant under Bush or even in the eyes of the Tea Party.
Although I see Trump as a symptom, not a cause of our current political ills, the shift at the federal level under Trump has been jarring. And partisanship appears to me to be at an all-time high. Republicans are primarily defined by their loyalty to Trump these days. I almost said that they were defined by party loyalty, but anyone who has argued that Trump is destructive to the party’s future success seems to get drummed out.
So, it’s perplexing to see a long-time conservative like Lindsey Graham, for example, bend over so far backwards to support Trump. Or those Trump supporters wearing t-shirts that say they’d rather be Russian than a Democrat. Really? Or that guy who said he’d have to think about whether he’d support Trump against ANY other Democrat if Trump explicitly claimed to be a racist. It’s not normal or sane. I’d say it’s deranged.
Therefore, if we accept that TDS Type 1 is the form that leads to irrational, uncharacteristically charged negative reactions to Donald Trump; let’s also say that TDS Type 2 is a form that leads to irrational, uncharacteristically charged positive reactions to Donald Trump.