inessential by Brent Simmons

The Cool Kids Psychosis

One way to explain Donald Trump is to think of him as a fourth-grader who desperately wants the approval of the cool kids. He wants to be in their club.

And then, when he feels like he doesn’t get that approval and respect and an invitation to join in — whether the club is Manhattan society, the billionaire’s club, the serious politicians club — he feels like that approval has been withheld unfairly. The cool kids have it rigged against him.

Well, in the face of that unfairness, retaliation against the cool kids by any means necessary — any bullshit and lies whatsoever — is completely justified. They’re evil, and he’s better than them, and whatever it takes to prove that is within bounds.

(One well-trodden route here is the populist option, as if to say, “Those cool kids all think they’re cool, but real people know better. They know I’m the cool one.”)

Children do this sometimes, and it’s awful, and they learn and they grow up.

When adults do it, it’s because they’re psychos.