An online petition created by Democratic congresswoman, Karen Bass is calling for a mental health evaluation of Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump. It has over 12,000 signatures as of this writing.
Emboldened by the petition, armchair mental health experts and self-identified Progressives™ are now using the #DiagnoseTrump hashtag to suggest Trump has narcissistic personality disorder or is on the autism spectrum.
Never mind that even psychiatric experts would be in violation of the APA’s ‘Goldwater Rule’ in armchair diagnosing a public figure; suggesting that a mental health condition is at the core of why Trump is a threat is both profoundly ableist and ignorant of the United States’ political past and present.
First, let’s unpack the suggestion that a mental illness and/or neurodivergence should inherently disqualify someone from the Presidency. A recent survey found Abraham Lincoln to be the most popular President in US history, with Thomas Jefferson ranking fifth. Lincoln lived with depression and suicidal ideation during his Presidency, and historical records strongly suggest that if Jefferson wasn’t autistic, he was certainly far from neurotypical.
The idea that Trump has autism is based on the ableist myth that autistics are incapable of empathy and prone to violence. Linking Trump’s bigotry to neurodivergence is every bit as bigoted as suggesting Hillary Clinton’s lady-brain renders her incapable of being President.
That Progressives™ are so ready to throw neurodivergent people under the bus should be astonishing given the popularity of #BellLetsTalk, a movement to destigmatize mental illness and tell people it’s safe to come out and talk about it.
It has been very troubling to watch #DiagnoseTrump trending when the #Sagamihara hashtag died on the vine after 19 disabled people were killed by a eugenics advocate in Japan. I thought abled Progressives™, after expressing moral outrage at Trump’s mocking of a disabled reporter, would have been better allies than this.
Abled Progressives™ have been happy to compare Trump to Hitler, who killed a quarter-million neurodivergent people in the holocaust. Watching them now call Trump neurodivergent to score political points should give everyone’s sense of irony a workout.
I had a lot of randoms in my Twitter mentions when I spoke out against #DiagnoseTrump, most of them Progressives™. My favourite was someone pointing out that Lincoln and Jefferson didn’t have access to nuclear weapons.
Besides the hilarity of suggesting that the man who said “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends” would have been a prime candidate for World Destroyer, the idea that we would somehow only be ableist when it comes to the job of POTUS is patently absurd. Employment discrimination is rampant for mentally ill people because of attitudes like the one driving #DiagnoseTrump. I have not once received a job interview when disclosing my disabilities, and I have been taken off a work schedule immediately upon disclosing a mental illness.
I wasn’t handling nukes. Just cash.
So why do Progressives™ feel they need to chalk up the callousness of Trump to mental illness? Well, like with every time a white person targets a marginalized group in a mass shooting, it’s easier to invoke mental illness than it is to interrogate the ableism, white supremacy, unchecked privilege, and toxic masculinity in the mainstream of our society that the Donald Trumps and Dylann Roofs of the world are merely an extension of.
Even if Trump were neurodivergent, it would be far from the reason why he’s so dangerous. Bigotry is not a mental illness; suggesting that it is only hurts us. So instead of throwing disabled and mentally ill people under the bus, Progressives™ ought to clean their own house first.