The term gaslighting comes from the 1930s play "Gas Light," in which a husband wants to steal his wife's family fortune by making her believe she's crazy and having her committed to an institution. To do it, he turns down the old gas lights so that the lighting grows more and more faint. When she remarks about the occurrence, her husband insists she's imagining it. She ultimately is forced to question everything around her because he makes her feel like she's crazy.
According to editor Lauren Duca at "Teen Vogue," this is exactly what Donald Trump is doing to Americans.
After the news came out on Friday night in which the CIA confirmed the Russians hacked both the DNC and the RNC, the Trump transition team called the finding from the 17 intelligence agencies another example of fake news.
"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the statement explained."The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.'"
Interestingly, this wasn't one of the largest Electoral College victories in history, not by a long shot. But Duca wondered if Trump claiming that it was could have been part of his distraction from the actual news that his election could be founded on a fraud against the American people.
"A foreign government's interference in our election is a threat to our freedom, and the President-elect's attempt to undermine the American people's access to that information undermines the very foundation upon which this country was built," Duca wrote. "It's also nothing new."
She explained that Trump won the presidency by gaslighting the American electorate. He not only "awakened bigots everywhere by condoning and encouraging hatred" but he also "normalized deception."
Nothing could confirm Duca's claim of gaslighting more than those who say that claims like these are "melodramatic" or "hyperbolic."
"I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to 'Duel of the Fates,'" she wrote. "Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up."
Gaslighting is psychological manipulating a person. It's a form of emotional abuse. It's what Duca says Trump has done to the United States.
"He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites," she wrote. "He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias."
As John Oliver pointed out, Trump and his supporters have managed to turn opinions into facts, which Duca says blinds us into "arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question."
"There is a long list of receipts when it comes to Trump's lies," she notes, citing PolitiFact's "clear-cut examples of deception include Trump saying that he watched thousands of people cheering on 9/11 in Jersey City (police say there's no evidence of this), that the Mexican government forces immigrants into the U.S. (no evidence), that there are '30 or 34 million' immigrants in this country (there are 10 or 11 million), that he never supported the Iraq War (he told Howard Stern he did), that the unemployment rate is as high as '42 percent' (the highest reported rate is 16.4 percent), that the U.S. is the highest taxed country in the world (not true based on any metric of consideration), that crime is on the rise (it's falling, and has been for decades), and too many other things to list here because the whole tactic is to clog the drain with an indecipherable mass of toxic waste. The gas lighting part comes in when the fictions are disputed by the media, and Trump doubles down on his lies, before painting himself as a victim of unfair coverage, sometimes even threatening to revoke access."
Trump works to undermine all of the media, whether it's a respectable outlet or an individual's blog. Even if videos themselves show something that Trump has said, he would look straight into the camera and deny it. If you claim that you saw him say something different, clearly, you're insane. Are the gas lights dimming yet?
"As a candidate, Trump's gas lighting was manipulative, as President-elect, it is a deliberate attempt to destabilize journalism as a check on the power of government," she wrote.
If Trump causes the country to question the reliability of dependable news outlets, he will get away with anything and everything.
"The President of the United States cannot be lying to the American electorate with zero accountability," Duca wrote. "The threat of deception is not a partisan issue. Trump took advantage of the things that divide this country, pitting us against one another, while lying his way to the Oval Office. Yes, everything is painfully clear in hindsight, but let’s make sure Trump’s win was the Lasik eye surgery we all so desperately needed."
If you saw Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," you saw the boiling pot with the frog in it. If the water goes from cold to a boil the frog jumps out. If the heat is gradually increased, the frog doesn't notice and dies. Duca notes that the water isn't boiling just yet but "Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high."
Her call to action is for all of us to stand up for actual truth, not opinion, but facts. We should insist on fact-checking every single one of Trump's statements. If there are inaccuracies in an article you should send it to an editor. People must be informed about which outlets are trustworthy and which are not and not be afraid to ask questions. Regardless of anyone's beliefs or politics, everyone must support government transparency. Trump isn't a clown on TV anymore, he's the president of the United States.
"If facts become a point of debate, the very definition of freedom will be called into question," she wrote.
Duca explains that there is a lot that we still have to face. Americans still need to decide if their new president is a sexual predator, for example.
"It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering," she closed. "As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth."