"Magical thinking" happens when people believe that their thoughts, by themselves, can bring about change in the real world. Psychologists tell us that magical thinking is most prevalent in children between the ages of 2 and 7. An example would be, say, when a child is sad and it begins to rain, and the child attempts to make it go away by singing a happy song.
We are now living in the golden age of magical thinking, a time in which many Americans well past the age of 7 seem to think that if they believe something strongly enough, they can make it true.
For example, two Tennessee lawmakers, state Senator Mae Beavers (who else?) and state Representative Mark Pody are introducing a bill that says ... well, let me just put it here, verbatim: "Natural marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman as recognized by the people of Tennessee remains the law in Tennessee, regardless of any court decision to the contrary. Any court decision purporting to strike down natural marriage, including (a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision), is unauthoritative, void, and of no effect."
Beavers and Pody apparently believe (1) that the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage was just a suggestion, and (2) that if they just legislate hard enough they can come up with a state bill that magically trumps the law of the land. Of course, given the proclivities of our hillbilly heroes in Nashville, this bit of foolishness will probably pass, leading to expensive legal fees for the state and much derision from the rest of the country. For Jesus, of course.
Other examples? How about Kim Davis, magically thinking that she can wish away that same Supreme Court ruling, and Mike Huckabee magically casting Davis as a persecuted Christian martyr? Or Carly Fiorina, imagining a scene that never happened from a video attacking Planned Parenthood, and using it as a cudgel in the last GOP debate? Even when confronted with the evidence of her mistake on Fox News, of all places, Fiorina determinedly held her ground. "Who you gonna believe?" she seemed to be saying. "Me or your pesky facts?"
Or the Republicans in Congress voting over and over and over again to repeal Obamacare, when they know the votes aren't there. Math, schmath! Let's click our heels and vote again! Real hard, this time.
The sad thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. Much of the public seems to have confused "reality" with reality television. All Donald Trump has to do is keep wearing his "Make America Great Again!" hat, and that's all the evidence these folks need. It's right there in front of their eyes. So it must be true.
In the last GOP debate, Rand Paul attempted rational discourse, saying that Trump's making fun of people's appearance was "sophomoric." Trump's response? "I haven't made fun of your appearance. And there's a lot to work with there." Big laughs.
Politics has been reduced to entertainment — The Bachelor, with one-liners and homelier people. Resistance appears futile. I guess we just have to let the magic happen.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...