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I think I finally understand why Donald Trump is the way he is and why the people who support him are the way they are.

The reason is one of those “hiding in plain sight” things I wasn’t seeing until a therapist friend of many years opened my eyes.

She wasn’t trying to. She simply made a comment in a conversation about Trump and his supporters we were having. “We are an adolescent culture,” she said, “born of rebellion.”

At that moment my eyes were opened to what I should have seen all along. Trump lives in perpetual adolescence and so do Trumpers.

My friend was describing the American story. Our country was born in rebellion against King George III’s tyrannical actions of forcing colonists to pay heavy taxes to support the British soldiers he had placed in the new land to exert British control.

The Sons of Liberty were founded in 1765 in response to George’s actions. “Taxation without Representation” became their battle cry, eventually leading to the infamous Boston Tea Party of 1773.

King George grew more tyrannical rather than less after that incident, imposing punitive laws and heavier taxes on the colonists that came to be known as the Intolerable Acts.

In 1774 the first Continental Congress was called together to petition the King to repeal the Acts. He flatly refused and war broke out in April of 1775 in the battles of Lexington and Concord. The rest, of course, is history.

America, then, is quite literally a nation born of rebellion that has become the hallmark of the American spirit. Governmental authority has always been looked upon with suspicion, which is why after the Revolution our founders chose first to form a Confederation that left the national government with no power and at the mercy of the states.

It failed miserably, leading to the writing of the Constitution and its ultimate ratification in June of 1788. On that date, the United States, at least in name, became a nation that was a mere adolescent country in the context of the history of the world.

We still are in so many ways, though our military and economic power often blinds us to how young a nation we are and how older nations see us.

That power also accounts for the fact that we do not see ourselves as having a rebellious spirit so characteristic of adolescence, yet all of us as Americans show that spirit from time to time. Any pastor will tell you he or she sees it all the time in church, but it’s everywhere.

Most of us manage to keep a lid on our adolescent behavior. We tear up the letter or delete an email we know we shouldn’t send. We try to calm down before quitting our job or retaliating against an aggravating neighbor.

On the world stage America has wielded its power and arrogance in ways that resemble an adolescent bully that has created resentment toward America around the world. Nations may depend on us, but they don’t always like us. Trump has made that reality worst than it has ever been.

Here at home many Americans are unable to grow out of their individual adolescence. Recently a clergy colleague described his encounter with an adolescent Trumper who also happened to be a friend of his. The person had posted something on Facebook that was false. This colleague responded to his friend that it was inappropriate to post something he knew to be false. The response he got was what you might expect, a tirade laced with profanity so typical of a rebellious adolescent.

Protesters against safety policies governors have in place and who are now refusing to wear masks or maintain safety distances reflect a similar kind of adolescent behavior. Trump, of course, is the adolescent-in-chief, so what can we do given the fact that he is President?

I confess to having little wisdom on the matter, but I can share some things I am trying to do in order to protect my own sanity, ineffective at times as I may be in taking my own advice.

First, I try to remember that the best thing parents of a rebellious teenager can do is to set their own boundaries.

There is little they can do to stop their teenager from acting out. My therapist friend affirms what I have read, that the brain of an adolescent is not fully formed and therefore he or she cannot be reasoned with. Parents have to hope and pray their son or daughter will survive long enough for their brain to develop sufficiently for them to mature emotionally and see how childish they are acting.

Unfortunately, Trump and Trumpers present an even greater problem because they are adult adolescents. You understand adolescents who are real adolescents, though they may drive you crazy, but when you are dealing with adult adolescents the problem seems virtually hopeless.

The best thing we can do is to set boundaries for ourselves that are impervious to adult adolescent words and behavior. We can keep up with the news without reading every story there is about Trump. We can spend our time on other things besides Facebook and Twitter and the like. We can watch shows and movies that make us laugh and music that helps us relax.

The point is, while we cannot exert influence on Trump or Trumpers, we can protect ourselves from them better than most of us are probably doing. I have had to learn that the hard way, but I am making progress.

A second thing we can do is to keep expectations of both Trump and his supporters very low.

At this point I am neither shocked nor enraged by what Trump says or does anymore because I have accepted the fact that he is always going to be corrupt, self-centered, petty, vindictive, and defiant when it comes to accountability.

Most Trumpers can be described in the same way. They curse anyone who dares to ask them to wear a mask. One of them shot a worker in a MacDonald’s.

It is a waste of time and energy to have expectations for these people we would ordinarily have. We are better off to expect nothing but the worst of them and move on. Anything we might say to them or write on Facebook or Twitter in response will be to satisfy a need in ourselves more than any hope of having an effect on them.

A third thing is to bear in mind that adolescent behavior eventually runs its course. Teenagers grow up, whether by choice or by societal force, learning that responsibility must accompany the exercise of freedom and that actions do have consequences.

I think the nation’s tolerance for Trump’s adolescent behavior is headed in that direction. He is wearing people down emotionally and at some point regardless of how you feel about him you realize that he is just not worth the emotional drain dealing with him involves.

My brother recently said something that has stayed with me. He said that there was a time when he seldom thought about a President on a daily basis, but with Trump it feels like an everyday occurrence because of something outrageous he has said or done. He is in your face all the time and it wears you down.

I think more and more people are feeling the same way to the point where we feel like four more years of Trump truly will drive us all crazy as we watch him destroy our democratic institutions altogether.

We are finally seeing him and all Trumpers for what they are, Americans still living out of their adolescence as if they cannot or will not grow up.

Much to our regret, this will go on a little while longer, but Trump’s adolescent behavior will eventually be his undoing, and he will take down all the adolescent followers he has with him.

So like parents of a rebellious teenager, we have to hang in there, attend to our own emotional health and trust the nation will survive just as most families do.

The really good thing is that we don’t have to wait for our adolescent-in-chief to grow up. In a few months, we will have the chance to throw him out of the house and kick his friends off the front lawn.

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