News & Politics

The Sin of Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is a sin. It is sinful to feel joy in the misfortunes of our enemies. Here’s the oft-cited quote from Proverbs:

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”

Being an ungracious winner doesn’t just reflect badly on your character, it may also get you in trouble with whatever deity you worship. This moral tenet applies to any competitive endeavor, especially politics. Studies show that feelings of schadenfreude can be deep-rooted in those active in the partisan political arena. It’s fine to feel joy over an election outcome—see Trump’s Thank You Tour–as long as those good feelings don’t include an evil twin.

But word must also go out to the losing Democrats and their farther-left companions, who actually (schadenfreude alert) won the popular vote. Stop making it so hard for the victors to resist the temptation.

It’s tough to lose. Remember Billy Beane, former Oakland Athletics general manager, as played by Brad Pitt in the film Moneyball? The scene where he lays in the middle of the field after his A’s stumble in the playoffs? That’s what the internals look like when people who really care lose. The compassionate impulse is to go easy on the vanquished. But the vanquished have to cooperate to some extent. Here’s how the losers in 2016 challenge the boundaries of good taste and invite schadenfreude.

You’re on thin ice when you spend millions on futile recounts which mask true intentions: political activism. This is sour grapes made sourer by crass opportunism.

Hollywood star-shaming has no retail political value when deployed against conservatives, and especially against a Trump movement that just collapsed the Blue Wall. Displays of entertainment figures lecturing or hectoring on politics actually mitigate against a charitable impulse to allow the defeated to lick their wounds in peace.

Fake leftist news, like the possibility of a strategic connection between Russia and the Trump campaign, which was insinuated by Josh Earnest during a White House press conference, provide yet another reason not to trust anything the anti-Trump media says, and to feel a sinful rush of schadenfreude as each new Trump success story puts the lie to the media’s conspiracy to rob him of legitimacy.

If you’re looking to disparage the Electoral College just because you hoped to make the United States a permanent Clinton Archipelago and failed, look for schadenfreude parties every time you get your clock cleaned.

Violent demonstrations not only rewrite the rules of schadenfreude, they provoke in vast majorities a rooting interest in your continued disempowerment.

I’m not convinced that Martha Raddatz cried on election night. Stricken, but not tearful, is how I would describe her. For Trump believers, and any honest observer, she was an obviously biased debate moderator. So partisan that it’s tempting to revel in her reaction to the ultimate turn of events.

The real tear was shed by SNL’s Kate McKinnon, in an evocative post-election rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”  McKinnon, despite the fact that going forward she will savage Trump many times over, showed the Billy Beane side of losing. Only the most hard-hearted competitor experiences feelings of schadenfreude in these circumstances. (Cohen died on November 7).

With Late Night’s Stephen Colbert, you get all the stages of grief, in no particular order. Theory has it that he’s pulling in a measurable “schadenfreude demographic” with an angst-fest that even leftists wonder how long he can keep up. Real Time host Bill Maher went on hiatus just as the reality of Trump’s win was settling over the artistic community, but he’ll get his comeuppance: his birthday is January 20th.

Hoisted by his own prescience, Michael Moore (along with Ann Coulter) predicted Trump’s win.

Admit it, Trump fans (guilty). You’ve watched the meltdown compilations on YouTube. People you’ve never heard of, like the Young Turks, becoming internet sensations after election-night meltdowns. People you have heard of, like Rachel Maddow, bottoming out so badly that the first response is empathy, not schadenfreude.  Then you remember what she’s all about. While trying not to take too much pleasure in the progressives’ resounding loss, you’re damn glad their ideologies and policies got repudiated.

Henceforth (that is, after Maher’s birthday), the victors of 2016 should roll back the schadenfreude. If you’re trying to follow a certain religious path, you’ve got to walk the walk, and resist temptation.

But please, Democrats, get a grip, and stop making it so difficult.