GOP Trump Denunciation Avoidance: What Lies Beneath

Mark Goulston
5 min readJun 18, 2023

In American politics, the Republican Party has faced intense scrutiny regarding its internal dynamics in recent years. The ascendance of Donald Trump and his impact on the party has revealed a pattern of denunciation avoidance among GOP politicians. While it’s understandable that many fear losing their positions by opposing Trump, a deeper examination exposes a psychological phenomenon known as the “outrage enrage bifurcate.”

It’s not hard to see why GOP politicians hesitate to stand against Donald Trump. Their positions define them in many ways, and without an equally defining backup plan, the risk of losing their jobs becomes a significant barrier. Fear of retribution from Trump’s fervent and uncompromising base also plays a significant role in their decision-making. Figures like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger experienced the weight of their dissent, leading to the end of their political careers, at least for the time being.

However, beneath the surface lies a complex psychological phenomenon that sheds light on the intricate dynamics within the GOP. The “outrage enrage bifurcate” describes the uncomfortable reality that most individuals prefer to comply with and agree with those who trigger their rage rather than becoming enraged. Becoming enraged is tantamount to losing control of our most base feelings. This phenomenon reflects an even broader societal trend where people tend to comply with individuals who outrage them rather than confronting the sources head-on and risk becoming enraged. In essence they’re saying, “I’m going along with you, because I don’t want to become angrier.”

You can even understand this in your personal life when in the midst of an argument, one picks up and walks away not out of fear of the other, but fear of becoming even angrier and acting mean and cruel in ways that can’t be taken back.

While some MAGA Republicans and Trump’s staunch base are comfortable with expressing their rage through words and actions, a significant portion of GOP representatives in Congress seem to suffer more from the “outrage enrage bifurcate.” Instead of embracing their anger towards Trump, they choose to superficially support him to avoid experiencing the full destructive force of their internalized rage.

This bifurcation manifests in a couple of ways. By outwardly supporting Trump, they can avoid potential fallout from their constituents and evade grappling with their conflicted feelings. It then becomes a way to navigate partisan politics without directly confronting their internal turmoil.

The “outrage enrage bifurcate” also perpetuates a sense of victimhood within the GOP. By aligning themselves with Trump and his controversial rhetoric, politicians present themselves as victims of the liberal establishment, fighting against an unfair and biased system. This victimhood narrative garners sympathy from like-minded supporters and further shields them from introspection and self-reflection which keeps them away from the rage they feel within.

The “outrage enrage bifurcate” has profound implications for the future of the Republican Party. By avoiding denouncing Trump, GOP politicians risk entrenching anger and resentment within their ranks. Instead of fostering constructive dialogue and nuanced policy-making, they cater to the basest emotions of their constituents, perpetuating a divisive and polarized political landscape.

In this context, the lack of true denunciation becomes more than just a political strategy — it becomes an avoidance of personal and collective responsibility. It stifles growth, reflection, and a healthier political discourse, undermining the integrity of politicians who claim to prioritize principles and values above all else.

To break free from this cycle, GOP elected officials must find the courage to confront their own anger and rage and address it constructively. They must recognize that superficially supporting Trump only perpetuates the rage they seek to avoid. By engaging in honest introspection, they can forge a path towards a more principled and inclusive Republican Party that genuinely contributes to the betterment of the nation.

GOP politicians must understand that true leadership requires more than just avoiding personal discomfort or clinging to political expediency. It demands the courage to stand up for what is right, even if it means facing temporary backlash from the world outside or from their psyche inside. History shows that enduring and respected leaders are those willing to take a principled stand, even when it’s unpopular within their own party and risks intense internal psychological upset.

Succumbing to the “outrage enrage bifurcate” risks losing the respect and trust of a significant portion of the electorate. Many Americans yearn for leaders who can rise above the divisions and offer a unifying vision for the future. By prioritizing personal political and psychological survival over the well-being of the nation, these politicians risk alienating those who seek a more constructive, collaborative and compassionate approach to governance.

To break free from the clutches of the “outrage enrage bifurcate,” GOP politicians must engage in self-reflection and introspection. They need to confront their own fears, frustrations, anger, and rage towards Donald Trump and the corrosive forces that have shaped their party in recent years. By acknowledging these emotions, they can begin the process of healing and transformation.

Additionally, it is crucial for GOP leaders to foster an environment that encourages open dialogue and dissent within their party. They must create spaces where differing opinions are welcomed and respected, where constructive criticism is seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a threat to personal power. By promoting a culture of intellectual diversity, the Republican Party can move beyond the grip of the “outrage enrage bifurcate” and embrace a more inclusive and forward-thinking agenda.

Ultimately, the “outrage enrage bifurcate” within the GOP represents a profound challenge for the party’s future. It is a symptom of deeper issues that require introspection, courage, and a commitment to true leadership. While the fear of job loss and political backlash is understandable, it should not overshadow the fundamental responsibility of elected officials to serve the best interests of the nation and its citizens.

The path forward for the Republican Party lies in embracing a more constructive approach, one that transcends the cycle of anger and resentment. It requires elected officials to rise above personal fears and short-term political calculations and instead focus on the long-term well-being of the nation.

By confronting the “outrage enrage bifurcate” and fostering a culture of integrity, empathy, and open-mindedness, GOP politicians can redefine their party and contribute to a healthier and more inclusive political landscape. Only through such transformative efforts can the Republican Party reclaim its role as a force for positive change and meaningful dialogue in American politics.

It is time for GOP elected officials to look beyond the immediate political landscape and consider the legacy they wish to leave behind. By breaking free from the grip of denunciation avoidance and the “outrage enrage bifurcate,” they can chart a new course — one that prioritizes the principles, values, and unity essential for a thriving democracy. The future of the Republican Party, and indeed the nation, depends on their willingness to confront what lies beneath and rise above it.

My late friend Larry King once remarked, “You can’t be curious and furious at the same time.” Perhaps if the GOP and all of us would become more curious about what’s going on with our adversaries and what’s going on within us what we’re enraged about, we could take a first step toward a less acrimonious and more hopeful future.

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Mark Goulston

Dr. Goulston is the world's #1 listening coach and author of "Just Listen" which became the top book on listening in the world