The Mind of Donald Trump
I have just finished reading a very interesting article about Donald Trump by the American psychologist Dan P. McAdams. The article, available online, was published in the June 2016 issue of The Atlantic magazine, five months before Trump was elected President of the United States. The title of the article is The Mind of Donald Trump. Below the title there is a sentence that briefly summarizes the article, “Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity-a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.”
The article opens with the thoughts that the journalist Mark Singer shared in an article after interviewing Donald Trump for The New Yorker in 1990. After asking Trump different questions “to find out what went through his mind when he was not playing the role of Donald Trump”, and not being able to get a satisfactory answer, Singer wrote that he “was left to conclude that the real-estate mogul who would become a reality-TV star and, after that, a leading candidate for president of the United States had managed to achieve something remarkable: an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”
In the rest of the article, the author analyzes the traits of Trump’s personality and makes comparisons with previous presidents of the United States. The author concludes by writing this:
“Who, really, is Donald Trump? What’s behind the actor’s mask? I can discern little more than narcissistic motivations and complementary personal narrative about winning at any cost. It is as if Trump had invested so much of himself in developing and refining his socially dominant role that he has nothing left over to create a meaningful story of his life, or for the nation. It is always Donald Trump playing Donald Trump, fighting to win, but never knowing why.”
Trump’s behaviour since he’s been elected is consistent with that the author wrote about his character and personality. Everything is about him and only him. He lies and makes false accusations against those who don’t agree with him. He claims that the news not favorable to him is fake news. He isn’t loyal to anybody, including his own staff. He throws them under the bus by forcing them to publicly defend his ridiculous statements and actions. Before firing him, he asked James Comey, the Ex-FBI Director, to pledge loyalty to him, Donald Trump, not to his country or the Constitution. Trump also asked Comey to drop a federal investigation into former security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia. Trump denied but later admitted sharing secret information with Russia.
Trump never made it a secret that he has a great deal of admiration for strong leaders. He kept praising Putin during the campaign and continued to do so after being elected. He described Kim Jong Un as a pretty smart cookie, and said that it would be an honour to welcome him at the White House. If those two rascals are his role models, no wonder he’s trying so hard to get rid of the checks and balance put in place by the founding fathers of America to preserve democracy and freedom.
At between 35% and 40%, Trump’s rate of approval is described as relatively low by journalists and political commentators. I don’t think that this is low, considering that the people who constitute his base gave Trump their unconditional support, and are willing to follow him wherever he wants to take them, even to hell, no matter what he says and does. Trump could ban free press, put his opponents and the journalists who criticize him in prison, have them tortured and killed, turn their country into a ruthless dictatorship, and over one third of the American people would agree with that. Those people are willing to give up their freedom and democracy to a sweet talker selfish billionaire who was able to convince them that he cared about the plight of the ordinary people. What is so disturbing to me is that Trump was able to get that level of blind support in a country with no inflation, a rate of unemployment under 5%, and the legacy of a president who tried to give access to affordable health care to the millions who had no insurance. In 1933, the unemployment was at 15.3% in Germany, and the country had been plagued with hyperinflation in the 1920s.
Imagine what such behaviour and thinking can do to the moral fabric of a society. What message does Donald Trump send to the young people? You can cheat, lie, force people to lie for you, make false accusations, avoid paying taxes, force your suppliers and workers who are facing bankruptcy to sue you in order to get what they rightfully deserve, give yourself the right to grab pussies whenever you feel like it because you are rich, powerful and famous. You can do all that as long as long as you win. Winning is everything. For Trump, the ultimate insult is to call someone a "loser". He indiscrimitaly uses it to describe both his political opponants and the most cruel terrorists like the suicide bomber of Manchester and his accomplices.
A few days ago, Trump was invited to give a commencement speech in a Christian university. I didn’t know what a commencement speech was, so I looked it up on Google. A commencement speech is an inspirational speech given to graduating students by a politician or a well-known personality. The Christian Evangelical movement, which is very powerful in the United States, always supports the Republican Party, therefore most of the Evangelical Christians voted for Trump at the last election. This is not new in the history of the world, but, to me, it is still mind-boggling to see how religion and politics can become allies when it comes to justify wars, destroy the environment, make the rich richer and the poor poorer, refuse to help refugees and deny assistance and medical care to those in need.
How is the Trump saga going to end? Some people, mostly democrats, are talking about an impeachment, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Trump still has the support of 85% of the republicans, but I don’t see how this circus can go on for another three and a half years. Whatever the outcome, this will have taught the American people a few lessons to remember:
- Their political system can be hacked by someone who is clever enough to exploit its weaknesses;
- Even if they share a country, they live in two different worlds;
- There are in their midst religious extremists who are not very different from the Taliban.
- Democracy is fragile even in a country like the United States.
Imagine what would have happened if Trump had been more disciplined and a little bit smarter. Imagine if instead of becoming president to satisfy his own ego, Trump has been elected to serve a greater evil. Imagine a combination of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon in the same person. A leader who could galvanize the crowds like Trump combined with the focused mind and determination of Banon.
In the articles that I write for this blog, I always stress the importance of values. To me, values are the basis of everything. Your values define your character. If you have good values, you are going to make the right decisions and associate with the right people. Our values are often challenged by external influences and by our own life experiences. Since some religious leaders do not seem to be able to see the contradictions between the principles that they are supposed to defend and the behaviour of politicians like Trump, I don't think that you should rely on their teaching to define your values. While religion may be helpful as a guideline, the only way to define your values is to look inside your heart and your soul, and have a good conversation with your conscience. When you mix it with politics, religion can be bought and sold like cookies, sex, freedom and loyalty.
For me, it’s very important that we take time to reflect, meditate or pray to readjust our values in the light of everything that’s happening in our lives and in the world. If we want to be true to ourselves and to our values, we have to be willing to let our existence be molested by the rumbling of our souls.