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Friday, November 27, 2015

Why People Like Trump: "Look On My Works and Despair!"

As Donald Trump continues to lead all other Republican candidates for president in many polls, many shake their heads in disbelief. It seems every day Trump spits his spiteful venom at new, unsuspecting targets as he denigrates opponents and any others who question his authority. While doing so, he claims he is vastly intellectually superior to everyone else. One tweet reported Trump saying: "Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, its not your fault."

It seems his goal to become the Republican presidential candidate knows no tactical bounds -- not even funding since the ultra-rich tycoon is bankrolling his own candidacy. He recently boasted that he would be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money if that's what it takes to win the 2016 election. And, in his mind, this money is well spent since he claims, "Sadly the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again."

Trump mania causes me to marvel at the reason for the mass attraction to a man who possesses a ginormous ego served by unfettered, self-serving vanity. Is Trump a new icon because he flaunts his opinion? Many are said to love him not for what he says, but for how he says it. In other words -- people admire him because right, wrong, or indifferent, Trump takes a stand. These people adore his abundant self-confidence and claim he does not back down in the face of political correctness. Even if he flip-flops, and he does, he claims he has been misinterpreted and exploited by others. Despite his offensive remarks, Republicans still see him as the frontrunner for nomination. 

Still, in a religious sense, vanity is a form of self-idolatry and one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins.

Vanity is defined as "the quality of excessive pride in one's own appearance or achievements in which that person likens himself to the greatness of God for the sake of his own image." Acting in vain, he thereby becomes separated and perhaps, in time, divorced from the Divine grace of God.

Philosophically speaking, vanity may refer to a broader sense of egoism and pride. American aphorist
Mason Cooley (1927 – July 25, 2002) once stated: "Vanity well fed is benevolent. Vanity hungry is spiteful." Spite may be considered Trump's most successful weapon as he lashes out at all who dare have contrary beliefs and opinions.

To me, this strutting peacock of a man courts the American political arena with ravenous, self-centered desire knowing no bounds. And 37 percent of those polled (Reuters/Ipsos data; November 26, 2015) want Donald Trump to be President of the United States. I find this troubling not only because an egomaniac like Trump has a legitimate chance of leading the Free World but also because a significant number of Americans hold this highly judgmental behavior in esteem.

Exploring the Trump Popularity

Jack Schafer, Ph.D., is a professor at Western Illinois University in the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) Department. He is a retired FBI Special Agent, and he served as behavioral analyst assigned to FBI's National Security Behavioral Analysis Program. Schafer says ...

"Trump says what ordinary people cannot say for fear of losing their jobs, status in their communities, or their reputations. When built-up pressure is finally released, people feel good about themselves. The Golden Rule of Friendship states, 'If you want people to like you, make them feel good about themselves.' When Trump speaks, he makes people feel good about themselves and, as a result, people like him."
(Jack Schafer. "Why People Like Trump." Psychology Today. October 22, 2015.)

In this view of the reason for Trump's popularity, much of society has "dammed-up" forbidden thoughts. And, even with all of the well-intentioned aspects of political correctness, the people long to speak directly without constraint and convention. Trump seems to be a release for the egotistical desires of those who have become tired of thinking before speaking and acting.

Of course, 99.9% of Americans do not have the immense wealth and resources that allow Donald Trump to speak and act freely without fear of reprisal. Money "talks" and Trump lives in an exclusive environment which demands little restraint; he is accustomed to having his ego stroked no matter the hurtful refuse that pours from his mouth. In fact, his tremendous ego is the major component of his personality that drives his unbridled personal actions. In the "real world," the rest of us less fortunate souls must practice consistent virtuous behavior to gain respect and favor. Not so with Mr. Trump. 

Freud contends that the ego develops from the id, the aspect of personality in charge of instinctive and primitive behaviors, and it is the ego that normally ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in society. I believe Trump has had little exposure for understanding the needs of normally acceptable behavior. His aloofness, though polished, is frightening in its consistency.

What of his superego? The superego, the aspect of personality that holds all of internalized moral standards and ideals acquired from both parents and from society, is the supreme control center of a person's sense of right and wrong. According to Freud, the superego begins to emerge at around age five.

Five-year-old, Donald, said to be energetic and bright, had a privileged childhood as the son of a builder and real estate developer who specialized in constructing and operating middle income apartments in the Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. Later, when he joined the family business, the Trump Organization, he excelled in business transactions. No doubt, Trump has been a highly successful businessman and has used his superego to do what  is "right and wrong" in a business sense.

But ...

It is evident to me that Trump's interpersonal sensitivity is grossly lacking. His apparent lack of control often causes him to react in a hostile nature that alienates others. Ryne A. Sherman, Ph.D. and Florida Atlantic University's "Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award" winner (2013), says this about Trump:

"Although ambitious and sociable ... Trump is low on prudence. He doesn't care much for rules and tends to avoid them. He is independent minded and seems unconcerned with details... While being highly colorful and inquisitive, he seems unusually self-confident, and shows feelings of grandiosity and entitlement. These (type of) individuals tend to make a good first impression, but are difficult to work with because they feel entitled to special treatment, ignore their critics, and intimidate others. He'll (Trump) tend to overestimate his capabilities."

(Ryne A. Sherman. "The Personality of Donald Trump."
Psychology Today. September 17, 2015.)

Schafer believes the big attraction to Donald Trump is the thrill to live "through" him. Perhaps, to his many fans, he embodies the perfect image of a supreme Big Boss in a rich "Disneyland" of control and financial achievement. In a world where a view of personal success depends so much upon accumulation of property and material possessions, Trump is the ideal -- the top of the heap, dog-eat-dog commander. Sherman explains ...

"Most people have little in common with Trump but many Americans live vicariously through Trump. Trump’s success, popularity, and self-confidence fill the secret dreams of ordinary people. To reject Trump is to render the aspirations of most Americans meaningless."

(Jack Schafer. "Why People Like Trump." Psychology Today. October 22, 2015.)

So, the paradox of Trump that is so unbelievable to many Americans is that the more unpleasant his personality is revealed to be, the greater his appeal to his core group of supporters. These people typically say, "Trump as the only candidate with 'the balls' to be aggressive and unpredictably offensive."

Even with a reputation of being boldly outspoken, nothing guarantees he has the political chops to be an effective statesman. And, that is my greatest fear: I believe people are being hoodwinked by a kingly attitude devoid of substance. Trump's blustering is his calling card, and the charisma it creates seems to reek of negativity for compromise and solution. In many ways, he seems imposing and almost tyrannical in his approach, certainly not elegant and dignified.

If people are projecting into Trump what they want to see, does this desire drive an egotistical cult of  personality that encourage "right-thinking" Americans to insult others without regret, break rules of conduct without fear of reprisal, and routinely protest diverse thinking without regard for the good of the general public?

I see this "power means all" attitude as a blight that extinguishes cohesiveness and strengthens partisanship. I despise strong the "I" and "we" cronyism that has led to disrespect and stalemate. Robert Tracinski, senior writer at The Federalist, says ...

"Changing the political system is patient work that takes decades, and most of it is done, not by electing the 'right guy' in a single election, but by promoting the right ideas to your fellow citizens and actually convincing people, which is really annoying work.

"What doesn’t get the job done is, from my experience, the favorite activity of Donald Trump’s supporters: insulting people on the Internet. So no wonder they want to short-circuit the system and indulge the fantasy that they can push through their agenda, whatever it is, just by electing a guy who will insult people on a bigger scale."

(Robert Tracinski. "Donald Trump's Paradoxical Cult of Personality."
The Federalist. November 27, 2015.)

Belittlement -- of his fellow political opponents, of immigrants, of women, of the handicapped, of Muslims, and of any others who do not share his commanding mindset is beyond offensive to those who see through Trump's ego. He may not be a villain or a tyrant, yet he lacks critical leadership skills to be the President of the United States.

Many people evidently are convinced that Donald Trump is a gutsy, homespun hero. In Trump, they may view ideals and liberties they desperately wish they possessed. Oh yes, Trump does promise to give the people what they want -- to make life great. But, to me, what his supporters believe he will deliver is "pie in the sky" akin to buying a lottery ticket with winning odds of one in a million.

So, in my view, Trump is a hollow figure head -- a product of blue-collar frustration -- a frail, straw man so uncomfortable with the slightest opposition that he consistently exhibits his lack of decency and diplomacy without regard or without regret.

Cris Cillizza of the Washington Post relates the following:

"Trump's comments about anyone who stands in his way are pointless, the reflex action of someone who aims to destroy anyone who dares question him... He seems to think that name-calling -- because most politicians don't engage in it -- is somehow consistent with his broader anti-politician image.

"The problem is that his message works when he is willing to say things other people can't or won't about policy matters.  But, name-calling isn't a message. And, simply trying to be as offensive as possible to the largest number of people isn't a message.

"Trump has hit a vein in the American consciousness.  But, he doesn't really know why it is people are responding to him. It's because he's willing to break with political protocol on issues that matter to people, not because he's willing to engage in a verbal food fight with everyone who crosses his path."

(Cris Cillizza. "What Donald Trump gets wrong about why people like him."
The Washington Post. August 08, 2015.)

Simply stated in psychological terms, Trump is P-OED -- Predominantly Over-occupied in Ego Development, which, in his case, prevents his superego from emerging as his saving grace. Like all human monuments to vanity, his legacy is fragile and prone to fall to inevitable natural design.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

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