Monday, February 20, 2017

Fragile Egos And Political Power

I have been dumbfounded by Donald Trump's supporters. If the polls are correct, about 35% of Americans believe Trump can get and do nothing wrong. That conclusion is obviously contrary to the facts. Joan Smith, writing in The Guardian, has an explanation:

The 45th president of the US invited on stage a man who later revealed he has a 6ft cardboard model of his hero and talks to it every day.

Let’s just pause and think about that. This is a leader whose ego is so fragile, he wants to appear on stage with someone most of us would change seats to avoid if he sat next to us on a train. I should point out that Trump chose this particular supporter to appear beside him after he saw him being interviewed on TV before the rally. Ignoring the advice of his security officials: “He said, ‘I love Trump’ … Let him up. I’m not worried about him. I’m only worried he’s going to give me a kiss.”

It is an alarming insight into how Trump (though, not just Trump) operates. Few politicians, no matter how thin-skinned, have displayed such neediness nor demanded such displays of unconditional love from their supporters. Neediness is not usually considered attractive in men who like to be thought of as tough, but Trump is rewriting the rulebook on masculinity.

The trick all along has been to disguise neediness as empathy. When Trump talks about love to the crowds who turn out to see him, they think it’s what he’s offering. In reality, it’s what he demands from them, needing it to fuel the endorphin rush that keeps him going. You can see this process in action as he gets hyped up on stage, prompting a stream-of-consciousness outpouring of personal attacks, weird fabrications and outright lies.

Trump's supporters mistake his neediness for empathy. And they are just as needy as he is:

The symbiosis between leader and supporters is so close that it’s hard to interrupt, existing outside the more or less rational sphere conventional politicians are used to occupying. For the exceptionally loyal base that turns up at rallies, it doesn’t matter if the polls are terrible, because they aren’t part of the inner circle. Here’s the crucial point: when the identification is so close, giving up on the leader would be like giving up on yourself.

To reject Trump would be to reject themselves. Fragile egos and political power form a toxic mixture.

Image: The Guardian


Lorne said...

Rabbit holes and Kool-Aid seem the most appropriate metaphors for our times, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

People are looking for easy fixes, Lorne. And the world doesn't work that way.

Dana said...

When election after election certain populations elect politicians of a party that is both ideologically and demonstrably inimical to their best interests it is not out of bounds to question both the sanity and intelligence levels of said populations. It cannot all be down to gerrymandering or PR campaigns - people still have to into a booth, pull a lever, they have to make the decision themselves. If they are unable to connect the diminishment of their quality of life with the way they pulled the lever last time and all the times before that - are we to assume they've thought about and decided they like their lives being diminished? Or ought we to assume that they are profoundly and irredeemably stupid. And if we assume that then why on earth should we be trying to understand them, to empathize with them, to look for ways to incorporate their views. It's hard enough to build and maintain a just, equitable, prosperous society without continually having to come to a dead stop at the behest of people for whom wilfully and repeatedly diminishing their own quality of life is a worthy strategy. I'm approaching zero interest in continuing to waste thought, time, money or compassion for their plight.

Owen Gray said...

As I've written here before, Dana, stupidity is its own curse.

Dana said...

Yes it is. But that should not mean that the un-stupid must be tasked with accommodating or incorporating the stupidity. That just shares the curse around like a virus.

Owen Gray said...

So, what's to be done, Dana?

The Mound of Sound said...

The latest polls show Trump's disapproval rating stands at 58% but that still leaves 30% who continue to support this degenerate, needy, insecure, narcissistic, ignorant and whiny bitch.
Some compare him to Hitler or Mussolini. I don't. I see in Donald Trump America's own Robert Mugabe. All hail the United States of Zimbabwe.

Dana said...

"So, what's to be done, Dana?"

Isn't that the $64 trillion (in today's dollars and adjusted for inflation) dollar question?

Probably nothing given the centuries of inculcation we've undergone to empty, unobserved platitudes about the sanctity of life and more recently the sovereignty of the individual and so on. Anyone who did suggest any immediate functional remedies would probably be locked up as mad or tried and executed as a war criminal but in truth remedies along those lines are about all we've got left. Cue the outrage.

Owen Gray said...

The root of the con, Mound, is that it's about Trump -- not the American people.

Owen Gray said...

The outrage could end in a second American Revolution, Dana. But I admit that seems way too optimistic.

the salamander said...

.. well Owen.. we are currently witnessing a Trump/Bannon onslaught terminating
Environmental Protection Agency
Endangered Species Act
Stream Protection Act

Ring a bell? Stephen Harper had the means & did the same
& now Trump/Bannon have the means.. and are doing the same..
Hardly top of mind things to voters or mainstream media
but striking in their similarity - a majority
and captured government.. by Big Energy

Did I mention the CEO of EXXON as Trumps Secretary of State
and what.. billions of current oil sanctions against Putin & Russia
just waiting to be repealed..

Meanwhile, every & all sorts of red herrings are flopping
Oh Sweden, Oh Spicer or Conway, Oh Melania & Oh 'Winter White House'
and bad folks, bad hombres, need a wall, need more walls

Who (if not the almighty $$$)
controls the Trump/Bannon experiment ?
Follow the debt.. ...

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, salamander. There will be a lot more debt before Trump is sent packing.

The Mound of Sound said...

Apropos of my comparison of Trump to Mugabe, Dana sent me a link to an item from The Independent that's eerily corroborative.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Mound and Dana. It takes one to know one.