I rarely comment about politics in my blog posts as it’s a sure fire way to alienate some of my readers who hold different points of view.  I do so today with fear and trepidation but I feel compelled to do so.  As the saying goes, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” I am willing to be considered a fool if it helps to provide my readers a bit of clarity on the controversial candidate Donald Trump.  If I lose some of you as readers because of my take on Donald Trump then so be it, but I have no desire to add fuel to a raging fire, only clarity.

Energized Republican Voter Turnout

I am, like many people, baffled by Donald Trump’s appeal to voters.  I see his campaign behavior and his antics during the debates and I’m appalled.  But make no mistake he has mass appeal to a specific segment of the population as evidenced by the following:

  • Donald Trump’s rallies consistently draw thousands of supporters.  No other Republican candidate comes close to the same voter enthusiasm.
  • Voter turnout for the Republican caucuses and primaries this campaign season have consistently been record breaking all because of Trump.
  • In those Republican primaries that are open, i.e., they allow Democrats and Independents to vote, they have done so in droves to vote for him.

Donald Trump’s Appeal

So what’s the appeal?  Why would anyone vote for Donald Trump?  There are many reasons why voters consider Trump their choice.  But demographics reveal that Trump particularly appeals to poor and middle class whites with only a high school education.  While Democrats make concerted efforts to appeal to minorities of color, Trump voters feel neither party is courting their vote.  They feel largely ignored.

For the past 16 years the poor and the middle class have experienced a steady erosion in their standard of living and no one seems to be doing anything about it.  Congress and the President are unwilling to work together in a bi-partisan fashion, so nothing gets done.  This relentless decline in the standard of living of the American middle class is what I believe is the defining issue of this presidential race.  Since 2000 the median family income adjusted for inflation has declined from $57,843 to $53,657 in 2015, a decline of about 7.3%.  The Republican Party has at best given lip service to this issue.

To their credit the Democrats have made as one of their campaign issues income inequality but they too miss the point.  Most Americans don’t resent the wealthy.  The issue is not the gap between rich and poor, but the fact that the lower-middle class is becoming part of the poor, and the middle class is moving that way as well.  Those at the lower end of the economic ladder want the opportunity for the American Dream.  They want to know that if they work hard that they too can prosper.  This hope in the American Dream has been in large part taken away from them.

They’re Mad as Hell

Until Donald Trump showed up no one was listening to them; no one seemed concerned about their plight.  Trump’s angry message of the U.S. not winning anymore resonates loudly with them because they haven’t won in a long, long time.  His diatribes against free trade, jobs being shipped overseas and illegal immigration shows them that he is on their side, that he appreciates their predicament.  They don’t care that he’s short on specifics.  They don’t mind the name calling and the sophomoric retorts he makes.  They actually enjoy the political incorrectness (me too).  To borrow a phrase from the movie Network, “They’re mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore.”

In my opinion voting for someone who you believe understands why you’re angry is not a good reason to vote for him.  During the Republican debates any objective viewer will tell you that Mr. Trump consistently showed his lack of knowledge on the major issues that will confront the next president of the United States.  He’s clueless.  Really, he is.  Repeating worn out slogans (Make America great again) won’t get it done.

Traits of a Narcissist

Some will say, that if Mr. Trump becomes president he will surround himself with the best and the brightest minds that will provide him the counsel he’ll need to make tough decisions.  And surely that is what he’ll do.  Unfortunately there are indications that Mr. Trump has narcissistic tendencies.  See if the description of a narcissist found in Daniel Goleman’s book, Social Intelligence, aptly describes Donald Trump:

  • A narcissist is someone who has a grandiose sense of self-importance, harbors obsessive fantasies of unbounded glory, feels rage when criticized causing him to lash out, considers himself special, and lacks empathy towards others.
  • That deficiency in empathy means narcissists remain oblivious to the self-centered abrasiveness that others see in them so clearly.
  • Although they can selectively turn on the charm, just as readily they can be disagreeable.  Not in the least drawn to emotional intimacy, they are highly competitive, cynical and mistrustful of others, and readily exploit people in their lives.

I believe this definition of a narcissist perfectly describes Donald Trump.  While history has shown that some narcissistic leaders get spectacular results others create disasters.  Why?

  • Narcissists have a tendency to selectively seize on data that supports their views, ignoring the counsel that runs contrary to their preconceived ideas.  Healthy dissent is ignored and eventually dies out altogether.
  • Narcissists surround themselves with “yes-men” who agree with anything they say in order to stay in their good graces.
  • Narcissists not only don’t listen, they prefer to preach and indoctrinate.

Now imagine for a moment the consequences of a president who does not listen to his counselors but rather listens to those who feed his ego.  How dangerous would that be?  Notice my criticism of Donald Trump is not based on his positions on the issues.  It’s based solely on his narcissistic personality.  He would be dangerous as President of the United States.  We deserve better.

Source: Social Intelligence, Beyond IQ, Beyond Emotional Intelligence, published by Bantam Dell 2006, Daniel Goleman, pages 117-124; Real Median Household Income in the United States, Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/MEHOINUSA672N; The Roots of Trump’s Strength, This Week in Geopoltitics by George Friedman, March 7, 2016.