The trouble with Donald

Marsha Shearer
Marsha Shearer

What follows is not meant to be about politics – it’s not about issues or political party.  This isn’t even about the election, writ large.  That’s done and over; decision made.  But it is about the character and mental stability of the person who will shortly become the President and leader of the free world – actually he could be the most important person on the planet – what he does, for better but especially for worse, could impact everyone in every country the world over.

Voters make decisions based on a wide variety of variables.  What is generally assumed is that having won the nomination, the basic minimum standards – the prerequisites needed to be an effective leader – have been met.  The difference with Trump was that he had no past history as a public servant to scrutinize.  Still, given his reputation as a successful businessman, there was the natural and normal assumption that, at a minimum, he was a relatively intact, intelligent, literate, curious, creative, honest, critical thinking, problem solving individual…the basic characteristics that, in varying degrees, heads of large organizations and successful politicians possess.  One would think.  But polls indicate that none of these characteristics – whether present or absent – was as important to Trump voters as their desire for change.  Disqualifiers for a typical politician running for any office, let alone the presidency, were ignored or characterized differently.  Samples include mocking a person with a disabling condition, criticizing a war hero because he had been captured, demeaning Gold Star parents, refusing to release his tax returns, manufacturing all of his products outside the US while condemning the same behavior in others, his apparent lack of payment of federal income taxes for years, his statements about his views on women and minorities; readers can add their own examples and there are many more to choose from.  But…most every other Republican running in the primaries, and certainly Hillary, represented the same old, same old.  Change was demanded and change is what we got.  But we also got something else; a seriously flawed human being.  And no matter your politics, this should not be ignored or characterized differently.

See if this description by the Mayo Clinic, together with criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), sounds like anyone you know.       

       *Has an exaggerated sense of self-importance

       *Expects to be recognized as superior to others

       *Exaggerates achievements and talents

       *Requires constant attention and admiration

       *Has a sense of entitlement

       *Expects special favors and unquestioning compliance

       *Takes advantage of others to get what they want

       *Has an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

       *Behaves in an arrogant or haughty manner.

       *Values themselves more than others

       *Looks down and belittles others in order to feel superior

       *Becomes angry or impatient when not receiving special treatment

       *Insists on the best of everything, car, home, possessions

       *Hypersensitive to criticism – perceived or real

       *Difficulty taking responsibility for mistakes and apologizing

       *Doesn’t trust easily and has few, if any, close friends

These characteristics are symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is a mental disorder. And it describes Donald Trump.  An aspect of the condition is that he believes he can do no wrong.  If he does it, that – ipso facto – makes it right.  Slights and criticisms – real or imagined – must be addressed.  He lies often and easily even when the truth is readily available in print and video. His ego is fragile and he’s on guard constantly for any threat, which may explain his inability to sleep and compulsion to tweet as an immediate response to any perceived slight or negative statement.

Supporters continue to say that any day Trump will become ‘Presidential.’  That day will not come.  He is who he is.  He’s still fighting the election he won.  It will always be about him.  And until something happens and he gets himself in a situation of his own making and is impeached or he resigns or his term expires, the country and the world will be holding their collective breath.  One thing is sure.  His self-interest, however he defines it, will come before all else.  Here’s hoping his closest advisors will be able to do for him what he seems unable to do for himself…which is to look beyond his own fragile ego and act for the greater good.

I did say this opinion piece wasn’t about politics but we need to ask ourselves how we got here.  For one thing, most folks would agree that at the end, we had two lousy choices.  Many people voted against a candidate (Never Hillary; Never Trump), not for a candidate.  Having omitted one of them, there was only one choice left. Others who couldn’t tolerate either, stayed home.  The political parties need to take a fresh look at the primary process.  Wide open primaries, open to all candidates of all parties, that occur on the same day nationwide might be one way of involving more than base voters in the process.  The RNC and DNC need to do precisely what a narcissist would never do – take a good long objective look at the current process, admit there are serious problems, and work cooperatively together and with others to develop solutions that will result in voters having a choice between two, or more, really great candidates.  If only.

There is an old Chinese curse that seems to have been delivered in spades: ‘May you live in interesting times.’  This might be one import we could do without.

Marsha Shearer is a resident of The Villages.