By October 8, 2020No Comments

January 2017 by Claudia Chaves

There is no doubt that Trump is both a narcissist and a psychopath.  He is a demagogue, a compulsive lier, distorting reality to serve his narcissism; he is extremely impulsive and immature, and yes, very dangerous. He is appointing to the highest offices people who are, for the most part, disgracefully unqualified, small-minded and self-serving, when not nor utterly unethical. We must unmask every lie, resist every executive order or Congress bill that harms the environment, that  undermines people’s rights, that discriminates, hurts, and seeks to take us back to the 1950’s, or the Middle Ages.

But the much more dangerous and enduring problem which we also need to focus on and address is that the vast majority of those who voted for him will likely keep voting for undemocratic legislators and policies [because they always did and] because Trump unleashed the power of tribal instincts like his Republican predecessors never could. (I don’t mean by this a specific anthropological tribe: this is an ad hoc “tribe”; yes, heavily imbued with White Christian Supremacy identification — but the instincts themselves are there in everyone, just managed differently.) As a demagogue Trump “got them” by that instinctual place — whipping into a frenzy their basest tribal drives — infecting them with his narcissism into a deluded state of narcissistic triumphalism.

 And once they “fell for it” and then faced the upwelling of condemnation from the rest of us, those same base drives prevent them from admitting how wrong they were. People in general do not vote rationally at all, they vote emotionally, and demagogues are able to control the basest and most powerful emotional drives in people, and whip those emotions into a frenzy. The greater the anger, or fear, or intoxication with triumph, that a demagogue is able to make people feel — the less they will be able to analyze anything rationally nor be willing to face facts. (Not that they are likely to be exposed to a fact, given the spinelessness of the profit-driven mainstream media coupled with the massive propaganda issuing from the demagogues themselves.) So Trump’s voters now feel they MUST defend their team, their ad hoc tribe; they will use all the arsenal of psychological defense mechanisms and other forms of self-deception to not admit that they were duped. (Refer to: Festinger, L, Riecken, H. W., & Schachter, S. (1956) When Prophesy Fails. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.) Because otherwise they’ll have to see themselves as the rest of us see them, instead of seeing themselves as superior, triumphant, vindicated,  and about to scale the ladder of success, as Trump brainwashed them to feel. In fact Trump had an easy job of it since these same people were easy prey, having been brainwashed from before by Republican think tanks, perverted mainstream media, several presidents and scores of politicians, religious demagogues, etc..

So how will they vote for Congress in 2018? Who will they vote for in state and local elections? What mobilization, and likely anti-social provocations, will they engage in as they fight to defend the narcissistic illusions the new demagogue has fostered in them? That is the greater danger! Those of us who are able to face the facts need to think about this very carefully and address the problem very wisely. While we mobilize in vigorous protests and unmask every injustice, abuse, lie, cover-up and manipulation — some of us must get together and think about this deeper and more enduring political psychology problem and how will we address it.

Claudia Chaves. Author of “Why People Don’t Think For Themselves – How To Renew A Failing Democracy.