MONTHLY TWO CENTS
Reflections on the 2016 Election From Your Local Psychologist
by Therese May*
“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” H.L. Mencken, 1926
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” The Bible
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“May you live in interesting times.” Chinese proverb
The current election cycle has been taken over by an orange fungus. Where did he come from?
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by insatiable needs for status and admiration, and an inflated sense of importance with underlying deep insecurity, a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, arrogance and interpersonal exploitiveness. Just what we need in a Commander in Chief.
A touch of narcissism is not necessarily a bad thing - in small doses it results in charisma and charm. Many of our finest actors, preachers and politicians have narcissistic traits. But Trump is an example of toxic narcissism run amok. These people leave a trail of bodies behind them. One of the surest signs of mental health is the ability to laugh at oneself. Trump is incapable of this.
Many speculate that what triggered his current run at the presidency was the narcissistic injury caused by Barack Obama’s jokes at Trump’s expense at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 - check it out - it was hilarious. Personally, I think he’s running because he was bored.
There is a wide consensus that the rise of Trump has been caused by the decades-long failure of both parties to work for the middle class and the outright purchase of our lawmakers by dark money. I would add another factor. Every fungus has to have a friendly environment in which to grow and flourish. The American culture of narcissism is Trump’s petri dish.
Our millennial generation has been called the trophy generation. Trophy companies exploded in the 1990’s to award perfect attendance, almost perfect attendance, and you-name-it. The self-esteem movement in education deemphasized performance, and rampant grade inflation occurred. Parents used to confront their children about poor grades; now they confront the teacher, the college professor, or (I’m not kidding) the employer. Consider that, in a study out of the Brookings Institute, out of eight advanced countries, American children score lowest in math skills and highest in confidence in math skills. Genuine self-esteem, the antidote to narcissism, is based on genuine achievement, and kindness and service to others. These are time-honored Democratic values.
Here’s what I figure we can expect:
Scenario 1. President Trump. Apocalyse. World War III. But here’s the upside: American political addiction to money hits bottom and our democracy begins a long painful process toward recovery.
Scenario 2. Clinton blows Trump away, Democrats gain seats in the house and senate, and our democracy begins a long painful process toward recovery.
Scenario 3. Anything can happen.
The next few months will be a roller coaster ride between hilarity and horror. Strap in.
*The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily the views of the Hanover Democratic Committee.