The psychological and sociological underpinnings of Trumpism
There has been much head-scratching and hand-wringing from rational folk when it comes to understanding Trump and his supporters. And rightly so. What the hell are they thinking!?! Well, they aren’t. Not in the traditional sense. This kind of groupthink hasn’t been prevalent in Western Civilization since World Wars I & II.
So, way back then, there was much more attention paid to this kind of phenomenon in sociology and psychology. Sociologist Max Weber was well known for identifying the underlying concepts we find in Trumpism.
As for The Donald himself, he is undeniably tethered to narcissistic leadership. His candidacy is all about him, not the people he is supposed to “serve.” When he says whatever horrible thing is on his horrible mind, he listens as the crowd reaffirms his belief in his greatness. This is a positive feedback loop. The crazier things that he says, the more he is adored. The more he is adored gives him the legitimacy and incentive to say even crazier things.
A cornerstone of narcissistic leadership is the lack of leadership for disaffected groups. So, for those that see that the current system is irrevocably broken, the only solution is to completely tear down the system instead of trying to find ways to fix it. Who then can be their standard-bearer? Trump fills that vacuum. So, the masses cling to the concept of him, more so than his policies.
It’s crazy to see how much mental origami Trump supporters have to do to justify their support of his policies. Samantha Bee takes a shot at trying to find out if there is anything behind their foreheads.
The first line in the Wikipedia article notes that “a cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.”
Wait. That doesn’t sound quite right. Trump doesn’t have a monopoly on the media. They aren’t required to say worshipful things about him. Quite the opposite, actually. In fact, he’s demonized and ridiculed at every turn. And he couldn’t be happier. His supporters believe that if The Establishment is pushing back against him and his ideas it proves that he’s on the right track. And so his cult of personality is working – in reverse.
How is this possible? A severe persecution complex that’s shared by his supporters. And he uses this complex to get the same result as others would a cult of personality.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
I once was connived into going to an Amway pitch at a friend’s house. The slick presenter showed us his big gold watch and pictures of the founder’s mansion to appeal to our greed. But anytime someone asked a critical question, he always went back to “Either you get it or you don’t.” The implication is that if you don’t instantly buy into the appeal, you are not smart or “with it” enough to belong. This preys on our need for belonging, with the entrance fee being an agreement not to question how they operate. The Cult of Trump works off of the same principle. Join for the sake of joining and don’t ask why.
You can’t be a narcissistic leader without being narcissistic. Have a look at this Narcissistic Personality Inventory. You’d be hard pressed to find one where Trump wouldn’t say yes.
I would prefer to be a leader.
I see myself as a good leader.
I will be a success.
People always seem to recognize my authority.
I have a natural talent for influencing people.
I am assertive.
I like to have authority over other people.
I am a born leader.
I rarely depend on anyone else to get things done.
I like to take responsibility for making decisions.
I am more capable than other people.
I can live my life in any way I want to.
I always know what I am doing.
I am going to be a great person.
I am an extraordinary person.
I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.
I like to be complimented.
I think I am a special person.
I wish somebody would someday write my biography.
I am apt to show off if I get the chance.
Modesty doesn’t become me.
I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public.
I like to be the center of attention.
I would do almost anything on a dare.
I really like to be the center of attention.
I like to start new fads and fashions.
I can read people like a book.
I can make anybody believe anything I want them to.
I find it easy to manipulate people.
I can usually talk my way out of anything.
Everybody likes to hear my stories.
I like to look at my body.
I like to look at myself in the mirror.
I like to display my body.
I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
I expect a great deal from other people.
I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world.
I have a strong will to power.
I insist upon getting the respect that is due me.
If I ruled the world it would be a much better place.
Happy voting everyone!!!