By Dr David Laing Dawson
Is the election of Donald Trump a sign of the human race once again slipping into a very dark and destructive period?
History tells us it is. We humans have an uncanny ability to set in motion a series of unstoppable events that lead to mass extinction and common misery on a regular basis. And then we emerge and flourish once again, and for a while we tell ourselves that this must never happen again. And then many of us forget and focus on our immediate needs, and wishes, and desires, our disappointments, our hurt and outrage.
Old instincts kick in, the ones that served us well when we lived in small villages and tribes competing for limited hunting grounds. And then it happens all over again, a series of events that leads to a mass destruction, each time a little differently, but each time unleashing immense misery upon ourselves. As human history goes, we are at the tail end of a long period of relative peace.
Is this one of those moments? A chain of events without a definitive starting point, but including the invasion of Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, ISIS, Syria, Brexit, the rise of far-right leaders and dictators and would-be dictators in Europe and Russia, and then America.
I see on my Google news today the smiling face of Kellie Leitch espousing Trumpisms, and then that of the ridiculous Don Cherry telling us those pinko left-leaning weirdo Americans are not welcome in Canada.
Here is what I hope:
I hope we can keep this regressive craziness out of Canada. Don Cherry has evolved into a buffoon entertainer. Let us leave him in that role. Kellie Leitch is a more serious threat and she has been energized by Trump’s victory, so we need to be vigilant.
I think at least much of the success of Donald Trump is a backlash, or “Whitelash”. A reaction by a certain white demographic that has, for 8 years, seethed under the leadership of an African American. They were not ready for a black president, especially one so thoughtful, articulate, so obviously popular, calm, even-handed and fair. For eight years he has been an affront to their congenital views of the other race. That part is specifically, I hope, an American development, and this Trump win might energize the sane, non-racist, inclusive elements of America.
And then we have Donald. Many of the narcissistic, sociopathic charismatic leaders who have seized power in other historical moments had the same psychological profile as Donald J. Trump, but they did not grow up with his degree of luxury, and for years they harbored and nursed specific ideological and xenophobic beliefs. Donald, as far as we can tell, never served any idea beyond his own self-aggrandizement. He has really found himself in that office without any ideological baggage, nothing he fervently believes in anyway.
Perhaps his narcissism will be satiated with people, every day throughout the day, deferentially calling him Mr. President, with his photo in every public office, with sufficient moments on television and on the front page of newspapers, magazines, and being the number one search on Google – perhaps his narcissism will be sufficiently satiated so that he can quietly let other people (who may actually understand the complexities of the world and have some empathy) govern while he primps for the next photo op, and gives good speeches someone else wrote for him. He wants to be loved after all.
That is what I hope.
But I know better. A healthy narcissism is satisfied with a few positive comments about one’s blog, a partner who says she loves you, the improvement in the health of one’s patients, children who tell you that they want their children to know you, and a smattering of applause for a job well done.
But Donald’s narcissism is not a healthy level of self-regard. Nor is it scrutinized, considered, or judged by Donald’s brain.
It will not be so easily satiated. For this level of narcissism there is no endpoint, no level of stasis and balance. It requires larger and larger doses of adulation. And for this he needs to face a crisis, walk across a battlefield of dismembered bodies, make life and death decisions, stand atop the pile of misery, face increasing threat (even if of his own making) and conquer it and be rewarded with unflinching adulation and adoration.
Such hunger could lead, eventually, to his destruction, and a great deal of suffering for the rest of us.
I hope I am wrong. Perhaps having achieved far more than his father, Donald can now rest on his laurels, cocooned from his critics by White House staff, and let competent others make sensible decisions. Perhaps his pragmatism may be a bulwark against the ideologues of the Republican party. Perhaps.