Featuring essays by Elizabeth George on the future of our country
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A LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
MEA CULPA
GIVE THE GOP A LANDSLIDE VICTORY
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART II
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART I
MONEY GRUBBING FEMALES, UNITE!
WE AREN’T ELECTING A HOMECOMING QUEEN
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
THE TOOTSIE ISSUE
Toddlers 4 President!
CRYING BABIES AND OTHER PRESSING MATTERS OF STATE
Democratic Convention 2016: How It Might Have Been
I’D LIKE TO FEEL THE BERN, ONLY…
AN UNFORTUNATE REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
On Matters of the Lie, the War, and Judgment
EGO, POLITICS, AND THE PRESIDENCY
On Getting What We Deserve
HOW JANUARY 2017 WILL LOOK
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Toddlers 4 President!


It’s rather surprised me that so many months passed before someone was willing to raise a head above the political parapet and mention the word narcissism in relation to Donald Trump. It had seemed such an obvious conclusion to reach as soon as Mr. Trump began ceaselessly beating the drum about his “standing in the polls.” An admitted political junkie, I began watching the primary season unfold long before it was actually the primary season, the advent of which is generally heralded by the Iowa caucuses. Because I started all this last August, I had a ringside seat to listen to Mr. Trump’s trumpeting about his “poll numbers” from early on.

I had two reactions. First, I was astonished by how much television time he was garnering in comparison to the other GOP candidates. Every night there he was as reported dutifully by a news media which seemed more concerned with their poll numbers (for which you can read “their ratings”) than with giving their viewers any balanced coverage concerning what the various candidates had to offer. And master showman that he is, Mr. Trump knew how to keep the television executives happy. All he had to do was what he’d been doing so far, especially since early on the television journalists offered no criticism of him, no astute observations of his behavior and no interpretations or analyses of what he was saying.

It wasn’t until far too late that the talking heads began to reflect on the nature of what Mr. Trump had been saying and doing for months. It wasn’t until far too late that the talking heads began mentioning the degree of narcissism that his words and his behavior suggested. But even now, long past the point of no return, they appear reluctant to delve into the sort of narcissism that Mr. Trump is displaying, instead talking about “his obvious narcissism,” as if the presence of that personality disturbance alone would be enough to give his supporters pause.

We’ve all known narcissists. We’ve all interacted with them. We recognize them for their devotion to themselves, their interests, their hobbies, their wants, their needs, and their purported wonderfulness. Everything they do is for themselves. Even if they actually xtend a hand to another person, the world will soon be informed of it. In short, they are the center of their universe, and they assume you feel the same. They’re like Bette Midler in the film in which she says, “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

But to me, Mr. Trump’s behavior suggests that he suffers from a different kind of narcissism. The more I’ve seen him, heard him, watched him, and read about him, the more I’ve become convinced that his is the narcissism of the two-year-old child, and he is trapped within it and powerless—as a two-year-old child would be—to recognize it within himself.

If this seems a rather harsh assessment of a presidential candidate, one need only look at Mr. Trump’s behavior to see within it the elements that suggest his upbringing was not what it might have been. His formative years failed to inculcate in him those essential qualities and understandings that would lead him into a successful autonomous adulthood. I don’t mean successful in the monetary sense, for autonomy has nothing to do with money (although, frankly, I don’t believe for a moment that Mr. Trump is as wealthy as he touts himself to be). I mean successful in the sense of being able and willing to step up to the plate of responsibility. Thus if parents’ most significant job is to shepherd their child into adulthood, helping him not only to interpret the world and his experiences but also guiding him into seeing that he is merely one among many, then it is my belief that Mr. Trump was completely failed by his parents. For his behavior has consistently illustrated that, as a child, he was cruelly denied some of life’s most important lessons:

          You are not the center of the universe.
          Other people besides you have needs.
          You don’t count more than anyone else counts.
          You don’t always get to be first, in line or in anything.
          Life is about choices and consequences.
          You have been born into a fortunate circumstance, so you must give back to others less fortunate than yourself.
          You must learn to share, not only your toys but also the stage on which you find yourself.
          You must speak the truth in all things.
          You must respect the dignity of other people.
          You must never, ever mock someone’s misfortune.

These are lessons that a child should learn during those years when the he has a dawning realization that there are more words in the language than I, me, my, and mine. But either Mr. Trump’s parents—albeit well meaning, one assumes—did not interpret his experiences in such a way as to be instructive in the important lessons or there is something in Mr. Trump’s character that caused him to fail to learn them.

Much of his behavior has given evidence that his ability to see the world in terms of others and their wants and needs and beliefs never developed. Indeed, much of his behavior has given evidence to a blindness not only toward other people but also a blindness toward himself. He appears unable to calibrate or judge his own behavior and when it is pointed out to him that he has crossed a boundary that should not have been crossed, he has no ability to acknowledge or apologize for this. Just as a two-year-old must learn that not everything is about him, for him, against him, in praise of him, consecrated to him and to his desires, so Mr. Trump should at some point have learned this as well. Had he done so, he would have known better than to publicly shame a mother whose baby was crying at a rally, he would not have taken something false and hurtful from a tabloid about the father of another candidate and implied it was the truth; he would not have mocked a disabled person on national television; he would not have denigrated his opponents by creating pejorative nicknames for them; he would not have fomented hatred against an entire religious group; he would not have accused the President of the United States of “being the founder of ISIS”; he would not have harassed reporters from the podium during rallies; he would not have said “he did it first” when questioned by a reporter about his name calling of another candidate; he would not have suggested that Russia ought to hack emails of his opponent.

Like many two-year-olds, Mr. Trump wants what he wants and when he doesn’t get it, he resorts to a behavior that he believes will serve him. However, unlike most two-year-olds, Mr. Trump does not have a wise parent there to explain to him that life isn’t about getting what you want. Life is about making sure that others have what they need. Life is a journey of exploration and growth. Life is not about grabbing things up and holding them close. Life is about extending the hand to another in order to assist, to learn, and to understand.

When individuals are two-years-old, they are on the threshold of being ready to hear all this from their parents. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump is 70, and it is far too late for him to learn a thing. Having once again replaced his “team”, during the next few weeks he may act as if he’s learned these lessons. But it will only be an act, a fragile performance designed to obscure the person he actually is. At this eleventh hour of his life, he’s merely trying to get what the two-year-old within wants, by momentarily using less offensive means.

There is much on the line for our country. Please vote.


- Elizabeth George
Whidbey Island
Washington State

 
 
 

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