If you’ve been baffled by Donald Trump’s poll numbers, you’re not alone. Sane people dismiss him as a pompous jackass, short on substantive policy and long on name-calling. If you ever played in the schoolyard as a child, you will recognize his type. He tries to get his way by bullying others, especially the weakest and most vulnerable among us. When the bully gets challenged, he stomps and huffs and name-calls, and then sulks and pouts until his sycophants gather round him to assuage his ego. This drama is almost infantile and laughable for anyone over the age of eight, but, then again, no one has ever accused Republicans of being mature, rational, and beyond expressing juvenile behavior. Having said all this, I still did not understand how a thrice-divorced, pro-choice (until recently), non-religious New Yorker like Trump could hold any appeal for the southern, Evangelical right-wing. That is, until I read what Dr. Scott Keiller had to say in a recent edition of OpEd News.
According to Dr. Keiller, a professor of Psychological Sciences at Kent State University, Trump displays the classic traits of a narcissistic authoritarian. And those who were raised in authoritarian households, and who may have even been abused as children, are naturally drawn to someone like Trump. Even if Trump’s political views do not comport with theirs, his sycophants are succumbing to what is familiar to them: an authority figure who is self-involved, abusive, and tyrannical. Here’s how Rob Kall, Editor-in-Chief of OpEd News puts it:
“Dr. Keiller’s research on narcissism, prejudice, and authoritarianism has been published in peer-reviewed journals published by the American Psychological Association and others, including the Journal of Personality Assessment, Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Psychological Assessment, and Sex Roles.
“Trump is a narcissistic, blustering, offensive, abusive bully and buffoon. He is, among all the billionaires in the world, the most desperate for attention, the fastest to attack critics. There is widespread agreement that he is a narcissist. That tells us a lot about his supporters.
“Trump is pulling between 25 and 32% in polling. That’s about the same ballpark for the percentage of people who were victims of child abuse of one kind or another. It’s also about the same percentage for right-wing authoritarian types.
“[Dr. Keiller] explained authoritarians as people obsessed with rules, who very much follow self-proclaimed experts on how life should be and moral. Someone who is authoritarian is seeking a leader to follow and blindly obedient. They are very conventional, very submissive to authorities, seeking people to dominate them.
“[Dr. Keiller] also talked about narcissists. People who are in abusive relationships are very often abused by parents who are narcissistic and sometimes also psychopathic. All psychopaths are narcissists. Victims of childhood abuse may become abusing narcissists or they may, and often do, enter into relationships with abusive narcissists. It’s a vicious cycle. It makes sense that most authoritarians who seek out leaders to be submissive to, are recreating the life they grew up in. They were abused as children and they seek leaders who will abuse them.”
This clarifies why those who support Trump do so with full knowledge that they are doing it at their own peril. They know full well that Trump is a tyrannical narcissist, but it is just this sort of personality to whom they are drawn, even if, in the end, they know and expect that they will be mistreated. Perhaps Republicans like being victims; they are both sadists and masochists. Often times I have heard them utter empty and angry aphorisms like, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way,” as if there are only those who abuse and those who get abused. No in-betweens. No shades of gray.
And this would explain why it is next to impossible to reason with a Republican (psychopath). They are psychologically wounded and, thus, absolutely incapable of seeing truth. They are hopelessly mired in living their lives according to old paradigms, built on bigotry, violence, misuse of power. They are victims who care only about themselves and their own survival. Not the greater good.
Now I have some understanding of how we wound up with two Bushes, Nixon, and Reagan as presidents. This is why Sarah Palin is so popular with Tea Partiers. Sick and twisted as it seems, Republicans slogan should be, “Hurt me Daddy, because it feels so good.”