Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, has released a damaging tell-tale of her uncle and the sitting US President titled, ‘Too much and never enough: How my family created the world’s most dangerous man’.
While it lists multiple examples of the now-familiar narcissistic traits of President Trump, it presciently alludes to his make-believe world and its implications in the 2020 Presidential elections.
Mary Trump has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and as an insider, she is competent to give familial examples as opposed to revealing anything startling new, about the irascible and unpredictable Trump – but she does. She goes beyond narcissism and suggests a medical sociopath! A sociopath is typically weak, vain and lacks empathy, and in countless instances that required Presidential sobriety and statesmanship, the temperamental Trump spared none, not even some of his ‘own’ or the US’ traditional allies.
Fellow-Republican and former Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, forewarned the Republicans in 2016 when he said, “Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark” and sagely added “His imagination must not be married to real power”.
But it was, and as predicted, Trump lives dangerously in a make-believe world where he can do no wrong, or ever lose. Psychology says that sociopaths manipulate people and circumstances to their own advantage ~ they instinctively blame others when they fail or have ready justifications for their own behaviour.
Mary describes Donald Trump’s unique dexterity and felicity for his own stated untruths that, “by the time the doorbell rang, he probably already believed his version of events”! This disturbing trait now seems to be incubating and playing out in the run-up to the elections, as almost all poll pundits are talking about a likely win for Democrat candidate, Joe Biden, in the November 2020 US Presidential elections.
Donald Trump is struggling to ratchet up confidence in his candidacy, after disastrously living in denial through the Covid saga and its crippling impact. Today he desperately needs enemies and reasons to still try and pull a bunny out of the hat, or at least justify the end-result, as is writ all over. Trump’s playbook is about winning at any cost, by hook or by crook, with ends justifying the means.
Therefore, he is refusing to publicly commit to accept the electoral verdict, as the grudging leader had done in the 2016 elections. In an unashamed disrespect for electioneering traditions and processes, Trump refuses to give a gentleman’s word, “No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say ‘no,’ and I didn’t last time, either”! The President’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, warns, “given my experience working for Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power”.
Implicitly, Trump is incapable of handling a public defeat and therefore the prospects of an unacceptable humiliation. Joe Biden is already drumming up noises of how Trump will go hell-for-leather to ‘steal’ the elections and that the US military will probably have to intervene and escort Trump out of White House, when the results pour in.
Trump had shown similar misplaced pugnacity and inelegance in rejecting the fact that Hillary Clinton had won more popular votes in 2016 (albeit, not the electoral votes). Trump had instituted a Presidential Commission to investigate the loss of popular votes, and when the investigations came a cropper, he incredulously stated that it had uncovered “substantial evidence of voter fraud”.
Today, Trump is clutching the implausible straws of ‘mail-in-voting’ to raise the bogey of a potential ‘fraud’ that could be advantageous to the Democrats. Non-partisan experts rubbish all such conspiracy theories and deny the possibility of any substantial ‘fraud’; five US states have been using the same for years. It is more likely that Trump is setting up someone or something to blame and for that invoking the paranoia of ‘outside influence’ amongst his constituents and to assuage his own disturbed soul and personality.
Trump has had the undistinguished and unmatched record of averaging over 23 lies or untruths in a day, in just 2020, by independent fact-checkers. His imagined ghosts have led to unprecedented threats of declaring national emergency, ordering troops or even goading his core constituents to take on ‘fake’ media and unsupportive judges. The looming challenges of a peaceful transition of power in 2020 are staring at America, if the pollsters have got it right this time.
Trump is unlike former fellow-Republicans who had enough grace and humility to accept electoral defeat, fair and square. In his concessional speech, John McCain on losing his second bid had said, “Sen. Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face”. Even Trump’s bitterest rival, Hillary Clinton, had maintained the constitutional dignity to insist in her concessional speech in 2016, “Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it”. But Trump is not McCain, Romney, Clinton, Democrat or even Republican, he is just plain Donald Trump.
The portents of his unwillingness to exit after a possible electoral defeat are real, and his moral vacuity will not deter him from indulging in desperate and reckless theatrics and grandstanding. Sadly, in a deeply polarised country, he will still have believers, and the soul of the nation will be further hurt and poorer for the animalistic instincts of a lonely man. Ironically, the man who still controls the governance levers and has gone to extreme lengths to tinker with the established norms and nonpartisan professionalism in governmental institutions, is today fearing ‘the most corruption election in our nation’s history’, under his own watch! Across the societal spectrum, the institutions of the Military, Judiciary, Republican leadership, Religious and Civic leaders will need to brace and prepare, should the narcissism or sociopathy of an individual get the better of good sense and propriety in accepting the electoral results.
The writer IS Lt Gen PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Former Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands & Puducherry