Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Donald Trump: President for Our Times

This article was rejected. I probably got too cynical, twisted and long-winded here. If Trump saw this, he'd probably say 'it's because you're a LOSER!'


Narcissism involves excessive self-absorption. A narcissist is someone who is completely obsessed with himself or his own physical appearance. In the most pathological case, a narcissist has an inflated sense of self-worth, excessively craves admiration and does not understand the needs and feelings of others. In the most pathological case, a narcissist will deliberately manipulate other people and draw attention to himself.

It would be a sweeping statement to say that we are a culture of narcissists, but it would not be far off the truth either. Media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter seem help us to aggrandise ourselves. Users on Instagram constantly take photographs of themselves, of their food, of their dogs – and they want to remind you all the time. Statuses on Facebook remind you of their personal problems and they genuinely seem to think that you should care. Twitter seems to be a constant attention contest – each ephemeral, meaningless statement vying to go viral. 

Thomas Hobbes wrote a book of political philosophy called Leviathan. In that book, the ‘Sovereign’ is a leader who embodies all the citizens of a given society. He is the people. He can decide for them and legislate for them. He has special constitutional powers because every single citizen is embodied by him.

Donald Trump is quite likely the sovereign for our narcissistic times. He probably thinks that he embodies everyone and he would try to override the constitution and the law if he could. He has an inflated sense of self-worth. He claims to have an expertise in every field. Indeed, he claims that ‘nobody can do it like me,’ ‘nobody loves The Bible more than I do,’ ‘nobody is better with people with disabilities than me,’ ‘nobody understands devaluation better than me,’ ‘nobody understands taxes better than I do,’ ‘nobody understands debt better than I do,’ ‘nobody understands infrastructure better than me’ - on and on and on. As a businessman, architects and engineers would design buildings, other PR people would promote them and, then, when it was all completed, he would emblazon his own name in gold on top of it and claim all credit for himself. He is so convinced of his own brilliance that he thinks that he deserves to be president, despite having no prior political experience.

So Donald Trump does seem to be an appropriate president for our times, as so many of us seem to be narcissists. Trump might very well be our ‘sovereign.’ If we are all narcissists, then he might embody all of us. And if he is so convinced of his own brilliance, he can flout all political and constitutional norms.   

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