The real danger of Trump: in a couple years you are going to like him.
I want to be very clear about who Donald Trump is. Donald Trump is a narcissist. Nothing more and nothing less. He is not, despite popular opinion, particularly power hungry or hungry to destroy our institutions. He is simply hungry for self-affirmation, like all narcissists.
And for those of you who have had the misfortune of living with or spending significant time with a pure breed like Trump you will recognize, all too well, the following two central characteristics to this disorder:
- Narcissists have no guiding principles other than the principle that can be summed up as: “ME!!” (or in Trump’s case: “TRUMP!!”)
- Narcissists are obsessed with convincing themselves that they are not narcissists.
They accomplish the latter in a lot of subtle ways, but the most persistent approach tends to be pursuing external popularity at all costs. (If everybody loves me, how could I possibly be self-centered?)
So what does this mean for a Trump presidency?
He is going to be popular. VERY popular. How do I know this? Because he is going to go above and beyond what is normal or expected, or even safe, to win over every group of Americans he can. He is going to sacrifice policy principles, relationships with Republican politicians, relationships with foreign countries and ESPECIALLY relationships with executives at the world’s most powerful corporations, to become more and more popular with Americans at large.
I anticipate a key exception to this pursuit of universal popularity, though. He will not be popular outside of America. Narcissists are also, for obvious reasons, merciless toward people who oppose them, but whom they will never be able to charm. As Americans start to rally around Trump over the next four years, Trump’s relationship with European and Asian powers outside the U.S. could truly spiral out of control. But few Americans will care because he will be representing their interests in ways that they never imagined in his relentless pursuit of their support.
The real danger of Donald Trump is not going to be his inflammatory rhetoric, his isolationist views, his dislike of immigrants or his racism.
It is going to be the fact that everyone will like him and, once they do, he will want it to stay that way (and thus stay in power) forever.