I want to understand the difference between people who love Donald Trump and people like myself who despise him, it being obvious that our differences go beyond policy. When I came upon a nine-point list of traits (at bottom of post) that characterize people who are malevolent,* I discovered that every item on the list strongly represents my understanding of the character of Donald Trump. Because I view these traits in him as unavoidably obvious, I am unable to maintain a high regard for those who disagree.
My alienation from such people saddens me, and I have observed that they use some of the same insulting words to describe me that I use to describe them, words like stupid, deluded, hateful, and unpatriotic. They say that I want to abolish the police, and that I love rioters and looters, although I strongly support the police, and would gladly see rioters and looters shot dead in the street if it were possible to separate them from other demonstrators. I say these things in the hope of making it clear to Trumpians that our disagreement isn't total, and that in this, at least, we can find some comfort.
We are all pained by our contempt for one another, but no one knows how to move beyond it. Or at least I don't. Millions have stopped talking completely, while millions more have agreed to stop talking about Trump. Neither approach works for me, yet my attempts at understanding and being understood have been so anger-laden and accusatory that they have made matters worse. So I ask you, not rhetorically, but because I want to know: three and a half years into Trump's presidency, how do you view his character?
If you hate him as I do, then I will obviously understand, but for those few readers who regard him as honest, just, compassionate, and patriotic, to what do you attribute the fact that I hold the opposite view, and would you like for us to bridge the divide? While I have little belief that the angry torrent that separates us can be bridged, I am nonetheless making what I intend as a constructive effort. If my approach doesn't work for you, perhaps you have an idea that would. It is my blog, so while it makes sense that most of the time and work would be mine, the fact is that I need help. It is also true that no matter where you live or how you feel about Trump, everyone the wide world over has been wounded by the rage, chaos, and alienation that characterize his presidency. Perhaps you will say that these things aren't his fault, but surely you won't deny that they exist, or that responsibility for healing the wounds falls completely on the other side.
The following is the list of what I see in Trump. Even if you think I'm imagining these things in him, my hope is that if you understand the self-talk that underlies my hatred, you will find my hatred comprehensible. Whether this will represent progress, I don't know, but it's the only idea I have.
- Egoism. The excessive concern with one's own pleasure or advantage at the expense of community well-being.
- Machiavellianism. Manipulativeness, callous affect and strategic-calculating orientation.
- Moral Disengagement. A generalized cognitive orientation to the world that differentiates individuals' thinking in a way that powerfully affects unethical behavior.
- Narcissism. An all-consuming motive for ego reinforcement.
- Psychological Entitlement. A stable and pervasive sense that one deserves more and is entitled to more than others.
- Psychopathy. Deficits in affect, callousness, self-control and impulsivity.
- Sadism. Intentionally inflicting physical, sexual or psychological pain or suffering on others in order to assert power and dominance or for pleasure and enjoyment.
- Self-Interest. The pursuit of gains in socially valued domains, including material goods, social status, recognition, academic or occupational achievement and happiness.
- Spitefulness. A preference that would harm another but that would also entail harm to oneself. This harm could be social, financial, physical or an inconvenience.