Sunday, October 13, 2019
written 6 October 2019
published 13 October 2019
A healthy sense of self is important. A Buddhist friend once told me: "you need enough ego to avoid stepping in front of a speeding bus". But a healthy person knows "self" is in relationship with the larger world, and awareness of the needs of others leads to compassion. There is no such thing as an absolute, autonomous self. This simple truth is as close as your next breath, which is the most immediate need for self-survival. Yet the oxygen we require is freely given to us, released by plants and algae within the last six months. We are dependent on the massively interconnected web of a living planet.
Narcissism, an inflated sense of self-importance, is a psychological response to childhood trauma. Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others' feelings, inability to handle criticism, and a sense of entitlement. As the narcissistic disorder becomes more extreme, there is less awareness, concern, or compassion for others. The malignant end-stage expresses as megalomania and sociopathy, where the entire world is viewed as a simple extension of the individual.
I first encountered the term "malignant narcissist" as a description of Hitler. At the end of WW2, when it was clear that Germany had lost, Hitler took this as a personal loss. He was planning to die and imagined the entire German population should die as well. He ordered his troops to destroy all critical public works like sewer and water plants, dams and roadways. Fortunately, most Germans were not that insane, figured there would be life after the war, and refused to follow those orders.
The second time I encountered the term "malignant narcissist" was shortly after President Trump was elected. Trump's father taught him there were only two kinds of people, killers and losers, so Trump learned to attack any opposition in his path toward domination. Since his goals are always correct in his own mind, there are no moral, ethical, or legal limitations on his tactics. His actions in office continue this psychological style.
From his announcement speech, he has been attacking, unfettered by factual reality. The truth is whatever he believes at the moment, by virtue of his belief in it. This is part of the charismatic charm of the sociopath: their absolute, unwavering confidence.
Convinced of his "stable genius", he never acknowledges mistakes, blames others, and has no tolerance for contradiction. With no regard for the workings of government, he did no planning for a transition team when he took office. Almost three years later, many essential positions are still vacant, or filled with temporary appointees. Rather than select people with competence and knowledge, he surrounds himself with "yes men" who won't challenge him. It has taken awhile to find enough totally compliant people, which has resulted in the highest turnover in the cabinet of any president. The requirement is absolute loyalty to Trump, without regard to the laws or needs of the country. This insanity makes sense to Trump, because he believes that he, and only he, IS the country.
Such malignancy at the top means America is no longer a trustworthy ally, and has lost status in the world. The country is more radically polarized. The environment is being sold off to the highest bidder, while the rest of the world is awakening to the climate crisis. The very wealthy pay less taxes, while deficits soar, and we pay higher cost because of the ineffectual tariff war. Consequently, the global economy is slowing, the stock market has stalled for almost two years, economic uncertainty is increasing, and recession worries are growing. Trump has embraced dictators and helped destabilize Europe and the Middle East.
The revelation that Trump blackmailed another country to interfere in the next election, by getting dirt on his political opponent, has precipitated impeachment proceedings. He supplied proof of his misdeeds, bragged about it, and doubled down by publically inviting several other nations to interfere as well. This is consistent with his belief that if he does it, it is legal, backed up by his hand-picked Attorney General.
It is now time for Republicans leaders to decide. Are they going to support the Constitution they swore to defend, or allow this corrupt malignancy to define their party and destroy this country?