So far we have explored the nature of myth in a positive sense, a number of useful myths and some destructive myths in America. Now we turn to the myth which some see as creating an American crisis but which others see as the key to our salvation as a nation. We are taking about the Trumpian Myth. Let’s look at what Trump brings to the table.
Greek mythology contains the myth of Narcissus among many others. According to the legend, Narcissus was known for his beauty. A long life was predicted for him as long as he never recognized himself. He rejected the love of a nymph and fell in love with his own reflection in the water and eventually died either of frustration or possibly by killing himself.
There have been many theories about what is going on with Trump. One is that he has narcissistic personality disorder. Another is that he has antisocial personality disorder. Both are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM 5). A third option is that he has a combination of the two.
A person diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder must show at least five of the following symptoms:
1. A grand sense of self importance.
2. Preoccupation with dreams of unlimited power, success,
physical attractiveness and love.
3. Belief that he or she (usually he) is of special or high status.
4. A need for excessive admiration.
5. A sense of entitlement and expectation of favorable treatment or
6. Exploitation of other people to achieve personal goals.
7. Lack of empathy regarding the needs and feelings of other people.
8. Envy of other people or thinking that other people envy them.
9. Arrogant behaviors and attitudes.
A person diagnosed as having Antisocial Personality Disorder must show
at least three of the following symptoms:
- Repeated failure to follow social norms resulting in grounds for arrest.
- Engaging in deceitfulness.
- Impulsivity and not planning ahead.
- Irritability and aggressiveness.
- Reckless disregard or concern for the safety of other people.
- Chronic irresponsibility.
- Lack of remorse about hurting others.
I had no difficulty finding all of these symptoms in both groups as being present in Trump. Does that mean it is necessary to choose one diagnosis or another? He clearly shows patterns consistent with both diagnoses.
Although there is no combined diagnosis in the DSM-5, Arlin Cuncic at www.verywellmind.com discusses the idea of a narcissistic sociopath with features of both the personality disorders we just reviewed. Here each of the two diagnoses intensify and make each other worse. As with each of the separate diagnoses, the combined pattern first shows itself during adolescence and most likely is due to both genetic and environmental factors. Cuncic describes a person with both as “on a quest for power and control, who uses the love and admiration of others as a tool to dominate and manipulate. There will be no guilt, no apologies, and no remorse coming from the narcissistic sociopath.” This also appears to me to be a very apt description of Trump.
All of this brings us to the Trumpian Myth. Wikipedia describes A Big Lie as “a propaganda device by a politician used for political purposes- a great distortion or misrepresentation of the facts.” It goes on to describe the term as one coined by Hitler in Mein Kampf as “a lie so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
As I see it there are currently three parts to the Trumpian Myth:
1. The first is MAGA. Paul Blumenthal describes the part of the myth as “foretelling a great and cataclysmic future event where deliverance will arrive through the exertion and sacrifice of believers. The present order will be swept away.” This is the promise on which Trump ran and which he promised to continue if reelected through the slogan “Keep America Great”
as if he had accomplished his goal during his administration of making America great.
In my assessment, he made a good start on sweeping away our democracy by diluting and crippling many of the federal agencies which support democracy. He did this mostly by restrictive policies and installation of agency directors who either had no idea how to run their agencies or who had ideas of how to cripple them. Yet he does deserve credit for supporting the COVID vaccines although he did undermine other aspects of containing the pandemic. Other than supporting the vaccine development, I had trouble finding anything positive unless you were super-rich and wanted a tax cut.
2. The second part of the myth is that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was not an attack but a “love fest” and that Trump did not incite it. In addition, any Republican who does blame Trump for any part in the insurrection (or lack of insurrection) needs to be purged from the ranks.
3. The third part is that Trump actually won the 2020 election. Phony votes were supposedly introduced by Democrats or by others acting in their interest. Seemingly endless recounts and sham recounts have been the order of the day in order to expose the “Big Steal” with more planned across the country.
Under the pretense of voter fraud which must have taken place in their view,
Republicans are hard at work in many states to reintroduce restrictive laws to limit voting by undesirable individuals who might vote against Trump such as Blacks, and other people of color as well as poor and younger voters.
These aspects of the Trump myth are touted by the loudest voices in the Republican Party with practically total support or at least lack of objection on the part of Republican House and Senate members of Congress.
The final post in this series will focus on what to do about all of this.