Trump's a Narcissist. What's His Supporters' Excuse?

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Here’s how the Mayo Clinic’s website describes the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don't receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior.

Remind you of anyone? A certain real estate developer/reality TV celebrity/Internet troll/presidential candidate, maybe? The candidate whose egotism and boorishness animate the incoherent bombast that serves as his stump speech and the absurd boasts he calls his “policies”? Mussolini springs to mind, too. Come to think of it, America’s wannabe strongman, Donald Trump, does seem to be imitating Il Duce’s pouting, tilted chin swagger.

I’ve always believed our country is basically idiot proof. I think our founders devised a system of government that so wisely accords with human nature, encouraging our best qualities and protecting against our worst, that no experience with catastrophe or incompetent government or social folly could permanently harm us. I still believe it, although the Trump phenomenon is testing my faith.

Because I still hold on to that faith -- however tenuously -- I don’t believe The Donald will become The President. I don’t believe he will be the nominee of the Republican Party. I don’t believe it because it would mean that after more than two centuries of self-governance, a majority of Americans had abandoned our civic duty and given over the country entirely to idiots to ruin. Even in my most pessimistic moments, I choose to believe we’re not capable of that.

Trump’s selection as the GOP standard-bearer would sever the party from the small government, free market, strong defense principles that still, even in its current state of noisy factionalism, form a consensus philosophy. There is nothing -- repeat, nothing -- remotely conservative, prudent, or even intelligible about Trump’s thoughts on how to solve America’s problems. They amount to nothing more than rants and taunts that evince the expertise, knowledge and maturity of your average loudmouthed oaf.

A Trump presidency -- if his indifference to the Constitution, his ludicrous “plans” to make America great again, his bullying behavior, and his troubled psyche aren’t entirely an act -- would likely plunge us into a constitutional crisis before he finished his inaugural address. It would surely and instantly, to borrow the man’s own rhetoric, make us losers, dummies, and laughingstocks in the eyes of the world.

And yet this plainly unsuitable jerk appears to be intensifying his support with every obnoxious and imbecilic thing he says. So, let me address the real authors of this depressing turn of events -- his supporters.

What the hell is wrong with you?

I don’t know for certain if Trump really is an aspiring Mussolini or a nut or a black hole of narcissism. I’m not a psychiatrist. He might just be taking advantage of the low state of politics in America to build up his singular if weird personal brand. But whatever he’s doing, he is clearly an awful human being. And if you can’t recognize that then there’s something pretty clearly wrong with you, too.

Politicians and pundits are making excuses for you. They say you’re so sick of bad government and polarized politics that you’re willing to take a chance on making Donald Trump the most powerful man on Earth.  I say you’ve taken leave of your senses. I say you’re delusional. I say you’ve confused reality with reality TV. I say you’d rather sulk and bitch about America’s problems than help fix them.

Do you really think the dislocations caused by the transition from an industrial society to an information economy can be reversed with threats and tariffs? Do you really think rising urban crime rates, structural unemployment, failing schools, the proliferation of single-parent households, and the growing heroin epidemic can all be fixed by sealing our borders?  Do you really think it’s even possible to round up 11 million people, the vast majority of whom are hard-working, decent folks, and force them out of the country? Do you really think that would make America better?

If you do, I say you’re looking for scapegoats, not solutions. I say you’re not patriots trying to make America great again. You’re fools prepared to hurt the country and the world far more than any political “establishment” has or would ever do.

Mark Salter is the former chief of staff to Sen. John McCain and was a senior adviser to the McCain for President campaign.

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