On the Morning After the election, my mediator/problem solver instincts kicked in to appreciate the values and motives behind Trump voters. That’s what I do, back up and work for a balanced perspective. It’s where a mediator goes to find common ground and ways forward. Days later, however, I find myself more worried, not less.
It’s not because I’m thinking about the horrible things that can befall a society led by someone like Donald. Most of those are still hypothetical. The reasons I’ve been unable to rationalize my way out of a deep dread, something I can usually do easily, or to imagine a credible scenario that leads to a positive outcome for anyone—the nation, the world, or even non racist trump supporters, are more immediate and systemic.
First, I don’t think Donald Trump will surround himself with smart, experienced, knowledgeable, and responsible people who understand government and care about making it work well. He doesn’t know or relate to those people. While a mature brain trust could be a failsafe for a president who simply lacked experience or intelligence or vision, it’s likely that his administration will be filled with opportunistic political operatives who find him. Since Mr. Trump has shown no interest in governing, and appears to lack the patience, curiosity, discipline, or temperament for studying and solving complex problems, I suspect he will quickly turn over the unglamorous business of governance to those who at least feign loyalty. These won’t be deep or seasoned friendships, or relationships based on a history of respect, he doesn’t have those. If the past predicts the future, he’ll choose Christies and Gulianis and Palins and Lewandowskys, people with similar temperaments to his, vindictive, despotic-oriented individuals with extreme (if not anti-) social views and agendas which they will unabashedly pursue like kids turned loose in a candy store.
A second barrier to optimism is the naivete of the not deplorable Trump supporters. Today I read a statement from a Muslim woman who answered a Washington Post invitation for people to say why they voted for Trump. She resented Democrats and the media for calling Trump supporters uneducated and racist, finds her health insurance too expensive, and disrespects Hillary for not saying “radical Islamic terrorism.” She admitted she didn’t like the way Trump talked about women and walls but found that inconsequential, saying…
I have absolutely no fears about being a Muslim in a “Trump America.” The checks and balances in America and our rich history of social justice and civil rights will never allow the fear-mongering that has been attached to candidate Trump’s rhetoric to come to fruition.
This reminded me of the story about a man on his roof in a rising flood who rejects repeated offers of help from would be rescuers telling each he was a man of faith and that God would save him. He finally drowns and complains to God who points out that he sent the police, then the national guard, and finally the rescue guys in a boat! What more did the man expect him to do? Does that 54 year old Muslim woman think civility just happens in America, that we don’t have to work every day to keep those values and behaviors, those civil rights, central to our society?
I started off seeing the Trump election as a rebellion. After listening to people explain their votes, I’m starting to see it more as a tantrum. A child smashing the toy when he didn’t get his turn to play. Even where the anger was legitimate, this reaction was reckless. Ironically, as my understanding increased over the last three days, my efforts at sympathy are giving way to anger. I’ll get past this as I look for solutions. That’s what I do.
Finally, I don’t think Donald Trump as president will change from Trump the narcissistic candidate and sharp dealing businessman. I don’t think he can. He is driven by a disordered personality that has two defining characteristics: little or no empathy—narcissists literally do not care how others feel; and the need to be center stage and on top (the winner) in all situations. This isn’t so much a preference that can be exercised with personal discretion as it is a compulsion. There is little or no evidence that Donald yields to anyone’s feelings, values, or opinions. He cannot and will not be changed by the weight of his new responsibilities. Donald’s narcissism will rule his administration just as it rules him.
I could be wrong about these discouraging opinions, and hope I am. But right now on day three after the election, it’s what I see.