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What Drives Trump?

Published by marco on

The article The Death of Debate by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) describes what makes Trump tick in what I think is a far more accurate and reasoned manner than most people seem to be able to muster.

I would like to preface (and will re-address in the summary), that it’s pretty clear that Trump is not alone in his motivations. He is just a very extreme example. While there are many U.S. politicians who are interested in doing what they perceive as good for others, many of the most powerful are very clearly in the business primarily for themselves. They may not have started out that way, but they very definitely espouse and promote abhorrent views because it brings them personal power and wealth.

Back to Trump’s psychoanalysis.

Trump’s primary motivation is promoting himself. The thing that sticks out the most in his recently released taxes is that he makes the most money from his own personal brand. This is a happy coincidence, because Trump really seems to be the only thing that matters to Trump. That is, other things may matter, but they take a very definite back seat to the continued adulation of adoring fans. Viewed through this lens, it explains much better what Trump does: he’s constantly calculating how to maintain as much adoring support as possible.

“There is a reason Trump could not bring himself to condemn white supremacists. They love him and he wants their love. It’s not that Trump loves them. Trump loves Trump and nothing but Trump, but to the extent they serve Trump, he will say nothing to lose their love. As for anything else about them, he couldn’t care less.”

Because he doesn’t really have any agenda more important to him than building a cult around himself, his followers’ other beliefs must be secondary. A supporter is a supporter. By endorsing these supporters, he’s not in danger of losing other potential supporters—because those people have already made it abundantly clear that the effort would not be worth it.

In a way, the anti-Trump vehemence obviates Trump’s ever moving toward a more reasonable stance. Why would anyone, least of all Trump, bother even trying to court people who’ve already promised that they will never be supporters? Why waste the effort?

Perhaps a coquettish approach by liberals—wherein they dangle the possibility that they would support him—would tame him into trying to get their support. Or maybe neither side can even stomach the thought. At any rate, the current situation only radicalizes both sides. This is not an accident; see Modern News Media is a Business.

Trump was a lifelong Democrat until a dozen years ago. He doesn’t believe in anything other than Trump. He’s also not particularly adept at anything but promoting himself. He can’t even choose competent people.

“He has no health care plan. He has no COVID plan. He lacks the intellectual capacity and focus to make a plan. He lies shamelessly to try to bullshit his way through his inability to have a plan because, in what passes as the mind of Trump, the object is to make it out the other side. If lying is the only path he’s got, then it’s the path he has to take, entirely justifiable in his contorted capacity to reason if it saves him from exposure as the fool.”

While this helps one understand how Trump ticks, it also reveals that he is not a person that anyone one interested in having a sensible administration would want in there. Quite frankly, anyone so focused on self-aggrandizement is a danger to the rest of us.

Greenfield finishes his article with the following rhetorical flourish.

“Facts and logic matter.

“Integrity matters.

“Principles matter.

“Trump is the death of all that matters. Trump is our punishment for abandoning the things that matter.

“This isn’t to endorse Biden, but to condemn Trump.”

This is a powerful sentiment with which I mostly agree. I would alter it by replacing “Trump” with “Our current government”. It’s not just Trump who’s self-aggrandizing—posturing for power and wealth and reputation. It’s so much of the rest of the government that’s not interested in “facts, logic, integrity, or principles”.

Replace Trump with Biden. Is there now more of any of these four categories? No. The Congress—House and Senate—are also rotten. By all means, get rid of Trump. But it’s basically the “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” principle, when that is not at all what the problem is. Trump is an excrescence, but only in that he doesn’t bother to try to hide his goals. He’s does what he does—he is what he is—because it is what gains him the support and success that he craves.