With the US Election only days away, the rest of the world watches on as the American public decides who will be the next ‘leader of the free world’ – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
Hillary Clinton has been a key player on the world stage for years now, so we have some idea of what she would be like as President. On the other hand, self-described ‘outsider’ Donald Trump is an unknown when it comes to political leadership. So it’s worth considering…
What kind of a President would Donald Trump be?
One way to judge this is to look at previous world leaders with similar personality characteristics. And according to a number of mental health professionals – including Harvard Professor Howard Gardener – one of the most striking things about Donald Trump’s personality is that he is a textbook narcissist.
Narcissism is sometimes known as the “disease that hurts other people“. It is self-love on steroids – but not in a good way. The narcissist feeds on the admiration of others, seeing themselves as the hero of their own story with everyone else in their life lowly ‘bit players’.
In terms of previous narcissistic world leaders – three of the most famous in the last 100 years have been Stalin, Hitler and Sadam Hussein.
These three world leaders were obviously extremes – but is Trump really that bad? Should we be worried? If Trump wins the election next week, exactly how bad is his narcissism?
Here’s a handy checklist:
The top 5 signs your would-be world leader’s narcissism is out of control
FIVE: They throw a tantrum if you insult them
A narcissist will often put others down. Whether it’s calling an entire race rapists, drug lords, and criminals or referring to women as pigs, slobs and dogs – narcissists are often legendary sledgers. But throw just a little of it back their way, and no matter how old the narcissist, they will typically respond like a five-year-old.
Here’s a recent example of how US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump responded to criticism from Hillary Clinton during the third Presidential Debate held in October:
FOUR: They say ‘Heh – if you’ve got a nuclear bomb, why not use it?’
One of the key trademarks of a narcissist is their pathological inability to feel empathy. Here’s an example:
After being told at an event that two men beat a Hispanic 58-year-old homeless man in Trump’s name —breaking his nose and urinating on him, Trump said: “I will say the people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and want this country to be great again.”
Trump demonstrates no empathy whatsoever for the homeless man. Instead, he focuses on how passionate this must mean his followers are about him.
So what happens when you take someone whose singular focus is on themselves – and give them the ability to materially impact the safety and well-being not just of the USA, but of much of the world?
To date, the world has arguably been kept safe from wholesale nuclear attack by the ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘ or ‘MAD’ policy. This policy assumes that if two countries both have nuclear weapons of mass destruction, then neither side will use them for fear of reprisal and the tremendous potential for loss of life on both sides. But exactly how would this work if you put someone who doesn’t care about anybody else’s pain in charge of the world largest’s stockpile of nuclear weapons?
Trump has publicly stated that he would “not do first strikes“. However, it has been reported that in a foreign intelligence briefing a few months back, Trump asked a foreign policy expert three times within an hour:
“If we have [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?”
THREE: They have to wear flame-resistant pants
For a narcissist, the truth at any point in time is what suits them. If it helps them to say all Mexicans are criminals and rapists one minute and then claim to love all Hispanics the next – then that’s what they’ll do.
Pulitzer prize winning fact-checker website Politifact assesses all American presidential candidate’s statements against the actual facts. According to them, only 1 in 25 of Trump’s statements is completely true. Even if you include statements that are ‘mostly true’ and ‘half true’, the count still only comes in at 3 in 10 – leaving Trump’s pants well and truly in flames for at least 70% of the time.
To avoid his followers being distracted by the readily apparent contradictions in what he says, Trump regularly demonises the media at his rallies. Trump calls the media ‘horrible liars’ and tells his supporters that he’ll tell them “what the truth is”.
Ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott may not have been the suppository of all wisdom – but clearly, Trump believes that he is.
TWO: They literally believe they are the Messiah
As the election campaign has progressed, Trump seems to be speaking of himself in increasingly glowing terms, and often in the third person. More disturbingly, as John Oliver recently pointed out on Last Week Tonight, Trump is now speaking of himself as though he is literally the Messiah:
Many of Trump’s supporters seem to have picked up on this messianic vibe, following Trump with the unwavering religious fervour not often seen outside a church.
ONE: They think the only reason they wouldn’t be elected President of the United States is because the election is rigged
And finally – the number one sign that a would-be world leader’s narcissism is out of control, is that he thinks the only way he could lose an election for President of the United States is because the election is rigged.
In the final presidential debate, Trump famously refused to confirm that he would accept the outcome of the election on November 8, saying that he would wait until the outcome was known before he would make up his mind.
Trump subsequently clarified how he will judge whether the election is rigged – saying:
Not – “I’ll accept the results after my scrutineers have confirmed that everything is above board” or “I’ll accept the results following an independent inquiry into possible voter fraud”. No. In this ultimate act of narcissism, Trump’s only yardstick as to whether the election for the most senior political office in the world is rigged is whether or not he wins.
The verdict is in – Trump’s narcissism may actually break records
Trump isn’t the first narcissist to want to rule the world – but if he wins the upcoming election, he would be taking the reins of power in the USA at a crucial time in world history. At a time when the world’s economies are transitioning to cope with the information age, globalisation and a burgeoning population. At a time when the humanitarian crisis is greater than it has ever been. And at a time when global warming poses a huge threat to the future of the planet.
Right now, the world needs strong global leaders to navigate through these problems. But the strength that is needed is not the brash self-confidence of a manipulative narcissist who was literally born with a golden spoon in his mouth and who will focus primarily on his own personal well-being rather than the good of all. What the world needs now is global leaders with the maturity to bring an end to the destruction that war brings and forge a path that unites rather than destroys. Whatever Trump’s level of narcissism – he is definitely not that person.
This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.