Everyone has an opinion about why Donald Trump is still the Republicans’ #1 candidate.
His politically incorrect stance on immigration, foreign policy, trade, Muslims, and even on beating up people who disrupt his speeches, is a combination of appalling, intriguing, and flat out entertaining.
Many of his supporters don’t seem a bit bothered by his bullying style. He has stated that if fellow Republicans say anything that is not accurate or a lie it will be his pleasure to sue them. Geez. Maybe if I say the wrong thing he’ll sue me and the notoriety will make me famous enough to sell my books. On the other hand, I don’t know any psychiatrists with an eight billion dollar war chest. Maybe it’s better he doesn’t sue me…
But, back to, Why is this man who has been identified as grandiose, narcissistic, brilliant, a fool, and dozens of other colorful adjectives, still the front-runner and gaining every week in the polls?
There’s a concept in psychiatric thinking that seems to answer the question. It’s called Identification with the Aggressor. Another way to look at it is that the weak find solace and strength in the powerful.
Think about the battered wife who goes out of her way to hide her bruised body and protect the man who regularly harms her. Her perverse logic is that he’s really a good man who can’t help himself. The truth, if she ever has the strength to face her real feelings, is that she believes she desperately needs him. He is the strength that she doesn’t have and without him she believes she will surely fail. She identifies with the bully’s strength and can function better because his strength is now her strength.
So are The Donald’s supporters all like battered wives?
For years we have helplessly endured a pathetic, weak congress who have led our country into a dysfunctional mess. Then along comes a billionaire who couldn’t care less what he says or who he offends. It’s exciting and heady being able to tell the establishment to go to hell. It’s fun watching and listening to someone tell all these professional politicians that they are incompetent fools.
On the other hand, letting a bully loose in the world schoolyard is very dangerous. Just like the battered wife loses her identity as a human being, we risk losing who we are as a democracy and a country that thrives and encourages diversity.
So what’s the answer? Let our current politicos abuse us or let The Donald abuse us?
We don’t have to let anyone abuse us! We are not battered wives or husbands or need to be a battered electorate. Vote for the people you believe in. Forget what party they belong to! Focus on what they can do to solve our current dilemmas. We don’t have to identify with a man we don’t believe in just because he’s not afraid to say whatever thought passes through his mind.
Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.