Impeach him! Take him out with the 25th Amendment! Even perhaps force him to resign in disgrace (fat chance).
There is a hue and cry throughout the United States – actually, throughout the world – about Donald Trump actually doing what many people have been predicting he was going to do. That is, incite his rabid followers to insurrection.
You could see it coming. Trump was running through the various options to stave off failure: an incendiary election campaign, challenging the unfavourable results in court, trying to intimidate local officials, a PR and social media campaign, probably even bribery. He even tried to strong-arm Mike Pence, blind to the fact that Pence will (of course) be eyeing a 2024 presidential run of his own.
What other options did Trump have, at this point?
So now there is a massive upswell of support for Trump’s immediate removal. He’s dangerous, they say. He has the nuclear codes. He could try to pardon himself and his family members. He could wreak havoc on the administration of the U.S. government.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Lions and tigers and bears.
All of this is true, by the way, if perhaps a tad more breathless than is strictly necessary. He is in theory a danger to the country, and maybe even to the world. Either removing him, or putting him in the time out corner (without his toys, of course), is probably wise, despite the many checks and balances that prevent him from doing real damage.
But this may be missing another possibility, one that may even be a more likely short term reality.
As with anyone else whose situation suggests a potential suicide attempt, the smart thing to do may be to put Trump on suicide watch, not just for the next thirteen days, but perhaps for the next several months.
(I heard that.)
He’s a narcissistic bully who cares only about himself. He has a pathological belief that he can talk or fight his way out of any corner. He is a psychopath with no fear of consequences.
Accepting all those things, there is a risk that we all get immersed in the minutiae of the moment, instead of stepping back and viewing what is happening with more perspective.
Trump reached for the highest success he could possibly attain in his lifetime, President of the United States. Almost certainly driven by resentment over his father’s view of him, Trump has spent his life trying to prove to the ghost of his father that he was not the lightweight fuckup his father believed him to be.
He showed he can become wealthier than his father. He can have any woman he wants. He can have many successful (!) children.
And, he can be President of the United States.
So, Dad, what do you say now? I’m not going to amount to anything, you say? Sorry, I can’t hear you. You were going to tell me about how you became President of the United States, the most powerful person in the world? What, you couldn’t achieve that? Ah…too bad. I did.
Trump was willing to do anything to become President, including cheating. He made a deal with the devil, Vladimir Putin, which of course shouldn’t have surprised anyone. He spent his whole life making deals with the devil – cheating, bullying, hurting others – in order to prove his father was wrong.
And then, to the amazement of all, he won. It was through cheating, and through a quirk of the electoral college, and contrary to the actual will of the people, but it was a win. He was President.
In 1969, Dr. Laurence Peter wrote a seminal book on management, The Peter Principle. The essential truth in the book: in a hierarchy, people rise to their level of incompetence.
And so there he was, Donald J. Trump. He had risen to his level of incompetence. He had caught the tiger by the tail, and suddenly… (what’s this?)… he had a tiger by the tail.
Unlike most people who rise to their level of incompetence, though, Trump had all eyes on him, all the time, every minute of every day. He was being judged by everyone, and most people were judging him to be incompetent (or evil).
No surprise. He was incompetent.
For four years Trump struggled pitifully to be a successful President, and made whatever compromises he had to make to achieve that. More deals with the devil, as it were.
To get Mitch and the boys onside, he cut taxes, decimated health care, and damaged the environment. To get conservatives onside, he stacked the courts with conservative judges, basically delegating his appointment powers to the Federalist Society. To keep his public support, he deliberately focused on the most gullible, least educated, people in the country, or those radicals with such toxic agendas that they could not get support anywhere else, like white supremacists.
And anyone who said he was less than a big success was the enemy. CNN, The New York Times, Mitt Romney, the list goes on.
Despite his best efforts, Trump was not a successful President, and pretty well everyone knew that. While Republicans still used him because he had a broad base of populist support, the evidence was there. Anyone of any substance left his administration earlier than they should have. Trump lost more good people than any other President in history.
But the real test came with re-election.
It was perhaps a little bit of a surprise that Trump ran for re-election, given the sentiment in the country, but it was not a complete shock. While not a genius, Trump was smart enough to realize that turning tail after one term could allow the doubters and nay-sayers to say he was a failure. On the other hand, winning re-election would vindicate him.
Keep in mind, Trump thought he still had his Russian disinformation support, and the benefit of the structure of the Electoral College, plus now he had the power of the Presidency.
But he knew he was in for a tough battle, particularly when the Democrats chose a well-liked moderate to challenge him. That’s why he tried to stack the deck by making it more difficult for people, particularly those in urban areas, to vote, and by complaining about states that facilitated voting rather than squashing it.
And he lost.
Since November 3rd, we have seen a man flailing about, unable to accept his own failure, both as a President and as a person. His ridiculous court challenges only happened because of the support of crazies (like Rudy, Sidney, and Lin). Serious people were too embarrassed to participate.
One after another, Republican lawmakers around the country – people who voted for Trump – deserted him as they realized that he was a failure, and they needed to distance themselves from his toxicity.
So he incited a mob. He sent out a series of speakers (Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr, Mo Brooks) to get them riled up, then personally instructed thousands of people to march on the Capitol and be “strong” with the legislators.
Of course it was beyond the pale. But it is important to realize that it was a desperate act by a desperate man.
People have described Trump today as “unhinged”, “deranged”, and similar adjectives. He is increasingly isolated, supported only (we think – is this for certain?) by his family. Allies, most of whom never really liked him anyway, have denounced him publicly.
You might think this makes him dangerous, but it probably does not. Trump can’t actually do anything himself. He doesn’t have a machine gun nest on the roof of the White House that he can occupy and start firing. He doesn’t have bombs placed strategically around the country, just waiting for him to push a button to denote them.
Everything Trump could do to be dangerous requires the co-operation of other people. He can order that things happen, but other people have to actually carry out those orders. He can’t initiate military action unless generals pass on his orders, and rank and file officers and soldiers follow those orders. They will not. He can’t issue a pardon unless someone else writes it up for him. That is not going to happen. He can’t cause a diplomatic crisis unless foreign leaders believe he has the power to do what he says. They know he does not.
People talk about Trump being dangerous because he is being backed into a corner. No, he was already backed into a corner by the electorate, and he has already tried to fight back every nasty way he could. He failed.
This is Icarus flying too close to the sun, and as his wings are melting he realizes that his father Fred Trump – asshole though he might have been – was right. Donnie was never all that.
And, as he crashes back down to the earth, Trump is realizing that he is in a whack of trouble. He will certainly be charged in New York, and probably other states, for pre-Presidency actions. He may well be charged in Georgia for his Raffensperger call. He may be charged with inciting the Capital riot. The list goes on.
To say nothing, one should add, about the many lawsuits that individuals and companies will launch against him, knowing that he has been weakened but still may have a pile of money.
People with no way out sometimes take the only way out: suicide.
The fact that he is a bully and a narcissist is not a barrier to suicide. In fact, those things make it more likely.
There is a long scholarship associated with the connections between narcissism and low self-esteem, including suicide. While much debated, the majority of psychologists would probably agree that narcissists are at higher risk of suicide than the average person.
Similarly, the association between bullying and suicide has been studied quite a bit. While we tend to focus on suicide by those who have been the victims of bullying (particularly young people), in fact there is also a strong correlation between being a bully and suicidal tendencies. Bullies are often acting out their own feelings of inadequacy.
Now, some might argue that if the evil Trump takes his own life, that would be a good thing for the USA. Hatred of Trump has no bounds, in many cases, and perhaps not without good reason.
Whether it would be good for the USA (likely not), we cannot forget that Trump is a 72-year-old man with psychological problems.
Politics and public policy are fine subjects, and sometimes even fun to discuss.
This article is not about politics, nor public policy. It is about a troubled human being, one who could well harm himself. It doesn’t matter whether you like him (I don’t). It matters only that he is a human being that needs help.
The right thing to do – for his family, and for those others around him inside and outside the White House – is to put him on a suicide watch, and actively prevent him from having the means to take his own life.
Donald Trump will certainly go down in history as the worst American President ever. He should not go down in history as a President who died at his own hand.
Jay Shepherd, January 8, 2021