Brash, arrogant, selfish, self-centred, boorish, loutish, cruel, unreasonable, difficult, impossible, inconsiderate, ungrateful, petty, petulant, sulking, crass, insensitive, irrational, contentious, argumentative, aggravating, insulting, crazy, wicked and mad. – Paul Collar
Donald Trump, in the past twelve months, has been labelled a sexual predator, evil, fascist, bully, pervert, demagogue, shameless liar, racist pig, misogynist. And yet next week the man will occupy the mightiest political position on this planet. With record 17 candidates in the Republican primaries, Trump’s mathematical chance of becoming a president was less than 3%. And yet he beat his opponents, overcame the global media assault, survived leaked tapes and proved poll numbers wrong. Can anyone grab the world’s top job without having some positive qualities? What can we learn from Donald Trump?
Independent: Trump is faithless as far as political affiliation goes. As recently as between 2001-2008, he was a Democrat. In essence, he is an Independent who won on a Republican ticket.
The modern world (particularly social media) suffers from the halo effect (if I like someone, I like everything that person says or does) and the Devil effect, which is the reverse. Each of us is expected to join a camp, take a stance and bash the opposite camp. In political terms, such biases rob our independence. For example, in the USA, a Republican candidate is expected not only to reduce taxes but also to support guns, and oppose gay marriage and abortion. The conservative camp has defined this manifesto, and if you wish to belong to that camp, you must tick the entire checklist.
Trump is an exception. He has no party and no position. In future, if he wants, he could reduce taxes and support abortion at the same time.
This independence is worth emulating if we wish to be objective analysts, to get rid of our halo effect, to not belong to any camp but judge actions on individual merit. Right actions of people we hate can also be right.
The finisher: During a TV interview (after Trump had won the Republican nomination), the anchor asked: ‘Mr Trump, by becoming the candidate for the presidential election, you have already achieved so much. Whether you win the final election or not, you can always look back with pride at your incredible performance.’
Trump looked at her with disdain.
‘No, no.’ he yelled. ‘If I don’t become the president, all this has no meaning. It’s a complete waste, a ZERO achievement.’
His was a strong and sincere feeling. If you ask a woman, who has delivered a stillborn baby, her experience of pregnancy, she will be equally annoyed. The aim of the nine-month pregnancy is to deliver a healthy, bouncy baby. A pregnancy that has produced a dead baby is utterly meaningless.
Whatever is not a 100% success is a 100% failure. Trump is a fanatically success-driven guy. Obama said “we can”, Trump says ‘I will”. Trump’s extraordinary desire to win and his binary focus can be important in our lives.
Over the last couple of years, I started and abandoned three unfinished books, including one novel. Should I be proud of this? Did the process of writing matter as much as the result? Of course not. Inspired by Trump, I have decided not to leave any book unfinished in future. Self-doubt and a high sense of standard made me discard those projects. Trump has shown that with supreme willpower and single-minded focus on results, anything is possible. If Trump can win the US presidential election, surely my books can see the light of day.
No mask, no pretence: Not only the US presidents, each of us wears a civil mask. Gossip is proof that we say one thing in a person’s absence and quite another when he is around.
One of my friends, let me call her Jennifer, has faced a dilemma for quite some time. On her Facebook wall, her old-time friend Maggie quite vehemently supports Brexit, annexation of Crimea, is anti-gay, says climate change is a hoax, and believes 9/11 was a conspiracy theory and loves both Farage and Putin. Jennifer can’t let Maggie have the last word, so their FB correspondence is long, bitter and a source of entertainment for the rest of the FB crowd. Over the years, Jennifer has felt increasingly uncomfortable; she knew little of Maggie’s fascist leanings in their youth. Whenever we talk, Jennifer complains about how intolerable Maggie has become. But she can’t unfriend or block Maggie on Facebook. Because that may hurt Maggie’s feelings.
Or take an example from my own life. Occasionally, on Sundays, I come across S.K. (30 years old) who is also a runner like me. Depending on the latest running book he is reading, he may be in running shoes, Vibram, or sandals. Sometimes even barefoot. Whenever we meet, he comments on my running posture, my stretching, frequency (five times a week is too much, you are burning yourself), and speed (without interval training, your timing won’t improve).
He finishes every marathon race at least twenty five minutes later than I do.
When he is giving me the unsolicited advice, my mind is saying: ‘S.K., what an idiot you are! A theoretical idiot. I ran the first time, when you were not even born. You are injury prone with all your experiments. How dare you criticize me, when you take a half hour longer?’
However, while I mentally say all this, I am politely smiling and pretending to absorb all the tips S.K. is giving me. This is my mask, because of my upbringing, because I am decent, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.
Both Jennifer and I need to learn from Trump. Trump says what he thinks at that moment. He can call anyone nasty with millions watching him. He can antagonize, cut off anybody from his life. When a conscientious person cares about the feelings of some idiots, he is often hurting himself in the process. Jennifer should remove Maggie from her FB friends, and I should tell S.K. to go to hell with his advice. Now with social media and smart phones, you can’t easily avoid unwanted people. The remedy is to follow Trump and tell them in their face what you think of them.
Idiot Savant: A person who is in general mentally defective but displays unusual aptitude or brilliance in some special field. (Webster dictionary)
And now a word about why Trump behaves the way he does, and why you and I may not be able to follow his behavior, even when inspired.
It’s time for me to apologise for the deception carried out at the start of this article. Paul Collar, more than forty years ago, was talking about Bobby Fischer, and not Donald Trump. I had used this quote in my Fischer obituary. (Open diary week 5: 2008)
The point is how surprisingly similar Fischer and Trump are in many respects. Both of them were born in the 1940s, of German ancestry and surnames, and grew up in adjoining NY boroughs (Fischer in Brooklyn, Trump in Queens). Both undoubtedly suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) characterized by excessive and vocal self-love and little or no feelings for others.
I have studied Bobby Fischer’s life far more than Trump’s. Fischer certainly qualified as an Idiot Savant, a genius in chess and completely socially inept. Those who considered themselves close to Fischer were finally sick of his paranoia and insults, and left him. Fischer, like Trump, said whatever was on his mind.
If these parallels are correct, I am convinced Trump is not a fascist, evil or a liar as is generally imagined. Doesn’t mean he is good-natured or cultured. He, like Fischer, is born with defective wiring in the brain. Trump may be absolutely sincere about whatever he says at that particular time. No shrewd or premeditated political strategy or psychological warfare is behind it. His actions perceived as cunning, or hypocritical may not be deliberate.
Fischer knew he would become the world champion one day, and Trump knew he would become the USA president one day. Both stupendous achievements of mentally defective personalities. They were lucky to be born with the nerve of self-doubt missing.
Trump is not a loner like Fischer, his is a colourful personality, he has a large family. Fischer retired at 30, and Trump is assuming office at 70. Trump calls himself a master dealmaker and Fischer initially got whatever he wanted by his willingness to self-destruct. Fischer never played any serious chess after winning the World crown, and went into oblivion. As a World champion, his narcissism and paranoia grew further, his demands became excessively unreasonable. His admirers were fed up. The title he could have kept for two decades was lost with no further play.
Donald Trump is in a far worse position. He needs to handle not pieces on the board, but real people and countries. Would President Trump also become more narcissistic, and disappear before finishing his term?
While it will be hugely entertaining to see Trump in power for four years, my prediction is a new US president will take charge much before the 2020 election. The Trump Reality Show cannot last for four years.