It was reported recently that Donald Trump has professional sycophants. When he’s playing golf they follow him around and quote articles, tweets and posts in praise of Trump. Praise is oxygen to Trump. He needs a steady supply just to get through the day.
It’s why everything is about him. No matter how awful or wonderful the circumstance for someone else, when Donald Trump steps to the podium his words inevitably turn to himself and how great he is. On September 11, 2001, when he was interviewed live he couldn’t help bragging that, now that the twin towers had fallen, his building at forty Wall Street had suddenly become the tallest in lower Manhattan. Everything, and I do mean everything, is all about him 100% of the time.
Prior to the 2020 election, many pundits said we needed to win big in order to convince Trump that he’d lost. Even Hillary Clinton said as much. I respectfully disagreed. No loss of any size would convince Donald Trump of anything. He would continue to insist the election was rigged even if he’d lost by seventy million votes, let alone seven million votes. I knew that not because of any special powers of prognostication I may have but because I know narcissists and how they think. I had the misfortune of having two of them prominently in my life, each for very long times and at two different times.
It is because of this I can tell you there will never be a moment of clarity for Trump. He will never admit that he ever did anything wrong no matter how compelling the evidence, no matter how many people come forward as witnesses against him, no matter how grave the consequences of his action or how many years he’s sentenced to prison, should it come to that. If you’re waiting for the day when Trump stands up and admits he was wrong then I’m afraid you’re going to have a long wait. It just isn’t going to happen. Not ever.
In fact, most of the trouble he’s in right now is because of his narcissism. The January 6 insurrection happened because he could not believe he’d lost the election. A lot of people say that Trump knows deep down he lost. I dispute that. He really believes he won not because of any special evidence he has but because, for a narcissist, reality is always structured around them. It simply was not possible for him to lose because his ego cannot accept loss, let alone admit it.
His legal problems are also a direct result of his narcissism. He really believes that money is supposed to come his way in huge quantities no matter what the rules or reality have to say about it. If someone else is enriched it’s bad. Only he is supposed to be enriched. So when the rules say his wealth is commensurate with the size of his apartment, he lies and says his apartment is 30,000 square feet when it’s only 10,000 square feet. This is not a lie he will ever admit to, not even to himself, not even if someone walks him through the penthouse with a tape measure at Trump Tower and proves it to him. There exists no set of circumstances sufficient to convince Donald Trump that he was ever wrong about anything. In his mind he is perfect. In his mind he is God.
Unfortunately, many people and many entities will continue to support him. That is the most infuriating part of dealing with narcissists. It’s not the narcissist himself or herself that’s the biggest problem. It’s their fan club. If you could lock the narcissist in a rubber room and throw away the key that might make for a sufficiently satisfying conclusion. But it’s the people, the ones who insist that you’re the one who is wrong, that you’re the bad guy in all this, that drive you crazy. They are the most infuriating instruments of the narcissist’s gaslighting. They rally around the narcissist and insist he’s okay or she’s okay because they don’t have to live with them. They don’t have to deal with them every single crazy-making, infuriating day of the damned week.
That’s why Donald Trump’s biggest fans are people who don’t really know him. The longer you spend with a narcissist the more you ultimately hate him. Trump consumes everyone within easy reach. Many of the people who claim to love him secretly hate his guts. But they are trapped, and sustaining the lie is, for them, the path of least resistance.
So know this, brothers and sisters, justice is coming for Donald Trump. His ego cannot make a jail sentence or an economic penalty or all the losses he is about to incur go away. But he will never admit he was wrong. If that’s an important part of your sense of justice, I regret to inform you it’s not going to happen. His fan club will get smaller, and Trump will become much weaker, but there are no final victories in that sense. We will have to bring justice to Trump and his kind and be satisfied with that alone, because contrition on his part and on the part of most of his most rabid fans simply isn’t in the cards. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.