The British novelist Jeffrey Archer spent some time in prison. He notes from experience that there are two kinds of incarcerated criminals. There’s the ordinary person who made a single, stupid mistake, and the career criminal.
I think there are also two kinds of career criminals. The kind that know they are doing wrong and have a certain sense of embarrassed moral regret about it, and the kind that are entitled and angry — even murderously so — when a prospective victim thwarts that criminal from stealing from them or doing them harm. Donald Trump is the latter kind. Trump becomes remorselessly vindictive when anyone objects to his crimes or thwarts or exposes him when he’s committing those crimes. Trump isn’t just a criminal, he’s the worst kind of criminal. Trump thinks he’s entitled to his crimes and we should praise him while he commits them and endure them while he harms and destroys all of us.
This is the true depth of Donald Trump’s darkness: his unlimited ego, his undiluted envy, and his absolute belief — without cognitive dissonance — in his right to do unto others what he would self-righteously condemn if those very same things were done unto him. This, in short, is the life of the malignant narcissist who also happens to be a criminal who also happens to be president of the United States.
It is important to understand that not all narcissists are criminals. In fact, some of them use the law as a kind of self-righteous cudgel with which to beat other people, to prove that they are morally superior to them.
Unfortunately, malignant narcissists who are also criminals often do the same thing. The difference is, of course, in the hypocrisy. Malignant narcissists who are also law-breakers — like Donald Trump — see no inconsistency with believing that they should be allowed to break the law with impunity while at the same time accusing innocent people of breaking those very same laws.
Such people would be easy to spot and safely isolate were it not for the single most dangerously problematic thing about the criminal narcissist. They are often surrounded by a network of codependents and sycophants, and that network can be as large as a crowd of MAGA-hatted lickspittles and as powerful as the United States Senate. That network can, in fact, be as large as a third of the population of the United States of America.
It is out of the depth of the well of this human depravity that crawls a man like Trump who can say with a straight face that the current pandemic is over. Meanwhile America has just passed nine million cases and 235,000 deaths, and coronavirus is surging alarmingly in 47 out of 50 states, and another thousand Americans have gone to the great beyond since last I visited with you, brothers and sisters.
But because Trump has surrounded himself with the largest collection of feral subhumans ever to gather at the White House at a single time, his crimes continue to be laundered and sanitized by these water-carrying, codependent, glassy-eyed flunkies. And the lies they tell in defense of Trump are readily — even eagerly — still swallowed whole, untasted and lizard-like, by millions of Trump supporters from one end of America to the other.
We live in a world of celebrity cultism, fifteen minutes of fame so potentially toxic that Andy Warhol would barely recognize it today. Not only are celebrities worshipped, they are imitated — including their flaws. With a man like Trump, composed of nothing but flaws, this presents a very big problem. Not only do his toxic base of supporters worship him, many of them also imitate him.
While Donald Trump continues to embrace division, bigotry and the generic ugliness that continues to tear America apart, Joe Biden works to make his message of unity, healing and progress known. Because of the damage Donald Trump has done to the credibility of the news and the knowability of the simple truth, that message sometimes gets lost. Even so, we Americans who believe in the rule of law and the power of truth are still the majority. But that majority does us no good if we don’t stand up, speak out, and above all, vote.
So remember to turn your clocks back one hour on Sunday, and turn America forward four years on Tuesday. They call us snowflakes, let’s show them an avalanche. 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.