Donald Trump recently refused to say that he would back the next GOP candidate for president if he misses out on the nomination. “It would depend,” Trump said, adding, “It would have to depend on who the nominee was.”
Delving into my considerable well of personal experience from living with malignant narcissists, I think I can answer that question without looking. The answer is Trump wouldn’t support anyone. Not Ron DeSantis, not Nikki Haley, not Ted Cruz, and certainly not Mike Pompeo. In fact, Trump would view a run by Pompeo as a personal betrayal, because he used to be Trump’s Secretary of State.
In fact, for a narcissist it must have been quite an exercise in willpower for Trump to acknowledge that the candidate would be anyone other than himself. He must have been in a rare frame of mind to even moot the possibility.
Trump still regards himself as the greatest president who ever lived, and believes he’s still popular with the majority of the American people. So for the American people to pick anyone else as a candidate would also represent a betrayal. And should he be picked as the Republican nominee and lose it would prove once again that the election was stolen.
In short, Trump sees himself as a martyr who selflessly gave his life for the betterment of America. He lost everything in his selfless service to his country. In exchange for his service he’s under innumerable potential criminal indictments and lawsuits. Therefore, in the narcissistic mind of martyrTrump, once again no good deed goes unpunished. And he is the history’s greatest victim of that sad aphorism.
If, as part of your hope that 2023 turns out to be the year of justice, you expect to see contrition, regret or an admission of guilt from Donald Trump, I must disappoint your expectation, brothers and sisters. That will never happen. Narcissists aren’t like us. Confession is never good for their souls. They are beyond the redemption of self-reflective candour. They are unreachable.
Trump may be indicted this year and he may even go to prison before Christmas (though I doubt it will happen that soon), but he will never admit he ever did anything wrong. And neither will many of his slavish followers. Narcissists and their devotees have a peculiarly dependable consistency. Donald Trump’s constant harping on the big lie of the 2020 “stolen” election will never end, unless or until it’s been replaced by some larger “injustice,” such as another election loss or a criminal conviction. I’m counting on the latter. 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.