As many of you will recall, brothers and sisters, I have had the distinct misfortune of having to endure two malignant narcissists in the course of my private life. That experience gave me insights into Donald Trump that I could have just as soon done without. I wouldn’t wish a malignant narcissist on anyone, but it’s particularly awful when such a person is thrust on an entire nation for four years, as well you all know.
One insight my experience gave me is that Donald Trump would never — ever — publicly acknowledge he lost the election, no matter what. And so he hasn’t and won’t. Any loss will forever be “suspicious” because narcissists don’t ever lose. They have two sets of scales, one for themselves and one for everyone else. Their personal scales are heavily balanced in their favor.
None of this nonsense would work particularly well for the narcissist were it not for their network of codependents, enablers, sycophants, janissaries, lickspittles, yes-men and yes-women. The most successful narcissists surround themselves with such people. Narcissists are bafflingly popular with certain kinds of people, people who are born spear-carriers, second-stringers and water-bearers for just such nasty types. These are adoring fans who wonder to each other “What the hell is their problem?” when healthy people object to the narcissist’s antics. In other words, they also help out with a substantial portion of the gaslighting. Think Kellyanne Conway, Mike Pompeo, Kayleigh McEnany, Bill Barr … you get the idea.
Narcissists also possess a charm and a charisma that’s often completely counterintuitive to most of the rest of us. To me Trump has always been a hamfisted buffoon. I don’t get why not everybody else sees it. I don’t, for example, get why so many people are charmed by Hitler, either. Both Trump and Hitler — though outwardly quite different — are of a piece when it comes to my personal mechanism of instinctive loathing.
Most fans of narcissists are a “type” in themselves. I wonder if the DSM has a set of diagnostic criteria for them alone. One particularly virulent recent public malignant narcissist, serial rapist Bill Cosby, had a thoroughly disgusting fan base of misogynists and slut-shamers. When Cosby went to prison most of them, one by one, crawled back into the holes from which they had first emerged. I think that’s what’s going to happen with most of the MAGA-hat trolls.
Some small portion of those Trump supporters, however, may become domestic terrorists of the Timothy McVeigh ilk. I hope not. But the FBI would do well to keep an eye on such people. A lot of them are convinced that their dear leader was swindled in the election, and they may carry their murderous fury forward in some unpleasant and destructive ways.
Republican politicians will take similar roads. Their roads will be made unjustly more lofty by dint of their positions of power, but the anatomy of their slinking back will be functionally identical to that of the most cretinous, slouching, knuckle-dragging, low information Trump cretin to ever disgrace a Nuremberg-style Trump rally.
For some of them their support of Donald Trump will eventually be career-killers. There may have been a time, for example, when Susan Collins might have been a candidate for president of the United States, but those days are pretty much over. Too many people are “concerned” about where she stands on any issue to consider her a viable contender.
Others, like the more rabid Matt Gaetz, will probably be lifetime Trump supporters. Gaetz will forever consider Donald Trump the pinnacle of the presidency, and never be able to find another to whom he can attach himself with the same barnacle-like tenacity. He will become a hero-worshipper without a hero, an acolyte without a god. He will see Trump’s fall as a sign from heaven, leaving him no choice but to make a run for the presidency. Gaetz’s run will probably fail spectacularly. Narcissist worshippers seldom do well in the central role.
I can’t catalog the wake of failures, disappointments, malcontent and bloodthirsty hatred that will forever define the Trump presidency without reminding you of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are now dead because of this failed, one-term mediocrity. Trump’s legacy of death is the single most disgraceful part of his criminal antics, and will forever cast a pall of shame on this moribund institution, the Republican Party. 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.