Anyone with personal experience with a malignant narcissist can easily recognize the formula. When reality says something the narcissist doesn’t like, it’s reality that’s got it wrong. When the facts of the matter don’t line up with the narcissist’s approval, the narcissist simply defines those facts out of existence. Or, in Donald Trump’s words, “If you count the legal votes, I win. If you count the illegal votes, Joe Biden wins.” Definition of a legal vote? A vote for Trump. Definition of an illegal vote? A vote for Biden.
It’s particularly disquieting for me. I’ve had the misfortune of enduring two narcissists in my life during two separate periods. So what Donald Trump has done, effectively, is define my vote out of existence. My vote cast in Pennsylvania, according to the president of the United States, is illegal. Why? Because it wasn’t for him. Yes, that’s what fascists do. Yes, that’s an absurd proclamation that is antithetical to America and what America stands for. But it’s also chillingly familiar for those of us who have endured this particularly gaslighting form of personal tyranny.
And that isn’t even the worst part. What is even worse is the narcissist is often surrounded by a bodyguard of co-conspirators who know them and support them. These co-conspirators (or codependents) usually support the narcissist because they don’t really know them well enough to see through them and they believe the fictional autobiography the narcissist has created.
So when Donald Trump says, “If you count the legal votes, I win. If you count the illegal votes, Joe Biden wins,” it comes straight out of the narcissist’s playbook. I could have written those lines for him. In a way, I already have. Numerous times in the pages of the Palmer Report I have said that when it comes down to losing the presidency, Donald Trump simply will not accept reality. He will call it Fake News, because that’s what he’s always done and because that’s what narcissists always do.
So when it comes to a showdown between the narcissist and his victims, the narcissist often scores a win with the help of their friends. Notice, for example, that the GOP legislatures in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan didn’t allow the counting of early votes until the polls closed. They did so because they knew that Election Day votes would favor Trump. They knew this would be so because, just as Trump told his followers not to wear masks, Trump also told his followers not to trust voting by mail. So Election Day voting was heavily slanted in Trump’s favor, and those votes were counted first, making it possible for Trump to claim victory before the bad news came in.
These are familiar gaslighting tactics that are used by narcissists all the time. When done on a grand scale by a malignant narcissist like Trump it can be particularly triggering. If narcissists were in charge of baseball games, for example, the game would stop the minute the narcissist’s team was a run ahead. But no matter how many tantrums Trump may throw, that’s not how Democracy works. In a Democracy, my vote isn’t Fake News, it’s my Constitutional voice. And every vote cast on or before Election Day deserves to be counted, no matter what Donald Trump says.
Just as it’s eerily reminiscent of troubling times to watch Trump at work, it gives me a profound sense of triumphal satisfaction to watch the system quietly pulling him down. In 75 or so days from now the monster of Pennsylvania Avenue will be gone. Even a malignant narcissist as powerful as the president of the United States can be defeated by Democracy. At noon on January 20, 2021, I want to see his face. That will be a day of personal catharsis for me, because it will be symbolic of the two narcissists I have endured, and the dismay etched on that face by the hand of justice will be glorious to see. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.