Donald Trump Isn’t Stupid

by stephenpalmersf

Seems like a crazy statement, doesn’t it? If you look at the proliferation of memes on Facebook for example, Donald Trump is stupid. He’s very stupid. That everybody seems to agree on.

But is he? Is there in fact a more accurate description of what he suffers from, and would it be better if we spread that kind of meme? And, if so, why would that matter?

Among the symptoms of narcissism – that in Trump are malignant, where in most others they are benign – are an obsession with and a drive for power, an inability to accept criticism, an inability to see “other” people and cultures from their particular perspective, with a consequent leaning to racism, misogyny in men, prejudice, etc – and a notable lack of empathy, an inability to be sensitive or compassionate, and a tendency to black-and-white, ie infantile or juvenile thinking. Narcissistic people commonly believe in Destiny or Fate too, and often are unusually superstitious. Most of these symptoms Trump, like other “leaders” who suffered from his extreme form of the narcissistic condition such as Napoleon and Thatcher, shows in profusion.

It is important to realise however that Trump’s condition is not something that developed out of nothing during his lifetime. It is not something that he created, or even aimed for. Rather, the intense narcissism we see in him is that of the child, which in this 70 year old man has never been overcome through normal experience of life. There are likely many reasons for this, but the quality of his parenting must come very high on that list of reasons, if not at the summit. Trump’s outlook on the world is most similar to that of the small boy.

Trump is in fact more than averagely intelligent, in that he is able to manipulate the conditions of his life to his own advantage. Stupid people don’t do that because they can’t. Trump has got to the position he has because he is more than averagely intelligent, commercially and politically.

Stupidity is not narcissism. Narcissism is a far deeper condition than mere ignorance or lack of education. What Trump has done is succeed in a social power hierarchy devised by boys for the use of boys – ie politics – all to his own advantage. It is narcissism which is fuelling his particular brand of behaviour, not stupidity.

You may be thinking, so what? Why does this distinction matter?

Well, it really does matter. If we liberals and lefties are going to make social change so that disaster areas such as Trump, Johnson, Bolsinaro et al do not get their hands on political power, we’re going to have to understand the problem. No human problems have ever been solved by not understanding them. Spreading “Donald Trump Is Stupid” memes across Facebook, for all their occasional hilarity, obscures the problem, stops people considering reality, and obstructs the social development of the human race. These sorts of Facebook memes are setting us back. They are a self-destructive fantasy.

Understanding matters.