Donald Trump and the power of sociopathy

Donald Trump is what I call a sociopath.

This not a psychiatric diagnosis, but an observation that he cares nothing for moral and ethical rules, for the law, for his pledged word, for objective facts or for the consequences of his actions to other people.

The power of a sociopath is that normal people have norms of behavior—at least to some extent—and don’t know how to deal with people who don’t recognize norms.

President Trump’s signature pledge during the 2016 presidential campaign was that he would solve the problem of unauthorized immigration by building a wall along the southern border, and make Mexico pay for it.

The cost of building a physical barrier along the entire 1,900-mile border with Mexico would be enormous.  The idea that Mexico can be compelled to pay for it is absurd.

Yet he is willing to close down the government and threaten to declare a national emergency in order to build a barrier along a relatively small portion of the border.  It is more important to him to win this symbolic victory than to have a functioning government.   He doesn’t really care whether the United States has a functioning government at all.

But the fact that establishment Washington politicians and journalists put up so little resistance to Trump shows how little these supposed norms have come to mean.

During the Bush and Obama administrations, the “norms” included invasions and proxy wars against countries that did not threaten us Americans, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, maybe a million all told, who never harmed us.  It meant prosecution of whistleblowers for telling the truth about abuse of governmental power.  It meant refusal to prosecute financial fraud and other crimes committed by members of the financial elite.

There is little that the Trump administration is doing, including governmental shutdowns, that does not have some sort of precedent.  What the Trump administration shows us is how acceptable sociopathy has become.


What Is a Government Shutdown? by Kimberly Amadeo for The Balance.

Government shutdown: the border wall fight explained by Dara Lind for Vox.

Biggest Effects of the Government Shutdown by Ryan Bort for Rolling Stone.

Here’s What’s Really Happening at the Border by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.

The Wall May Be a Waste, But It Is not a Crisis by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

Wall B.S. and the Politics of 2020 by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

Why Pelosi and Schumer Should Back Down Now by Joseph Cannon for Cannonfire.

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5 Responses to “Donald Trump and the power of sociopathy”

  1. whungerford Says:

    Trump’s acts, while many are not unprecedented, are extreme. However, I can’t recall open attacks on American minorities, rival politicians and foreigners by another President.


  2. David Gerould Markham Says:

    Phil you wrote “But the fact that establishment Washington politicians and journalists put up so little resistance to Trump shows how little these supposed norms have come to mean.”

    This is the key. Trump’s behavior and norm breaking has largely gone unchecked throughout his life. The problem for the nation is not Trump himself, but the people who support him and condone his behavior. Hitler did not kill 6 million people himself, and Trump could not do the damage he is doing alone. He has lots of help. His primary supporters in the congress have been Ryan, McConnell, Graham and several others. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out that the biggest threat to social justice is not the people who discriminate but those who stand by and do nothing while the discrimination is engaged in.

    The Blue Wave is a start, but much more has to be done to stop and undo the damage being done to our democracy and American values. We each have a part to play. And your essay is a good reminder that our silence and inactivity allow the damage to continue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fred Says:

    LOL! My diagnosis was that Trump has a dangerously unstable narcissistic personality disorder.


  4. Mel Zirnot Says:

    The reason Germans are helping China steal our IP is the Germans feel we stole THEIR IP.
    Oligarchs decimated patent protection for inventors and universities, labelling them as “trolls”
    (Mayo v. Prometheus, Alice v. CLS Bank, SAP v. InvestPic)
    Bayer had the aspirin trademark and its US assets seized during World War One, while Merck Sharp & Dohme
    was compulsorily split off from its Germany parent company at the same time.
    The Office of Alien Property Custodian was an office within the Government of the United States during both World Wars as a Custodian of property that belonged to US enemies. The office was created under the Trading with the Enemy Act 1917.


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