Sometimes I want to get away with saying outrageous, offensive things like, sure I want a wall, a bigger one than Donald Trump wants to build. But I want it along the Mason-Dixon line. OK, it doesn’t have to be exactly on that border, but certainly a huge wall at least separating Texas. And I love Texans, I just want a giant wall separating them—and of course, they’ll pay for it!
I’m also sick and tired of being so politically correct, especially in our universities. Why should they subject our students to “all gender bathrooms” when “all species bathrooms” would certainly be much more democratic? As a matter of fact, they should really be “all intergalactic species bathrooms,” because you never know. And obviously, I’d make them pay for that too.
And on the subject of aliens who want to defecate on our land, I don’t know about internment camps, but we should definitely demand that all bearded hipsters from Williamsburg at least be required to register with Homeland Security… and maybe, just maybe create internment camps for picklers. And I love pickles. Some of my best friends are pickles. I’m just saying, until we figure out for sure the health benefits of fermentation, they should be locked up. OK, I said it. That feels good.
In civilized company we restrain our worst thoughts, we censor those often incorrect impulses from our reptilian, fear-conditioned mind. We just don’t lash out like an asocial dog. This is what separates good humans from lower biological forms.
The Id: Trump’s Bully Pulpit
Who doesn’t, at times, want to let it all go, just kind of crap in your own pants? Is this more of a guy thing? This desire to let it all hang out? Don’t brush your teeth or shower, just slip on the ol’ kilt sans underwear. Go Braveheart for a day or two. And what about the impulse to do and say whatever the hell you want and not care—and not care who you offend? Is this some perverted, distorted imagining of the lone cowboy, the master-less samurai, the cool, tough outsider? Or is it really closer to an incipient Columbine trench-coat maniac? Why would I even want to tap into anything even remotely close to this? Read on…
An increasing amount of scientific evidence supports the theory that genetic information influences whether a child becomes a bully or a victim of bullying. Since it is quite clear which of those two categories Trump falls in, why would I or anyone want to be like that? Because, to some degree, we’ve never left high school! The allure to belong to the in-crowd among the mean girls and cool guys is also hardwired in our brains as well as our genetic makeup. Don’t believe it? Hell, there is already fairly conclusive scientific evidence that genetics determine if you like cilantro, so how far off is that from genetic predispositions for liking most anything?
But genetics aside, our desire to be bountiful, wealthy, attractive and so on is simply our basic survival instinct kicking in—and that doesn’t mean we’re twisted to want those things and/or even ambitiously pursue them. But there’s a big difference between wanting to be a “mean girl” and actually being one. One is fantasy and one is being cruel. In the movie Mean Girls, we delighted in seeing Regina George get plowed down by that car. It was satisfying because it felt as though karmic justice had been meted.
And even though science is beginning to find genetic evidence for our sense of justice, Lindsay Lohan and her outsider friends had not been overtly wishing for Regina’s demise and they didn’t gloat at her misfortune—the way Trump does, calling everyone that disagrees with him “losers.” In civilized company we restrain our worst thoughts, we censor those often incorrect impulses from our reptilian, fear-conditioned mind. We just don’t lash out like an asocial dog. This is what separates good humans from lower biological forms.
Trump, however, shouts negativity, screams out whatever comes into his mind. He’s enviably fast and nimble on his feet, like a hyena. He verbally counter-punches as good as any schoolyard bully ever did. He and the other bullies among us immediately, nearly instinctively, attack our weakest points: our vanity, our hair, our weight, our complexion. They know how to push our buttons and they seem beyond delighted to do so.
The Ego: It’s Not Trump, It’s Me?
OK, I admit it, this is my damn issue—I’m too damn sensitive. I actually do care if I offend, hurt, belittle, or disempower another person. “Oh what a loser,” I’m sure Trump would say to me—and his demented chorus would hoot in approval.
And who doesn’t want approval? My inner Trump wants it, but the real Trumpster craves it. In the late nineties, before The Apprentice, a friend interviewed Trump for a major English newspaper. “What was that like?” I asked the next day, mildly interested and knowing him then mostly as just another ostentatious, crass New York self-promoter in a boxy suit. “I could hardly interview him, all he wanted to talk about was what the English thought of him!” she replied. I remembered that because that is the take-away: the pathos of some seemingly successful businessman who’s obsessed by how he’s perceived.
I find this incessant need to be liked unseemly in a man or a woman, but certainly in a man who acts confident, it is especially telling. Real confidence doesn’t obsess over “likes” like some Kardashian wannabe. But Trump did and still does. And so does my own inner Trump, and I’m not overjoyed about that—even if it’s in me genetically or neurologically, I can still choose not to go there, not to indulge it. I can still overcome my habit of checking my Facebook likes.
And if I can’t I’m likely suffering from something that the DSM-V would term Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The National Institute of Health describes this as “a condition in which people have an excessive sense of self-importance, an extreme preoccupation with themselves, and a lack of empathy for others.” Sound familiar? Ever notice how in nearly every interview the Trumpster quotes various polls confirming his “likability”? The dude can’t help it, he has issues!
And who doesn’t? Again, even though I don’t want this condition or wish it on anyone, many of us share aspects of it—which doesn’t mean we have to give in to that kind of obsessive narcissism. And it’s the same for not giving in to the desire to let ourselves go. Wouldn’t you hate it if your dad just gave into his worst instincts, stopped showering and skipped work and didn’t care what you thought about it? Man oh man, you’ve got to fight it.
When I find myself tending toward my inner Trump, it’s not a good thing, however human it might feel. There are a lot of human things that are not good things.
The Super-Ego: Resisting Trump-like Urges
Excessive Narcissism, lack of empathy and being insensitive to others under the guise of not wanting to be “politically correct” is simply off-putting. It is unattractive to women and they sense it in a man a mile away. It’s a big turnoff.
“But Trump and guys like him are always with babes!” your puny-self cries out in confusion. Dude, when a guy gives an ostentatious present to a woman like she’s a mobster’s moll, like a mink stole or a gigantic diamond the size of an avocado, he’s not doing it for the woman, he’s doing it for himself. It screams, “Look at me! Look at what I’m worth!” It’s not a gift, it’s a transaction.
Real generosity is from your heart to another heart. It requires openness and therefore vulnerability. If you really put yourself out there, then there are stakes involved; you’ve sacrificed security for the unpredictable outcome of real connection, affection, love. If you’re worth a billion dollars and you spend a hundred thousand for a gift, that’s the equivalent of a regular person dropping two bucks—zero risk. And I’m not suggesting that the amount that you spend determines your commitment or risk. I’m simply saying that aspiring to be rich like Trump in order to be with babes is an empty, lonely and sad aspiration.
We might argue about what qualities constitute a true gentleman, but surely bullying, insensitivity and insisting you’re always right wouldn’t be on any list. What does continuously rise to the top of many surveys on the subject of “what is a gentleman”? Authentic generosity, i.e. generosity of spirit. Generosity of spirit is about giving of yourself, your attention, your time. It’s about being sensitive to others and empowering, not belittling.
When I find myself tending toward my inner Trump, it’s not a good thing, however human it might feel. There are a lot of human things that are not good things. And sure, Trump’s wife is attractive, if you like peasant attractiveness. Hey, I have nothing against peasants. Some of my best friends are peasants. See, sometimes, it is just impossible to control myself.
Learn more about author Loren-Paul Caplin here.