With the results of the 2018 mid-term elections in, the future of American politics is hopeful for some and apprehensive for others. The past few years marked a particularly heated time in American history, climaxing with Donald Trump's election into the presidential office. Maybe it was his Republican status, sexual harassment allegations, racist/ableist jibes, or another one of his faults that sparked outrage among the vast majority of the public. There was one key factor, however, that hit too close to home for me.
Donald Trump is a narcissist.
No, I don't just mean that he's full of himself, because he is, but that's only the surface of my accusation.
Narcissism is an epidemic sweeping our nation. It's an epidemic that has been allowed to grow because so many people misunderstand or belittle its influence. Most would associate it with the likes of the Kardashian-Jenners and selfie-crazed Instagrammers. This isn't wrong, but it's a thin layer of what this illness truly consists of. What I am referring to goes deeper than a natural tendency towards self-centeredness. We're dealing with a full-on mental disorder.
According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and fantasies of power and importance along with a need for admiration. Michael Maccoby of the Harvard Business Review notes that while narcissists make extraordinary, compelling, and charismatic leaders, the weaknesses within this personality type are close to endless. Narcissists are sensitive to criticism, attacking those who threaten their self-image. Narcissists also tend to be poor listeners, explaining their lack of empathy, and have an intense desire for competition. Of course this description does not fit the personality of every narcissist, but it does manifest primarily in people who hold a leadership role, be it in politics, business, religion, etc.
My family history is a series of consequences and division created from the choices made by selfish individuals. Growing up surrounded by narcissists (Christians, to make it worse) opened my eyes to a new world of manipulation and overwhelming hypocrisy. This exposure to the devastating effects of narcissism and toxic conservatism made the 2016 election uncomfortably personal for me.
I used to go to school with a narcissist. When this person spoke, the entire room went quiet to hear what they had to say. Everything was about them, and no matter the conversation they always managed to squeeze a few "I's" or "my's" in. This person knew how to make people feel good, knew exactly what to say to get someone to do things their way (which was often). It was as if they had the students and teachers under a spell and let me tell you: it was scary.
This person, however, did not like me at all. Thanks to the influence the mental disorder has on my family, I know a narcissist when I see one and I know what they want: attention. It's the one thing you never give them because it gives them power. This person noticed that I didn't give them attention so, in return, they ignored me and belittled me and made me feel small. A small price to pay for sanity.
To my conservative and liberal friends, I hope you are reading this knowing I have nothing but love in my heart for you. I believe it is your American duty to vote for political candidates who best represent your values. However, you also have a duty to humanity to elect candidates who respect and uphold the rights of every individual, no matter who they are or where they may come from. There were several policies Donald Trump claimed to support that aligned with my personal views but, had I been 18 in November 2016, Trump's complete and utter lack of respect for certain human beings would have told me all I needed to know: this is a man whose mind is in the wrong place. This is a man unfit for the title of President.
Perhaps it's not that simple to you. I politely disagree. Humans are good at complicating things, usually to avoid the overarching issue. At the end of it all, I believe a person's character should *ahem* trump everything else. I implore you all to deeply consider the people you trust with your vote. I don't care how well a politician represents your values. I don't care if they're the "lesser evil". The ends do not always justify the means. By listening to and entertaining the mindless babble that pours from the mouths of Donald Trump and Kanye West, we're enabling them. They talk to get people talking—about them. As the country begins switching gears for the 2020 election, let's move forward with this in mind. It's time we focused on politicians and influencers who are shaping our nation for the better because, believe it or not, they're out there. Retweet their words, share their stories, discuss their ideology.
Pay your attention to those who actually deserve it.