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Trump’s Alternative

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

It seems as if President Donald Trump is trying to sabotage the November election by publicly proposing postponing it and denigrating the untouchable democratic mainstay by repeatedly and forcefully arguing that it will be rigged.

That’s his way of preparing his hyper narcissistic self for what could be a huge loss. After all, he recently whined, “Nobody likes me.” Certainly tens of millions don’t.

“This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history,” Trump tweeted Friday. I thought that happened in 2016.

He’s his own worst enemy because of his offhanded dismissal of the coronavirus that causes CV19 as not his responsibility though it’s killed 153,000 Americans and infected 4.5 million others; his dispatch of a virtual private army to attack civilians demonstrating peacefully against police brutality toward minorities; his ignoring a shattered economy in which more than 44.2 Americans have filed jobless claims; his attempts to undermine faith in democracy by repeatedly claiming the election will be rigged so he will have something to blame if he loses; and his determination to deny money to the U.S. Postal Service to make mail-in voting more difficult. Republicans wind up losing in mail balloting, he has said.

Voting by mail would mean an election that would be “INACCURATE AND FRAUDULENT,” Trump has tweeted.

“The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change you have in a democratic society,” the late civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis wrote on his deathbed for an article that appeared in The New York Times. “You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”

That’s precisely what Trump is trying to make happen.

Of course, he has an alternative, with polls and political analysts saying he will lose badly against Joe Biden: Resign and let Mike Pence run for president.

Do narcissists quit their jobs if they believe they will be fired and don’t want to face humiliation? Or are narcissists immune to humiliation?

It’s difficult to answer that question, but Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D, gave some insights into a narcissist’s “secret fears” in Psychology Today Nov. 18, 2018:

“Narcissists are unable to tolerate failure of any sort and public humiliation is considered the worst type of failure that could happen. A narcissist’s ego is an extremely fragile thing and when she feels she is being laughed at or is losing the respect of others, it can be tremendously upsetting. The narcissist’s ego is the only protection they have from the world and when their ego integrity is breached, narcissists often respond in ways that seem markedly out of proportion to the circumstances for average people.”

That would fit with Trump’s out-of-the blue suggestion that the election should be postponed. Wouldn’t shutting down democracy, the very essence of our being as a country, be way out of proportion? Congress fixed Election Day in 1845 as the second Tuesday after the first Monday. Inauguration Jan. 20 is set in the Constitution.

If Trump thinks he is a legend in his own mind, there are those who believe otherwise. They are working hard to prove that someone who is president and incorporates such a mindset, coupled with ignorance and incompetence, is a danger to the country, its values and, significantly, its democracy.

One of those is my friend in Santa Fe, N.M, Robert Morgart, 76, a former assistant professor at four universities, including currently as an adjunct professor at New Mexico Highlands University. He also was a onetime financial adviser at Merrill Lynch. He doesn’t give Trump high marks. I asked him his reaction to Trump trying to derail the election or prevent voting by mail.

“We have to start with a first premise: that he is both congenitally and willfully ignorant,” he replied. “And second, his default mode has always been to criminality and lying. So I will put this in Management 101 terms: There’s a whole Milky Way of examples of bad management out there but, in that galaxy, the bright shining star of dysfunction and malignancy is Donald Trump.”

In the political universe of Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Project, led by three anti-Trump Republicans, is no fan of Trump and wants him out.

“Trump is a narcissist and he cannot help but react to threats to his delicate psyche,” George Conway, the husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, told The Washington Post recently. The Lincoln Project airs ads aiming directly at Trump’s psychological weaknesses in hopes of driving him mad and defeating his reelection bid. “He is a very sensitive, weak human being who cannot take criticism.”

“You can’t take your foot off the gas, but he’s going to lose and he’s going to lose big,” Conway said. “The reason why I’m confident of that is not because of the polls, but because of his essential nature, his self-destructive nature. He doesn’t know how to handle the current situation. He can’t lie his way out of it anymore. And if we keep the pressure on, keep doing what we’re doing, he’s going to dig himself deeper.”

Resigning could be Trump’s easiest way out of the mess he has created.

After all, President Richard M. Nixon, shattered by Watergate and beset for years by anti-Vietnam war demonstrators, resigned Aug. 9, 1974, rather than face impeachment, though he was more prone to depression than narcissism. Studies note that many presidents had narcissistic streaks, but Trump gets first place  prize. That should make him happy, though he’s often pictured as scowling.

Nixon also lied, of course, but not on the Trump scale the Post counts as more than 20,000 times. We all tell white lies – maybe not so many as 20,000 even in a lifetime – but Trump’s are black because of the power he holds as president that can cause harm.

Richard C. Gross, a career journalist at home and abroad, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.

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