August 9, 2015

What If Donald Trump is Neither Sexist Nor Racist?

English: This photo depicts Donald Trump's sta...
This photo depicts Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some may choose to interpret what I am about to write as a defense of Donald Trump or as me trying to make excuses for some of his recent comments. You are perfectly free to misread it that way if you are so inclined, but I suspect that what I'm about to write is more of an indictment than a defense. The degree to which you agree with this may depend on whether you are convinced that sexism and racism are the worst attributes someone can possibly have or whether there are others that might be even worse.

Donald Trump may well be a sexist, racist, and every other label the politically correct left would like to slap on him. He has said many things that were offensive to many people. That much is undeniable. Still, I can't help wondering if it is possible that Trump is something else, something much broader, more important, and far worse than any of these labels can communicate. Specifically, I wonder if it is possible that Trump is, at root, a narcissistic asshole. If so, we may need to reconsider whether "sexist" and "racist" are applicable here.

When we call someone a sexist, we generally mean that they value their own sex over others and treat people poorly based on their sex. Some of the comments Trump has made sound sexist. When we call someone a racist, we generally mean that they value their own race over others and treat people poorly based on their race. Some of the comments Trump has made sound racist.

But if Trump is fundamentally a narcissistic asshole, he may be neither sexist nor racist. How so? Why can't he be all of the above? What I am suggesting is that Trump may be a rare sort of equal opportunity offender. If so, this would seem to invalidate the sexist and racist labels.

Suppose that Trump believes he is better than almost everyone. He's not just better than Megyn Kelly, Rosie O'Donnell, female journalists, or even women in general; he's better than everyone regardless of their gender. He's not just better than "illegal" immigrants or those he considers to be Mexican regardless of which South American country they come from; he's better than everyone regardless of their race. Trump is a winner surrounded by losers. And when these losers dare to challenge him, he hits back with whatever presents itself. He doesn't stop and think about the impact of his words or how they will be perceived; he doesn't think he should have to. He's a winner, remember.

To those who want to read this as a defense of Trump, let me be clear in stating the following: If I am right about this, I believe that it makes Trump far less suited to hold political office than sexism, racism, or whatever else. Why? Because this sort of narcissistic asshole constellation is so much broader, affecting practically every aspect of his judgment and behavior. A man who operates like this cannot reasonably be expected to govern effectively.

Trump is a fascinating spectacle, and he single-handedly made the first Republican debate worth watching. He deserves all the media attention he has been receiving and more. He's not a serious political candidate, but he's damn entertaining and has some real appeal. And while he has said a few things with which I agree, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he's unfit for public office. I hope he stays in the race as long as possible and then runs as an Independent. He won't win, but he will bring some needed attention to the political process.

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