"Pink Houses" (1983), 2016 Election, American Narcissism, Bankruptcy, Comb-Over, Donald Trump, FOX News Debate, Frank Sinatra, Hypocrisy, John Mellencamp, Losers, Misogyny, Narcissism, New York, New York" (1980), Racism, RNC Debate, The Donald, Trump Supporters, Winners, Xenophobia
“But they ain’t no big deal/’Cause the simple man, baby/Pays for thrills/The bills the pills that kill” – John Mellencamp, “Pink Houses” (1983).
Donald Trump’s entire campaign might as well be called “The Ultimate Narcissist Does The Pink Houses” Tour, complete with Def Leppard, his kids, and Omarosa going to bat for him on CNN. Trump and his angry band of supporters see the world in the simplest way, like an indoctrinated twelve-year-old forced to be part of a religious cult (I can definitely relate). Trump sees himself as a “winner,” the US as a country that used to be a “winner,” and anything or anyone who doesn’t fit his narrative as “losers.” Of course there’s a contradiction here. Trump doesn’t have the courage to call many of his supporters “losers,” though there are about four decades’ worth of his actions and statements that would serve as evidence of his thoughts about his base.
At the “Big Boys” RNC debate a couple of weeks ago, Trump couched everything in terms of “winners” and “losers.” President Obama was an “incompetent loser.” The US is “losing to China” economically. Mexican immigrants are turning the US into “a nation of losers.” The US has to “win” against ISIS (I prefer the term Islamic State or IS that most news agencies use outside the US, but that would make me a loser). Trump’s pronouncements at the debate and since have been about more than sound bites of “us” vs. “them,” as the more progressive media elements have said. It’s been about presenting himself as America’s winner, as the one at “the top of the heap, king of the hill, A-number-1.”
In a nation full of narcissists, this has a real appeal, even if the reality of Trump’s life contradicts both the winner image he portrays and the lives that most of his supporters actually live. The most obvious is Trump’s net worth being more like between $1.4 billion and $4 billion (Oprah Winfrey territory), and not the $10 billion he says it is. Or that he has — or, as Trump would say, “my companies” have — filed for Chapter 11 four times in the past quarter-century. Or his multiple divorces. Or his ridiculous comb-over in 20+mph winds.
I guess all of those falsities and setbacks should be more nuanced, as part of life’s long and bumpy journey. By Trump’s own definition, because his net worth — though envy-inducing — is hardly #1 (still between Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Michael Bloomberg), he should see himself as a loser. Because Trump has seen multiple business ventures crash and burn, the “loser” moniker could fit. Oh, but narcissism allows for those suffering from grandiose inflations of themselves to see their failings, their losses as mere bumps in the road, and not part of the “winners and losers” narrative.
The same goes for Trump’s supporters, most of whom couldn’t hope to be PTA president at their neighborhood elementary school, much less run for POTUS. The US is so replete with narcissism that it’s in the bloodstream of ordinary low-income Americans (the majority of the working population, by the way). And as such, their reasons for supporting Trump are as sad as they are predictable. They see him as a winner, even though he was born into wealth via his real estate magnate father (or as many New Yorkers saw him, slum lord), Fred Trump. The Donald was born halfway between third and home plate, and somehow ordinary Americans see him as a quintessential American?
Trump’s supporters also see him as someone who “tells it like it is.” Really? Ready to be fooled again, just like with so many numbskulls and wing-nuts who’ve sold Americans the magic of tax cuts for the rich and for corporations and endless prosperity in the past? Some of these narcissists are like gambling addicts, taking their last dollars to a slot machine on the hope of making it rich with crusty toenails. It both a real shame, and pitiful to watch.