April 20, 2017 by John Crapper
The election of Donald Trump. I still say holy shit at this fact. I’m still processing and trying to come to terms with what happened during our last presidential election.. I’ve been swaying from one focus to another with the blame game and the same is true with my thinking on the most constructive path forward.
One thing that’s important for me to keep in the forefront of my thinking is man’s psychological nature. It speaks volumes about why people are motivated to act the way they act.
1. the qualities common to humanity
2. ordinary human behaviour, esp considered as less than perfect
3. (Sociology) Sociol the unique elements that form a basic part of human life and distinguish it from other animal life
John Locke said that people were reasonable by birth and Thomas Hobbs said they were violent and disorderly. Since neither is correct, we must sit on the fence with one foot on both sides and come to our own conclusion.
So below are my thoughts as points to consider as to why the United States saw fit to elect Donald Trump President of the United States and the role our human nature might have played in that election.
First off, although we hear the opposite all the time preached from the pulpits of our churches and pontificated from the politicians we elect, I do not think humans are peace loving by nature. I think a much stronger argument can be made for the opposite being true. Just look at our own country’s history with war.
When I was a kid, my earliest play memories were those of playing war games. I can remember playing endlessly with the plastic miniature army sets strategically laid out on the ping pong table. My brothers and I had these cool rocket launchers we used to shoot each other’s soldiers.
Kids today gravitate to the warring and fighting video games. Violence is always a top draw at the box office. Nothing like a good murder or violent thriller to entertain. War and war heroes are glamorized in print and movies. Military service is a cherished badge of honor. Witness the popularity of football and boxing, both violent sports. When I’m really honest with myself, I come to the conclusion that humans are really violence loving and not peace loving at all. Trump appealed to this inner desire in all of us to “kick some ass” and “play war”.
Second, humans are pleasure seekers. We want to have a good time. We try to avoid pain. We try to avoid discomfort. We like to play games and have fun. We seek to do things the easy way. We strive for convenience. Trump appealed to that bigly in his slogan “Make America Great Again.”
Third, humans are competitive. We love to win and we hate to lose. We compete in love and war. We compete in sports and games. We compete for the best jobs, best homes and best cars. We compete for status, wealth, influence and power. We compete for food, shelter and clothing. We compete for all the resources used in our economies. The most successful type of economy in the world is based on competition. Trump appealed to this aspect of our nature with his “negotiate better deals” message.
Fourth, humans are self-preserving. We try to prolong life and forestall death. Trump appealed to that with his “Make America Safe Again.”
Fifth, humans inflate our importance and standing in the world in which we live. Trump embodies this trait and people (through osmosis I think) felt pumped up too. (Opposite of the Jimmy Carter malaise speech of long ago.)
Sixth, humans think we can control nature and bend it to our will. We believe our intelligence and technological knowhow will overcome our environmental problems. We fool ourselves into thinking we are the driver of nature’s bus. We think we can win. Trump again appealed here in his climate change is a hoax, get the chains of environmental regulation off of business message.
Seventh, humans tend to mentally deny their animal nature. Tump — We’re great , America first. American exceptionalism.
Eighth, each one of us innately believes we are unique and special. Most of us, therefore, feel the need to have our own prodigy to carry on that unique specialness. (See number 7)
Ninth, humans are tribal. We tend to classify into categories of “us” and “them”. If you are like “us” you are OK but if you are like “them” be suspicious. The “them” becomes the dangerous ones, the untouchables, and the enemies. The “us” becomes the friends, countrymen, allies, and chosen people. Catering to this part of our psychological makeup was most blatantly manifested in Trump’s appeal to the alt-right.
Tenth, humans are possessive. We like to own, have and possess. We like to call things ours. We like to have our own space; our own privacy. Taking this trait to the extreme many people become extremely greedy which is the unquenchable desire to possess and acquire. Trump’s messages of American exceptionalism. Build the wall — This is our country and Let’s take back our country all stroked this trait within us.
Each one of these points are debatable and the list is not complete by any means. But I find it helps me to go deeper within myself and examine when trying to make sense of the crazy fact of the election of Trump.