September 14, 2017

EMEM ELEMENT | Psyche and the Presidency

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There is something to be said about people-watching; something to be said about sitting in Olin Library staring out at the people playing Frisbee in the Arts Quad, or perhaps walking down Ho Plaza figuring out how to dodge the quarter card mania properly (NOT me though, I love all of your quarter cards… STAY #woke). From an outsider looking in it’s interesting to ponder, even for a millisecond, the thought processes that encapsulate another person’s mind. As humans, we love to analyze, we love to group, we love to categorize. It’s a basic human process that we do consistently—consciously, or even subconsciously. Through analyzation, the basis of our human psyche strives to delve into the psyche of others for clarity, confirmation, and/or understanding.

Our psyche can be said to comprise of an id, ego, and superego—terms coined by Sigmund Freud in his psychoanalytic personality theory. The ego, one’s rationale, controls the id’s impulsivity and sometimes irrational behavior. It is what keeps one “in tune with reality”; meanwhile, the superego moralizes situations in terms of what one deems as right or wrong. One’s ego is essential in mediating the id and the superego, keeping circumstances on a consistent state of affairs. Shout out to the ego for keeping us in line! Not all of us are in tune with this integral use of said ego—one such person being…Donald Trump.

I’ve been watching, analyzing, and striving to conceptualize the nine months that have elapsed in the Trump presidency. Every news update, every Twitter trend, every video or article trending online about the increasing polarization and distrust in the American government have led me to contemplate the internal processes within the psyche of Trump. It is no surprise that a country built on the backs of African people, the genocide of indigenous people, and the exploitation of People of Color and women would result in a presidency with a man like Trump. A man whose existence hangs on neoliberal pursuit and the persistence of socioeconomic inequality couldn’t care less about equity. I say this to point out that the current political climate in the United States of America is not new. Systems of white supremacy, unequal distributions of wealth, and patriarchy are characteristic of the foundation of America.  The Constitution of the United States was written for the convenience and safety of white men. To say, “This is not the America I know!” in response to the current political strife is unfounded. Institutionalized slavery ended 152 years ago. State and local laws requiring segregation of races ended 53 years ago. Fifty-three years ago.

On this basis of American history, the concerning nature of Trump’s presidency extends beyond his historical position within institutions of oppression and inegalitarianismDonald Trump’s disposition exceeds the boundaries of what we consider “normal”.  An internal psyche is reflected by the external behaviors of the President of the United Statesan internal psyche grounded in the ‘id’whose volatile nature bears some scrutiny.

When one acts solely on the basis of the id, they act on impulse. The id acts on instincts, directly and immediately. This “id” is very characteristic of a newborn child’s psyche, before they develop their ego and superego later in life. It may be comical to laugh and joke about Trump as president. In almost all of my government classes, Trump is a run-on joke—a joke that clearly is no longer comical. The fact that the President of the United States can be equated with having a psyche like a newborn child is concerning. Trump’s insistence on being ‘transparent,’ or ‘authentic,’ or ‘not your average politician’ is an excuse to spew bigotry and allow the id to take over his actions. Trump wants to build a wall because Mexicans are “rapists and thieves”. He wants to “Make America Great Again” by bringing America backwards to times of heightened inequality. He wants to get rid of DACA because he believes immigrants have no place in American society. He believes there are “very fine people” within the Neo-Nazi movement. How can this behavior be rationalized? Almost everything that he does serves as an immediate response to his fear and hatred of people that deviate from his interpretation of the “common man”—that being, white men. The reason why we as human beings have an ego is to rationalize and bring us back to the reality that we live in a diverse society, with diverse beliefs, perceptions, and attributes, and that because of this, we should be conscious of the needs and values others have—needs and values that may deviate from our own. Without mediation from our ego, the world would be ignited in flames. Rationalization is key for societies to run. Even more so, the ego is heavily needed in the office of the Presidency. Donald Trump is not the president for just those people whom his views align with—he is the president of the people of the United States of America. Every ethnicity, every race, every religion, every gender, every non-conforming individual, every human being in this country is under the Presidency of Donald Trump. His failure to address the needs of all people illustrates a demagogic motive, one based in his own personal beliefs and those who support him, not the interests of all citizens. The psyche of Trump relies on mere impulsivity. Mere emotional, personal, and self-concerning ideologies. One based far from democracy.

What is to be said about the psyche of Trump? A psyche that runs with no mediation from the ego? A psyche with no basis in rationality or care for minorities in America? A psyche that fails to understand the importance of democracy, diversity, and inclusion? A psyche embedded in the endeavors of white supremacy and patriarchy? A psyche that rejects all opposition, thus furthering political polarization between parties? A psyche that refuses to believe mainstream media, and declares it as “fake news”? A psyche that lacks the basic abilities of any rational human being—the ability to discern, critique, and evaluate before passing bigoted, outrageous, and white-male-centric policies? A psyche that acts on the basis of xenophobia, and is thus willing to lose billions of dollars in GDP from DREAMers just to rid America of immigrants?

Welcome to the id-based presidency of Donald Trump. Goo-goo-gaa-gaa.