By Halina Brunning and Olya Khaleelee
From the very start, Donald Trump has been acting in a way not expected of someone in the role of President, yet his popularity amongst certain sections of the population is not dwindling. After two years in the highest office Trump continues to be predictably unpredictable.
The midterm elections to the US Senate and the House of Representatives have left many people, and this includes the commentariat, utterly puzzled by his undiminished powers. What puzzles many is, among Trump’s various traits, his ability to twist the ‘truth’ to his own agenda, which some would say perverts the truth into fake news, which is what he then projects onto the media. There is always an element of truth in such accusations as the media are hardly neutral in their reportage of ‘facts’ nor in their attacks on him. But journalists and commentators cannot understand why, instead of rebuttal and disbelief, this ongoing attack on their truth seems to lead to an increase in Trump’s followership rather than to his downfall.
Clearly at one level, Trump does what no other person in the political sphere does. To unlock this conundrum we cannot rely upon the evidence-based logic alone. Instead perhaps, we should look to psychoanalytic thinking and to consider the concept of the Omnipotent, Demanding, Abandoned and Enraged Baby.
Our hypothesis is that Trump, in symbolising this demanding sometimes enraged omnipotent Baby aspect, is appealing to developmentally immature elements locked within each human being. By saying so, we are not referring to him as an embodied person but to what he personifies within the body politic.
Trump’s countless rallies demonstrate how the embodiment of this enraged hungry fury delights his supporters who feel that he is on their side. Perhaps they have good reasons to identify with these omnipotent /hungry/ unsatisfied ‘baby’ aspects because they feel powerless, hungry, forgotten and dissatisfied? Trump’s supporters may wish that they should also be allowed to voice their own reality, to have access to magical wishful thinking and be able to speak out and be heard and thus change their lives. Part of Trump’s appeal is that he is neither politically correct nor diplomatic, he actually states what people think but don’t dare say and the Voiceless love him for it and believe in him. He also does try to fulfil his election promises even though he may not get very far but the dispossessed may see him as a saviour who is prepared to fight (trade war) on their behalf to ‘make America great again’.
Lurking beneath and stirred up continually by this symbol of Chief Enraged Baby is also the threat of punishing others and wreaking revenge for being ignored and left hungry for recognition and care. Thus a volatile and polarised environment has been created in the US which is brewing but has not yet exploded.
Against this backcloth created by a complex mix of circumstances, Trump almost becomes imbued with the magical powers that every baby possesses at some stage of its development which it uses to manage and manipulate its immediate environment for the service of its own survival. In the same way Trump uses it for the service of his own power base, massing his supporters and ensuring that potential opponents feel intimidated enough not to cross him.
Demographics support the notion that those who voted Trump in 2016 were indeed the forgotten, voiceless and the ignored, left behind parts of the population hoping that Trump will change their lives, as if by magic. He represents Basic Assumption Hope for them, paradoxically even more than Barack Obama, the self-proclaimed Hope President did for the dispossessed demographics in the 2008 and 2012 US.
At least on the surface Trump behaves as if he wishes to improve their lot and to bring jobs and more security to the dispossessed. How realistic and how genuine it is, we are in no position to judge. We do know that we are all potentially capable of mobilising these enraged demanding baby aspects of ourselves under particular circumstances. But some, especially those who are better educated, less unfortunate, not entirely forgotten nor ignored by the previous regimes, are perhaps more capable of relying on rational thinking and more resistant to the emotive allure of this primitive pull.
Tragically, history shows that we are all potentially capable of being mobilised towards primitive enraged and attacking behaviour either as perpetrators or as victims.
Serious unrest could arise in the USA if towards the end of his term Trump would not have achieved any significant improvement in the well being of his own supporters despite some of his more famous efforts. Some commentators predict that this will be an inevitable outcome.
If so, the chief “enraged baby” would thus create an army of “enraged babies” whose real fury would become boundless. On the other hand, he could win a second term…