Trump and Ego
About six years ago, during a time of particularly intense depression and emotional upheaval I read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now at the recommendation of Paul Gilmartin, who talks about it regularly on his wonderful podcast Mental Illness Happy Hour. It really spoke to the fraught emotional state I was in, in part because it is very accessible, and makes some rather complicated ideas pretty easy to understand.
I was particularly struck by its portrayal of the personal ego as the source of, if not all of civilization’s problems, then many of them. At the risk of simplifying things a bit, the book delineates between the spirit, which is good and kind and selfless, and the source of good in the world, and the personal ego, which is destructive and toxic and selfish and incapable of caring about anything other than itself.
Fortunately, and also unfortunately, I don’t really need to go into depth on the nature of the personal ego and its destructive capabilities because there is someone in our culture who embodies the psychic devastation of a mind controlled entirely by the ego to a horrifyingly pure extent. That man, you can probably infer, is Donald Trump.
Politicians usually feel obligated to at least pretend that they’re motivated by the spirit, that they got into politics to serve humanity in an altruistic fashion. Trump doesn’t even bother to pretend that he’s motivated by anything other than an enormous, toxic ego that, like all egos, can never be satisfied and can never be happy, because for the ego nothing is ever enough.
That’s why when Trump shocked the world with the biggest political upset of the last century, his enormous, brittle and toxic ego wouldn’t allow him to be happy for even a moment. The ego is never happy, and Donald Trump is pure ego. So instead of being grateful and living in the moment during what should have been the greatest moment of his life, he was instead obsessing about things that did not matter.
The ego is incapable of living in the moment, so President Ego could not enjoy being elected the 45th President. Instead, his mind was focussed on the past and the future. He was obsessed with how history would perceive him, which explains his bizarre obsession with wildly inflating the cozy little crowds at his inauguration, and he was obsessed with the recent past to the point where could not accept that he won the electoral vote but not the popular vote, instead insisting that some manner of massive voter fraud must have robbed him of the resounding popular vote victory he clearly sees as his birthright.
The ego is obsessed with status, which helps explain why Trump is continually accusing his enemies of “failing” and being losers and disasters while trumpeting his accomplishments. The ego is obsessed with the concept of “winning” because that all-or-nothing approach reflects its fierce contention that only it matters in the world.
It can be hard not to get sucked into a toxic ego like Trump’s. There were days during the campaign when I would post about Trump twenty or thirty times a day, often at Trump. I tried to convince myself that tweeting angrily about and at Trump served some useful purpose, if only in allowing me to vent, but I was powered by ego just as much as Trump was.
When I tweeted angrily at Trump, my ego was controlling me. It was saying, “Look at me! Listen to me! What I have to say is important! I matter! My thoughts must be expressed and shared with the world. Retweet! Share! Tell the rest of the world how clever and smart and soulful I am!”
Looking back at it now, it was almost like a fever overtook me. My body would tense up, my heart rate would speed up. I would get viscerally angry multiple times a day over something Trump did and sprayed my online invective not just at Trump but also at Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee, Reince Priebus.
Did these angry tweets serve any purpose other than providing me with an outlet to work through my simmering rage at Trump and his revolution? I don’t think they did. They were just expressions of my own toxic ego angrily insisting that it be heard, on account of it being so important.
I don’t tweet about, or at Donald Trump much these days. The fever seems to have subsided a bit. I try to keep my ego in check, but it is a daily struggle, because I know damn well that when the ego roars and insists that I attack the most powerful people in the country, it’s only hurting me and my soul, and that being Donald Trump is the ultimate karmic punishment for possessing Donald Trump’s monstrous ego and all of the ugliness that comes with it.