A lot of people who identify as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents don’t want Donald Trump to be our next President. Yet, millions of men and women continue to vote for him despite unfavorable ratings that continue to climb. For the first time in more than 30 years of the ABC News/Washington Post poll’s history, Donald Trump earned the highest unfavorable rating among Americans as a front-running candidate in a presidential election, just barely falling behind the unfavorable rating of David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, when he ran for office during the 1992 election.
Mr. Trump received an unfavorable rating by 67 percent of Americans surveyed in the ABC/Washington Post poll released April 14, 2016, which is unprecedented for a leading candidate during an election season. The only other time a candidate saw such strong dislike during an election, was Duke who was rated unfavorably by 69 percent of Americans in an ABC/Post poll in February 1992. Unlike Trump, Duke was not successful in his campaign, winning fewer than 120,000 votes and zero delegates in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump has currently won more than 8 million votes in pursuit of the GOP nomination.
It should be noted that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, also has a very high unfavorable rating. Hillary Clinton was seen unfavorably by 52 percent in an ABC/Post poll last month, 2 percentage points from her worst, 54 percent unfavorable rating in April, 2008. That was the highest unpopularity in ABC/Post polling for any Democratic Party candidate in an election year, albeit still far lower than Mr. Trump’s.
How do we account for millions of people voting for candidates who are seen so negatively? Why do I think Donald Trump may be our next President? What would have to change in the U.S. to keep Mr. Trump from being elected? And most importantly what would have to change in the U.S. to have people in office that reflects the best in us, not the worst?
Our Presidential Candidates Reflect the View We Hold of Ourselves.
We may like to hear slogans that tell us “we’re the best, America is number 1.” But the truth is deep inside we don’t like ourselves very well. And the reality is we’re not very likeable. It’s hard to feel good about ourselves when we continue to destroy other people and the life-support system on planet Earth. As Charles Eisenstein says in his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, “Who could have foreseen, two generations ago when the story of progress was strong, that the twenty-first century would be a time of school massacres, of rampant obesity, of growing indebtedness, of pervasive insecurity, of intensifying concentration of wealth, of unabated world hunger, and of environmental degradation that threatens civilization?”
It’s no wonder that rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, particularly among older, white males. Further, more and more people are suffering from chronic pain and are overdosing on pain medications. Was that what killed the entertainer, Prince?
When Problems Become Too Complex, We Long For Simple Solutions, Even if They Are Wrong.
As our world becomes more complex and problems become more difficult to solve, we turn to simple solutions that give our psyches comfort. How do we deal with poverty, over-population, global climate change, endless wars? It’s difficult to figure out what to do. We are all drawn to someone who seems to know the answer. “ISIS? Trust me, I’ll eliminate them in short order,” says Mr. Trump. Too many people in the world and an economic system that keeps people in poverty? “Don’t worry, I’ll build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out,” says Mr. Trump, “and I’ll get Mexico to pay for it.”
People having difficulty with the rise of female power and prestige? White men becoming uncomfortable with the non-white world? He’s got an app for that, too. “We’ll ban Muslims from America and ridicule and shame women until they get back in their proper place.”
If you think this is all ridiculous and the American people would never elect someone like this, you don’t fully appreciate the way our subconscious mind works to simplify the world and protect our psyche from being overwhelmed. Why are reality T.V. shows so popular? Why do shows like Survivor, American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and of course Donald Trump’s The Apprentice draw so many people? We long for simple solutions, happy endings, winners we can cheer for, and losers we can rise above.
Mr. Trump Seems to Have Suffered Abuse, Neglect, and Abandonment as a Child. Many of Us Resonate with His Rage.
We know from Mr. Trump’s own writing that he was an aggressive and violent child growing up, that he was sent to military school at a young age, and had difficulty controlling his temper. It’s not surprising that we have gotten statements like these from Mr. Trump:
- “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
- “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of a**.”
- “I would bomb the sh** out of them. I would just bomb those suckers, and that’s right, I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.”
- “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
These kinds of statements repulse many. As a trauma-informed therapist they are red flags of a person who has suffered serious abuse, neglect, and abandonment. But Mr. Trump isn’t the only one who has suffered these kinds of indignities.
Ongoing studies reported by the National Centers for Disease Control (Adverse Childhood Experiences—ACE—Studies) demonstrate that childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment are more common than most of us think and impact our adult health and relationships. Abused children often hook up with each other as adults (It’s our subconscious attempt to heal old wounds). Whether we’re passionately in favor of Donald Trump or passionately opposed to him, we likely have some healing to do.
How to Have a Healthy Government (and a Healthy Life).
We’d all like a simple solution to the complex problems we face in life. If we don’t want Mr. Trump in 2016 or someone worse now or later, there are some simple things we can do.
- Learn about the impact of childhood trauma on our adult lives.
- Address our adult depression, aggression, and misery.
- Learn to live more simply and in balance with our environment.
- Love our selves more deeply and care about others (even those we may feel are doing us harm).
- Find out how to have real, lasting love in your life.
We really can have the kind of world we want. We just have to see it, feel it, and do the hard work of healing and commitment that is required to change the old system of separation to one, as Charles Eisenstein calls it, of “Interbeing.”
“A recognition of alliance is growing among people in diverse arenas of activism, whether political, social, or spiritual, says Eisenstein. “The holistic acupuncturist and the sea turtle rescuer may not be able to explain the feeling, ‘We are serving the same thing,’ but they are. Both are in service to an emerging Story of the People that is the defining mythology of a new kind of civilization. I will call it the Story of Interbeing, the Age of Reunion, the ecological age, the world of the gift. It offers an entirely different set of answers to the defining questions of life.”
Many of us are on the path of Interbeing and are connecting with others from different backgrounds who are ready to create a different, more hopeful, and more helpful story of humankind. Let’s hear your part of the story. What excites you these days?
I look forward to your thoughts and comments.