Why are the Donald and Bernie doing so well and Hillary so poorly?
Pundits counted Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders out early in the current presidential race, but their predictions now look foolish in retrospect. Trump has dominated the large Republican field from the outset, and the socialist Sanders has astounded all with his populist appeal to progressives and young, idealistic voters. What on earth is going on here?
Let’s bring Freudian and Jungian psychology in here. Experts take little stock of these theories today, but there are some specks of gold among the conceptual pyrite. The brilliant Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was the only gentile in the early pantheon of Freudians, and the master himself considered Jung a “son” and probable heir to the movement. Yet, Jung’s brilliance was a threat and the apparent cause of Freud’s occasional fainting fits.
One of Jung’s specks of gold was his distinction between the “real self” and the “persona.” This distinction goes to heart of the Trump-Sanders question raised above. The real self is who you are in the deepest parts of your brain and personality. It is the “real you” regardless of your outward reputation or appearance. Only very psychologically minded persons have much insight into the real self. Much of it is hidden in the subconscious and is elusive to self-awareness. Insight forms of psychotherapy help one gain access to this fundamental part of the personality.
The persona, by contrast, is that often fabricated part of the personality that we present to the outside world. Take a child-abusing Catholic priest as an example. Deep in his real self are monsters and demons gnawing away at the very roots of his existence, yet at the level of the persona he is beloved by his parishioners and the outward epitome of gentleness and grace.
People who have a large gap between their true inner self and their outer fabricated self tend to be filled with conflict and angst, are neurotic and sometimes worse, and are manipulative of others by definition. They, in essence, advertise and sell an inferior product to gullible others.
People are attracted to those who are “real,” and they abhor deception and the subtle manipulations of the self-selling con artist. It is particularly hurtful to people of lower cast and status when their rulers, idols, heroes and protectors casually manipulate them in this way. Once the masses see through the real or attributed deceptions of their leaders the outcomes are brutal – as in the French Revolution, the horrendous death on Benito Mussolini, the assassination of the Romanov family and so on.
Now we see why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been so inexplicably successful in their campaigns. Both of them have a minimal gap between their real selves and personas; the inner and outer selves are basically congruent. They mean what they say and say what they mean, and to Hades with the consequences. They are honest, straightforward and almost naively direct in their beliefs. What a gush of fresh air in American politics!
Unfortunately, a small gap between the real and feigned selves does not necessarily imply a positive social or political outcome, unless the real self is basically good at the outset. That is, you are a nice guy inwardly and then you project positive vibes outwardly. I believe that both Donald and Bernie do this pretty well.
When a person is evil internally and wants to be viewed that way, a small gap is disastrous. Indeed, some of the most vicious and warlike people in world history – the Vikings, Huns, Celts, Mongols and the like – were mean and murderous from their innermost selves out to their frightening and deadly real-world exteriors. Like today’s scourge of ISIS, they did everything possible to maximize the outward manifestations of their readiness for rape, torture, kidnapping and slaughter on a grand scale in hopes of intimidating enemies into submission.
As good guys, both Trump and Sanders still have an ample measure of real-self quirks and eccentricities. Trump is of the warrior class with its competitiveness, sensitivity to insult, the crushing and humiliating of opposition, egotism and air of superiority, and downright meanness at times. However, he appears to be an excellent and beloved father, a world-class wheeler and dealer and a guy who gets the job done. He is truly “what you see is what you get.”
Sanders is similarly honest and real, and his sincere devotion to what I call quirky ideas is unquestioned. His stereotype is that of an angry, naïve, idealistic dreamer who is perpetually outraged, and he was once described by Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” as a “full-term curmudgeon” who apparently “forgot his comb.” In my view, he is a person who is totally sincere in espousing ideas that are sincerely wrong in most every respect.
When we apply our analysis to Hillary Clinton and hubby Bill, things get very interesting indeed. How do they compare to our basically nice guys Donald and Bernie? The results are devastating. The “gap” between Bill’s deep, real-self addictive and abusive womanizing and his outward sweet, just-a-little-bit-country and “I-feel-your-pain” persona is large. His “realness” and true sincerity pale in comparison to both Trump and Sanders. But we still kind of like the guy.
However, the current Democratic front-runner for president, Hillary Clinton, sets new standards with her gigantic gap between the true self and the “as you see me” self. In my view, she comes closes to the “pure persona” where the outward manifestation so outweighs the “real self” that one wonders if there is anything inside. She personifies the “get a poll and shape a role” strategy that is the shame of American politics. She is a feminist, liberal and progressive, but beyond that, who is she?
Whatever and whoever she is, it is not attractive in the eyes of most people. Unflattering descriptions include “corrupt to the core,” “a congenital liar,” “a neocon warmonger,” “greedy and money obsessed,” “the ‘hero’ of Benghazi,” and the list goes on. It is shocking how many times the word “evil” is associated with Hillary Clinton. Her laugh is evil, she is an evil lesbian, according to Trumpster Roger Stone, and is 100 percent pure evil, according to one source. To me this reflects serious concerns about the “real self” at the core of her personality.
In sum, Trump is a tough, “what you see is what you get” alpha male who very well may become our next president; Sanders is a sincere and likeable old guy who will not be president; Bill Clinton is a lovable scoundrel with a charming persona; and, Hillary is … what more can I say?