“Dear Friend, I was thinking about the effects that Donald Trump has had on me personally, an…”
Dear Friend, I was thinking about the effects that Donald Trump has had on me personally, and it made me realize how different these are than any other President. Like most people who follow politics, Trump has at times had a real impact on my feelings and emotions. I still remember the day after he was elected in 2016, how shell-shocked everyone felt. I remember a friend texting me (a friend who isn't even American), asking "what happens now?" And, while I and virtually everyone I know despise Trump, I'm sure his supporters feel equally strong emotions in connection with him. In that sense, I think he's directly touched the lives of people more than any other modern President. That's the difference. Most Presidents impact our lives in extremely obscure, mediated ways: laws, courts, bureaucracies. The way Trump affects us is also mediated, through words, images, sounds, tweets, but it seems to involve the direct transmission of an emotional charge. Trump is clearly very skilled at eliciting emotional excitation in other people, at moving crowds to passion, for or against him. An intelligent, ambitious, or simply power-hungry politician could accomplish great or terrible things with that skill. But Trump seems to lack any ambition to change the world. He seems motivated purely by narcissism. He seems to have two desires: attention and to feel like he's winning. And because of that, for all the emotional intensity he generates, he's also remarkably ineffective. I'm not convinced he believes in anything.