Greedy Goblin

Friday, June 9, 2017

Social status and the invincibility of Trump

Every day since he rode down the escalator, Donald Trump did something that made pundits declare that he is done, he lost, he is over, he is impeached and so on. Every day they found something "scandalous" and announce that the "anomaly" is over and soon the "adults" can take back the White House.

Despite all such predictions were wrong, they are pretty busy making new ones. I can explain why they keep doing it and why Trump is invincible to such "scandals". To understand that, you have to understand the "pay for ego" thinking. Politicians are in this "game" for "social status". They sure could make more money as lawyers of businessmen, instead they work their ass of for a title like "congressman" or "governor". However it's not the name on the door that drives them, but to be accepted by other "prestigious" people. Note that almost all of them have a wall with photos of themselves together with another famous people. They live their lives in high society parties and golf games and whatnot, bathing in the "high society" life.

When something "scandalous" happens, it threatens this status. The famous friends one by one disavow them. They are no longer invited to parties. The donors needed for their reelection disappear. This is threatening the very reason they are in politics. But there is a way to end this: resign. As soon as they resign, the media forgets them and they are no longer a problem to the "prestigious" people. Sure, they are no longer congressmen or governor, but they are still connected, land in some CEO or lobbyist job and in that position they are still invited to the "right" parties. They can even hope to restart their career later, like Anthony Weiner who could run for mayor after he had to resign as congressman due to sex scandal (just to lose that race because another).

This is the "has to resign" situation that made no sense to me ever. I couldn't imagine when I "had to resign", only "I'm fired". For status-sensitive socials this is the situation when they can legally keep their job, but doing so would cost them their "friends and fun". These people play for ego instead of winning. Not Trump! He doesn't care what the "right people" think about him, he cares about stadiums full of people chanting his name, millions following his tweets and people on streets wear his hats. So again and again he refuses to save his "social status" and keeps his job. As a result, he indeed became a social pariah: every "opinion leader" shuns him, his social life turned into watching TV in bathrobe alone and his wife practically left him. This is unbearable to any social. I doubt he even notices these things.

There isn't a scandal that can remove Trump from the White House. The only way to remove him before election is to actually go through the impeachment process and physically drag him out. But that won't happen - exactly because he doesn't care about his status among Republicans. He won't play along like Nixon to save his friends, because they aren't his friends (I'm not sure if he has any). If they impeach him, he'll call them traitors and make sure that no "deplorable" ever votes for them, practically killing the party. This is why he got the nomination at the first place, despite NeverTrump Republicans. The party leadership knew that if they deny him after winning most pre-elections, he'll just make his own party and run as third candidate, killing any chance the Reps had. They thought, it's better just losing 2016 and get done with him. Voters thought differently.


Jim L said...

Trump is the ultimate social. He really wants to be admired and accepted. That is why he holds such a grudge against people who he thinks are insulting him.

The best description I have ever heard of his constant lying is that he isn't really lying. He is just telling audiences what they want to hear so they will love him.

I would love to play poker or be in negotiations with Trump. It would be like taking candy from a baby. Stroke his ego and tell him that he is great and he will become a pushover.

Gevlon said...

How lucky Trump is. He made businesses for like 40 years and made billions for one reason: he never met Jim L who could have taken it all from him like candy.

Halycon said...

Trump isn't unsinkable. He's probably done, it's just waiting for the wheels to turn. Watergate took 2 year from learning about it till Nixon left, investigations are a slow process. He'll go for the exact same thing Nixon did, obstruction of justice. The way our silly laws are written for a president it's not about the president doing wrong. It's about covering something up. He should have just let Michael Flynn hang then pardoned him after the fact. It's been done in the past. Trying to cover for Flynn up is what he'll go down for. Even if he did nothing wrong with Russia.

Trump's problem is he doesn't understand private vs public sector. There's a lot of things business people can do presidents can't, just like there's a lot of things presidents can do business people can't. What he should have done is shut up and taken a year easing into learning what his powers are and the limits of them. Instead he tried to act like a CEO instead of a president and ran heedlessly into an idiotic mistake that'll probably get him canned.

Anonymous said...

His current behaviour and skills indicate he has a lot of people who make his deals for him.
If you do not think he is your definition of social, explain his constant need to be liked and his strong reaction to any criticism.
Although, he is "successful" in that he has come back from bad business decisions more than anyone else

Gevlon said...

@Halycon: impeachment is a political process, not a judicial. Meaning: senate members will ask "will my vote for impeachment gets me reelected" instead of "is he guilty?".

Also, you are being offtopic. My point is that Nixon was NOT impeached. He resigned. Trump will never resign.

@Anonymous: I did not notice "constant need to be liked". Actually, he is one of the least liked person on the planet and he seems fine with it. He indeed fights his opponents (those who do "criticism"). How is that damning? Socials adjust/hide their behavior to fit in instead of fighting.

G said...

He needs others attention. Likes or hate: dosen't matter

Tithian said...

Politicians are in this "game" for "social status"

Some of the idealistic ones, sure, but not for long. And then, 99% of them are there for the money, and the future connections to make even more money. Obama just bought a mansion for something like 10 million $. Where do you think he got the money, his salary and savings? It's coming from deals that happened 'under the table', lobbies, and corporations that threw money at him to push their agendas.

Everyone goes into politics to eventually get rich. It's just a matter of when they turn to profiteering, rather than if. Trump seems to not care much about the social norms, because he is already rich and will not kiss some guy's ass for a couple of millions more.

Gevlon said...

@Tithian: no. If you get into politics, you get some money, sure. But you could make more money in business. You know, by being the guy who gave Obama his $10M.

souldrinker said...

People do not go into politics (a dirty, often dangerous vocation) for social status, golf and parties. They go there for power. They want to force other people to do things, want to impose their will on others. Many polititians become addicted to power.

Gevlon said...

@souldrinker: politicians have very little power and they learn that soon when they spend their first election kissing the butts of the voters. They are merely replaceable machine parts.

Randomus271 said...

What throws people off is that he is a very special type of Rational. He doesn't care about money, or power, or making the world a better place, or learning, or anything that 99.9% (if not more) of other (successful) Rational people desire - at least in our modern world.

What Trump wants - more than anything else in the world - is the anachronistic "Lasting Legacy".

Trump wants to make a huge mark on the world, with his name on it - so that people will "Remember Him Forever".

He would have fit perfectly into, say, the ancient Egyptian culture. I have little doubt he would have risen from obscurity to lie, cheat, steal, and murder his way into becoming Pharaoh - and then he would have built MORE pyramids and BIGGER pyramids than any other Pharaoh before him - with his face all over them.

In our modern world - although many people still care about their "Legacy" - our cultures are stacked against them. Most people who set off to create a truly lasting Legacy are either too Social (and thus simply become popular for a while and then get forgotten) - or are too psychopathic/sociopathic and are quickly crushed by the modern world (whether that means being literally thrown in prison/killed or merely pissing off the wrong people in the wrong way and being barred from the successful portions of society where they could gather the power to accomplish their goals).

Trump truly seems to be a 1-in-a-trillion outlier who both has this obsessive goal and is/was sufficiently Rational to see that in order to be able to accomplish this goal in the modern world he would need to mimic Social behavior and manipulate Socials into thinking he was one of them.

If it seems like he is becoming less social in recent times - he is. The more real power he gathers, the less he needs to pretend to be Social, and the more he can accomplish by using his true Rational (a-social) nature. As a billionaire business-mogul president - the only Social connection he has to maintain is with his voter base. And he can do that through twitter rather than face to face.

Anonymous said...

Trump's whole campaign and now presidency is the ultimate marketing opportunity. IMO he did not make money with his deal making skills or business savvy, but with his knack for marketing and selling himself and his brand. Look at all the deals all of his relatives are making/trying to make off of this. Look at all the groups staying at his hotels in an apparent effort to curry favor with him and his administration.

If he is smart Trump will go for a while, milk the marketing opportunity for all it's worth and then declare victory ("We got our conservative supreme court justice!") and try to hand it off to the Vice President. Most people who don't like him as president will be so happy to see him go they wont care to follow through on attempts to prosecute him for anything. Win/win.

Esteban said...

"They sure could make more money as lawyers of businessmen, instead they work their ass of for a title like "congressman" or "governor". However it's not the name on the door that drives them, but to be accepted by other "prestigious" people. Note that almost all of them have a wall with photos of themselves together with another famous people. They live their lives in high society parties and golf games and whatnot, bathing in the "high society" life."

Very strange argument. Implying that the wealthy don't bathe in high society life if they choose to do so, or that lawyers and businessmen don't have vanity walls. Implying also that the president who still cares about how his old 'Apprentice' ratings hold up against the new host of the show, and who said 'if you're a star, you can grab them by the pussy' is somehow immune to the allure of social status.

Meanwhile, I have a hard time imagining Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders... or even Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel going into politics to swan around with the glitterati. Merkel has always been as dowdy and logical-minded as they come, and Putin could have easily become an oligarch in the nineties if he had gone that route.

Most politicians (excepting 'scions of political dynasties' and such) do go into politics because they want to change something about their society. Most realise quickly how difficult that is and a good proportion do become corrupt or addicted to the social circles, but entry into politics is generally a selfless act (for good or ill) at the beginning.

Gevlon said...

@Randomus: mostly agree. He doesn't care WHAT mark he makes, as long as it's a lasting mark. Being the man who brought world peace forever or the one who won the biggest war is equally good for him. Which is both great and dangerous.

@Anon: except that he is 70, so he'll die soon enough anyway. Why bother with more money?

@Esteban: Apprentice rating is an objectively existing. Grabbing pussies is also yes or no. Social status is only in the head of rationals.

However I agree that at the beginning many of them were just naive. Early Hillary is ALMOST likable, though she was always fighting against the middle class for the "vulnerable minorities".

Randomus271 said...

@Gevlon: Agreed it isn't inherently a "good" or "bad" thing - and has the potential to be either one (likely to the extreme).

I honestly think he had bought into the illusion of power that comes with the presidency - and that he thought he would be able to simply take office and legitimately fulfill all of his campaign promises single-handedly within the first few months in office (leaving the rest of the time to work on world peace and a few Trump monuments)...

And of course he didn't get this far by giving up easily - so I do believe he would still *prefer* to be positively remembered for something amazing like bringing peace to the middle east or solving America's financial issues...

But you are right that starting/winning World War III with himself in the spotlight/focal point of the entire war would ultimately suit his need to leave a lasting legacy just as well - and there are indications he has been pushing his military boundaries even as he demands peace and positive things.

It will be a very interesting 4-8 years here...One way or another.

Since I also agree with you the other politicians don't have the spine to actually impeach him - and he definitely will not resign willingly.

At an absolute bare minimum I think his last-resort consolation Legacy would be to be remembered as the only president to ever go through the entire impeachment process and to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the office... Because at least then he would still be remembered (Nixon resigned and look how many people still talk about him constantly)

Slawomir Chmielewski said...

The only problem Trump has is that he isn't a politician.

He says what he thinks.

This inevitably ends in disaster. He is a smart man (even though he must have lost some IQ as he aged, as everybody does) but nobody knows everything. Politicians know it and never say anything meaningful. They just repeat platitudes about nothing and never say anything that could be considered not true. They know that anything that can be interpreted as remotely untrue will be trotted out by some smart-ass journalist as an evidence of being a liar. Since speech is very easy to deliberately misinterpret, there is no such thing as a "safe" statement.

Normal people don't worry about it. We speak with full realisation of our own stupidity. If we're wrong, no big deal. Somebody will notice and set us straight. That's what language is for, after all. This is why people love Trump - he speaks like an actual person and not like a politician or a journalist. What's more, in our (Western) culture, speaking one's mind is considered the highest moral virtue. This is what Christ died on the cross for, after all - for speaking his mind.

Journalists are having a hay day - the president talks. They can make up bullshit interpretation of his words and cause hysteria on demand. Like with the "pussy grabbing" incident that was presented as him advocating for sexual assault. He was merely stating that women "let rock stars do it", which is undoubtedly true.