University of Sarajevo (B+H)
Nowadays, it seems countries that were recently under the totalitarian regimes are trying to taste the fruits of democracy. On the other hand, truly democratic countries want to breathe a fresh wind of change and, as a result, they incline to the conservative alternatives step by step. For the later group of countries, the republican/conservative option is considered a new political brand that should be followed, supported, praised and glorified….
Our post-modern society can be described as a broad, worldwide community of spectacle. The globalization processes strengthen the ties between people all over the world. People now do not want to take part in important world events. They rather want to observe scandals because these are interesting events, full of pleasure and excitement. This phenomenon is known as collective voyeurism.
In my opinion, Donald J. Trump is an extraordinary skilled showman; he is distinguished by his subversive public appearance. Social psychology says that if somebody, or something, is salient in our field of perception, we can easily notice and remember him/her/it; and as a result of this shallow cognitive process, this entity can influence our attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Therefore, the first ace that Trump uses to play the (pre) election game.
The second one is his background of many years standing entrepreneurship. To be specific, he perceives the USA as a large business organization or international corporation (in terms of the foreign policy). Thus, he probably, regards emigrants as “applicants” who should fulfill all the prerequisites in order to be hired in a job position. In this case, the job position refers to living and working in the USA. Insofar as Trump’s primary preoccupations are real estates, building, selling, and marketing, it is nor surprising that he wants to set up a wall along the border with Mexico similar to the Great Wall of China. His suggestion that Japan and South Korea should build their own nuclear weapons, while withdrawing the American troops from these territories, is also in accordance with his chief preoccupation “using innovation and changing strategies in a business corporation”. Therefore, the pattern of his future chess-like moves can be predicted based on the following considerations.
From the perspective of personality psychology, Trump’s childhood and adolescence experiences (he was the fourth of the five children in his family, and he attended a military academy) have the following effect on his current public behavior and statements: it seems that he is a headstrong, ambitious person who wants to reach a high level of self-affirmation. He has to prove (to himself) that he is not a less important child, as well as that he is strong enough to survive his physical and social environment. Additionally, he has a very high need for power, dominance, and autonomy. So, his participation in the election race is a sort of self-transcendent gesture, influenced by his self-affirmation. However, I am afraid that Trump is too much self-centered that he will oversee or ignore American national interests. Furthermore, the fact that his wives were fashion model, actress, and photo model indicates that his personal value system is based on superficial beauty, appearance, and public image. His social (public) self is the only thing that matters (from his point of view) and it appears that the most appropriate social role for him is to be a celebrity, i.e. a well-known social figure, which is worth of all nation’s attention.
Besides, his strengths are the following:
- He is so a self-confident person that can resist other political leaders and show the world that the USA is still strong, powerful, and vigorous country
- When he wins and succeeds, the whole nation can feel this victory situation as their own (as most people want to identify themselves with an authoritarian, prosperous and strict leaders.
- His business experience can be advantageous to the USA if he will use it for appropriate purposes, because every country can be considered as a corporation, with its incomes and debts, as well as partnership with other countries.
Of course, there are two main constraints that have to be underlined:
- Psychologically speaking, he can be characterized as an A type of personality (these persons are short-tempered and impulsive, and their psychological nature makes them prone to heart attacks, poor relations with other people etc.)
- I think that he is also a thrill-seeking person, and will show a kind of hazardous or high-risk behavior if he sits on the presidential chair.
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is a true democrat; however, his advanced age can turn voters away, and not vote for him; psychology tells us that we perceive old people as being conservative, traditional, conventional, and not open-minded.
Hillary Clinton’s surname can make people recall the old times and think of her political engagement as old-fashioned. The other element is her gender. From the corner of social psychology, nations want to set women in place of their president when they think that their country’s power and economy have decreased. The logic that lays behind this logic is : ”If our country will fail, let ‘the less (physically) strong person’ lead it. We will get over the ultimate failure much easier if we can attribute it to a woman and not a man”.
Because, these are the principal parts of the engine of the contemporary social machinery: competence, ambition, and aspiration (along with the high-achievement-seeking behavior).
Note: The author is a psychologist, author of several textbooks and dozens of articles on psychology. His latest publication Psihologija Licnosti : Teorija i Empirija was published in Podgorica, 2016)