Ever since he showed up on the national stage, Trump has been called — with good reason — a narcissist, a megalomaniac, a disordered personality. But he is also a sadist, and he leads a sadistic base.
This point has been raised before on this blog — Trump is Sadistic — but it bears reexamination, because I think it deserves even more attention. Here is a nine-part test devised by a group of psychologists to look for sadism:
- I have made fun of people so that they know I am in control.
- I never get tired of pushing people around.
- I would hurt somebody if it meant I would be in control.
- When I mock someone, it’s funny to see them get upset.
- Being mean to others can be exciting.
- I get pleasure from mocking people in front of their friends.
- Watching people get into fights excites me.
- I think about hurting people who irritate me.
- I would not purposely hurt anybody, even if I didn’t like them.
(I have to assume that a “no” answer to #9 is an indication of sadism.)
Now, I’m not a psychologist, and this is not even pretending to be a diagnosis. But I can’t look at this list without thinking Trump fits this list to, well, a T. (I’m not completely sure about #7, but he does say he likes to have chaos around him, which is pretty close.)
But it’s not just Trump. It’s never been just Trump. He would never have gotten anywhere near the Oval Office if there weren’t a cadre of Americans who think in similar terms. He drives his base into raptures when he threatens to lock people up, when he wonders why people at his rallies who raise objections aren’t being beaten up, when he offers to pay the legal fees if someone will punch a protestor in the face. His base talks of “sticking it to the libturds” when we get upset over things Trump has done, such as taking children away from the parents, locking them in cages, and then denying them things like soap and flu vaccines. Or backing Saudi Arabia after their sadistic murder of a journalist and American resident.
One of the defining traits of sadism is schadenfreude — taking pleasure in another’s pain.
His attorney general threatens people who complain about police brutality with losing police protection.
Neo-Nazis — “very fine people” — back him. So do White Nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan. All of these groups have sadistic patterns.
He loves humiliating people; look at what he did to Mitt Romney, getting him to grovel by dangling the Secretary of State position at him. He’s doing the same thing to Zelenskiy in Ukraine. Yes, this is about getting dirt on his possible opponent, but it’s also about tormenting a desperate man.
I’m going to take a controversial turn here and add that part of this sadism is the fault of Christianity. Christianity has many noble ideals and Christians have done noble deeds, but there is also an element of sadism in Christianity’s makeup which frequently raises its ugly head. The Inquisition is a classic example, of course, but there is also the Crusader massacre of Jerusalem, the brutality of slavery justified as “saving their souls,” and of course the threat of hell. I once visited a medieval hospice in Baume (near Lyon, in France); this was a place for the sick and dying, and all the walls were painted with scenes of sinners being tortured. The second century theologian Tertullian wrote of how he was looking forward to going to heaven and gloating over those who did not believe and who were now roasting in the fires. Just the other day Trump invited Robert Jeffress to give the invocation at the White House Chanukah party — a man who has said that Jews are going to hell, along with Mormons, Hindus, and most Catholics. (Trump knows this, surely, so this is another example of his sadism.) Evangelicals back Trump in part because he plays to their religious sadism.
For historical reasons which are too complex to go into here (wait for my book), early Christians felt it necessary to threaten everyone who did not believe as they did with eternal torment, often spelled out in disturbing detail. Trump and his base, and for that matter much of the Republican leadership, as doing the same thing today: Believe in Trump or there will be hell to pay.
PS: As I was finishing up this diary, I saw another diary just posted: Moscow Mitcg gleeful over his wanton destruction of the Senate and the Judiciary. Right there is another example of the sadism that now colors the GOP.