Insecure Males: Trump’s Political Base
By Jonathan Donahue, M.A., LMHC
As President Donald Trump continues to run roughshod over the landscape, the same question that haunted the election season persists: who are the people who support Trump and what do they see in him?
At its core, the answer is simple: insecure males are Trump’s key political demographic. Trump has labeled them sympathetically as the ‘forgotten Americans’, but the claims that we haven’t listened to these uneducated, unenlightened, highly reactive men, is infuriating. We heard their views loud and clear during the Bush years: creationism, xenophobia, gun worship, homophobia.
Trump won them over because he speaks their language. The new president’s whole persona is one of inflated might, a puffed-up ruffling of his orange plumage, a sharpening of his horny antlers against the skyscrapers of America. He promises to be an Anglo Big Brother, and this arouses other males to collective chest-beating.
Plainly, the world remains a scary and violent place because it is still controlled by alpha males, macho men, good ol’ boys, or whatever one wishes to call them. More accurately, we are talking about an exaggerated form of masculinity, the kind that attempts to conceal all weakness. It is manhood with one foot still stuck in the animal kingdom, where the biggest tusks and thickest manes get the females. It is masculinity without reflection, a ‘feminine’ trait. Mostly it is masculinity without self-awareness.
The reason we have wars is simply because we have so many war-like people. How do men become like this? Geneticists have suggested that some have a ‘warrior gene’ and are simply born aggressive. But does that account for everything? I don’t think so.
Many men are emotionally stunted simply because their fathers were that way. Fathers who handle their emotions via alcohol, violence, or –if you’re lucky—a brooding, foreboding distance, have not been fully socialized for the modern world. They have not learned higher level skills, the sophistication to handle nuance, to think deeply, to take their own fears into account when assessing others. Projecting their own shortcomings outward, they walk around in a state of moderate paranoia, ready to come to fisticuffs and bullets in a flash. Except for anger and bravado, they do not discuss or express feelings. They are too scared to.
Instead they quickly synthesize fear into anger. To make themselves feel safe, they buy the biggest truck or flashiest car they can find, wave the flag, and scapegoat others. And nothing augments penile power better than carrying a gun. This may sound like stereotyping, yet we see these kinds of men around us all the time. That tough guy in leather, strutting down the street flexing his muscles, isn’t a courageous person, but a fearful one. He wants to scare you before you scare him. The slick narcissist in the sports car speeding by you on the highway needs to feel utterly grand, lest he learn about his true self.
And as we know, world leaders play ‘chicken’, too. On a psychological level, I doubt that Vladimir Putin is trying to accomplishment anything more than an increased sense of empowerment for himself. He may cloak his actions in nationalistic concern for his people, but at the end of the day, he simply wants to be the alpha male, with all the spoils that offers.
In Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson deftly describe the evolutionary purpose of male violence. Natural selection dictates that the most physically vigorous animals have the greatest success at mating, because their vigor is seen by females as a desirable trait to pass on to offspring. So, the biggest, toughest, most aggressive male beasts reproduce the most.
Amongst humans this dynamic still exists, though the rules have changed. Financial prowess is now more important than physical strength, which is why Mr. Trump –with pot belly and ridiculous hair—is married to a stunning model. He can afford her.
If our species is to carry on, a large segment of the male population needs to crawl out of the slime and evolve. The territoriality that leads to war, the genetic jockeying that fuels racism, and the misogynistic inclination to suppress female freedom, is all rooted in male insecurity. This dates way back to the days when only the biggest, toughest ape got to mate. Insecure men augment the power of their penises by carrying guns.
Contraception and abortion threatens some males, for they pave the way to female sexual empowerment. Men still fear female promiscuity because being cuckolded is their greatest fear. It damages their sense of status and empowerment amongst other males, whom they ultimately see as competitors. Insecure men, flouting their pseudo-strength, are often overflowing with possessiveness and jealousy. And women of low self-esteem mate with them.
And then they have children. My belief is that the world’s most pressing problem is child abuse/neglect, because this is where our troubles begin. Angry, emotionally stunted parents raise the same kind of offspring. Males and females are still socialized very differently, to the detriment of both.
But until males get their emotional acts together, the world will continue to be a competitive, violent mess. Men must start facing up to their fears, and stop passing them on to their sons. They need to show up in the therapy office, the 12-step group, and start working on themselves. Let’s face it, guys: it’s men that mess up the world.
Indeed, the battles over oil, territory, and ideology are just excuses for angry males to flex their muscles. We still have much in common with wild animals. Unlike beasts, however, our consciousness, when properly applied, can override primitive drives and lead to a more evolved behavior and a saner, safer world.
Jonathan Donahue, LMHC
781 454 7496