Understanding Diehard Trump Supporters: Abusive Father Syndrome

Many of us, especially on the Left, are puzzled and dismayed by the vehemence with which much of Trump’s support base will cling to him despite all of the offenses, outrages, and failures.

There is probably not one simple explanation that accounts for all, but one factor that seems likely: growing up in a household with a cold, uncaring, neglectful, abusive or absent father. This can result in chronic feelings of insecurity, fear, personal inadequacy, and an ongoing-but-futile effort to “please Daddy” and win his approval. It is generally a life-long unresolved trauma.

Many people in positions of leadership and authority often function somewhat like quasi-parents. A male president might then be viewed by some as a sort of father-figure to the nation.

So, perfect storm — along comes Trump, the epitome of an abusive, un-pleaseable “daddy”, with near zero warmth, kindness, or concern. This feels completely familiar — maybe in an odd way even “comfortable” to many supporters. Moreover, it validates their pain and neglect by forcing everyone else to live under the same circumstances.

Yet if there is any path towards resolution, it does not lie in the heaping of further shame and contempt upon such people. That, they have learned to deal with (mostly by putting up a psychic wall).

The higher path, perhaps difficult at the start, is to accept their worth as fellow human beings, acknowledge their pain, and enlist them in creating a future that considers the needs and provides opportunities for all.

If that sounds like a starry-eye Liberal fantasy, I point you to a new book “Love Your Enemies — How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt” by the former head of American Enterprise Institute (hardly a bastion of Liberalism). A recent PBS interview can be viewed at:

Arthur Brooks on why we hate our political enemies — and how to stop

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