Many people wonder: Who could still support Trump after he has said and done so many immoral and illegal things? After he has said he won’t accept a peaceful transition of power if he loses. After he has repeatedly lied for months and said the election will be compromised. After he has blatantly lied about COVID and caused the unnecessary death of tens of thousands of citizens. After be has violated his oath of office dozens of times. And on and on…
Well, from the front lines, here is an example of a conversation with a real person who is still supporting Trump. With these conversational examples, we get hard evidence that this man supports Trump because he is exactly like Trump. Sociopaths hang together. As I have written repeatedly, they both want to avoid accountability and shame.
As a precinct delegate I call voters, walk my precinct and do “contactless canvassing” by placing flyers on doors. Pre-COVID, we would knock on doors and engage voters. Now, I only engage voters if I happen upon residents outside. I talk to them from a distance and with a mask on (Imprinted with Biden/Harris!)
At the very last house on my canvassing list today, I had my flyers ready to put on the door, when a man walked out of the garage. Great, I thought, I’ll talk to him. Spoiler alert: I did not have such a positive attitude when I left that driveway and I did not convert any voters to Democratic. However, he gave me the perfect example of the kind of person who still supports Trump despite four years of corrupt, immoral, sociopathic behavior.
We’ll call my neighbor “Rudy”. Below I detail specific communication tactics and behaviors he engaged in that gave this psychologist big clues into Rudy’s abusive personality and why he is in the Trump cult. First, he pretended to be an undecided voter who wanted to engage in a respectful conversation about issues. This was a false front to lure me in and then abuse me, which he very quickly did. Narcissists and sociopaths (I group them under the label “Other-Blamers”), have very predictable abusive behaviors that give away their personality. Presenting with false personalities is one of them. They often appear to be decent human beings, yet with a bit of time their real character is revealed. For Rudy, that lag time was about 30 seconds. His tells were super obvious and came to light immediately, as we will soon see!
- He started right out with a false statement made as an accusation. Other-blamers love to make accusations, because it puts their victim on the defensive right way. Rudy stated, “Well, if Democrats had stayed with supporting the unions, then they might have had more votes.” Wow, so you’re telling me, Rudy, that the GOP is more pro-union than the Dems? I’m not sure anyone believes that lie. Union endorsements would give us evidence on this issue, don’t you think? Other-blamers love to attack attack, attack, because they know that then their victims have to defend and this not only feels good to the Other-blamer, but helps them feel like they dominate and win arguments. Helps their fragile egos!
- Rudy used a common abusive tactic: He engaging in a high-pressure, fast-paced conversational speed. Rudy over-talked me and changed the subject immediately after I made a one-sentence reply to any of his rapid-fire comments. Other-blamers know they can’t win a thoughtful, calm conversation based on facts. They can only “win” if they release a firehose of accusations against their victims so that the victim gets flustered. They pressure their abuse victims relentlessly with jackhammer questions that also have the bonus of being demeaning and gaslighting: “Come on, you should know how much insurance costs, you’re a smart person, how come you don’t know this? Come on, how much does insurance cost a family of four? You should know this! Why can’t you answer?”
- He didn’t approach the conversation as a dialogue to gain mutual understanding, but instead approached it as a chance to score points, defeat me and humiliate me. (Hint: This is not the way to build relationships or appear emotionally mature.) Narcissists and abusers all have very low self-worth and deep-seated inadequacy, so they have to go about their lives trying desperately to feel superior to others. In the process, they engage in abusive and demeaning behaviors to assuage their fragile egos.
- Rudy changed the subject about 50 times in a five-minute conversation, usually after only a one sentence response from me. Just like Trump, who walks out of press conferences when asked questions he is embarrassed to answer, Rudy knew when the facts were against him. But rather than engage in a conversation in a fair, accountable manner, he immediately changed the subject when he was cornered by the facts.
- Rudy repeatedly over-talked me. I couldn’t even answer with one sentence before he jabbered on about some other subject to divert from his losing argument. The is rude, of course, but clearly shows he was not interested in a reasonable, reasoned adult conversation. He merely was in it to “win” and score points so he could feel better about himself.
- Rudy displayed classic gaslighting behaviors. When I became frustrated and upset with his high-pressure over-talking, lying and accusations, he had the gall to say: “See, this is what Democrats do, they become all emotional and this is how they offend voters.” Wow. I could put this in a textbook under “gaslighting.”
- He stated: “Climate change is not a priority to me.” In an effort to build rapport, I said, “I can see why you would vote for Republicans if you feel climate change is not important.” Those words hadn’t left my mouth when he immediately became angry and said I was twisting his words. Rudy literally said: “I didn’t say it wasn’t important I said it wasn’t a priority.” This is classic narcissistic/sociopathic gaslighting behavior — making minor semantic arguments to divert, shift blame, and assuage their guilty ego. Look, why can’t you defend your statement that you don’t think climate change is a priority? Oh, because you are ashamed. Hence, the Other-Blaming and gaslighting behavior! Those of us with well-informed, fact-based opinions based on healthy morals and values can defend our positions without the use of gaslighting tricks and abusive conversational tactics. I do think climate policy is a priority and I’m not ashamed to say that out loud and defend my position with scientific facts.
- He stated he liked low tax rates and began pestering me with personal questions that were irrelevant to tax rates: “Are you married? Do you have children? Do you have family?” This is classic sociopathic behavior as well. They like to put their victims on the “back foot” by attacking them personally, asking irrelevant questions that cause confusion, diverting from the real content at hand, dismissing the victim of their abuse as unqualified, and devaluing the victim out of hand. If I didn’t have children or wasn’t married, then I had no right, according to Rudy, to have an opinion about taxes. Of course, I, as a single woman, do pay for health insurance and do pay taxes and do have a right to have an opinion about these issues. (Although the GOP, per their latest Supreme Court nominee, apparently believe that women should be subservient to men.)
- Just like all Other-Blamers, he used a trick of conveniently dismissing my arguments by saying he hadn’t read that or seen that information. I stated Trump and the GOP had continuously voted to destroy the Affordable Care Act (70 times in fact) and were currently taking it to the Supreme Court, which was set to hear arguments in early November. His comment was: “I haven’t heard that,” and he changed the subject (I sense a trend!) As if his (supposed) lack of awareness of this issue made it irrelevant. My facts were dismissed merely because he could claim he didn’t share those same facts. A normal human would have said: “Oh, I wasn’t aware that Trump was challenging Obamacare in the Supreme Court. Tell me more.” When I said that Trump said that ballots shouldn’t be counted and that he refused to transition out of office peacefully if he lost, Rudy also dismissed this as false “because I haven’t heard it.” Given Rudy’s well-informed opinions on other issues, I’m sure he was aware of these issues, too, but didn’t want to admit it because it would have proven MY point. But my faithful readers know that abusers, narcissists, sociopaths and Other-Blamers can never admit they are wrong, so they engage in these diversionary tactics rather than arguing fairly about the facts. Insecure people refuse to argue fairly, but cheat to win, just like Trump.
- Lack of accountability and lying: During the above discussions on the Supreme Court case and the ACA, twice I told him this information was on the mainstream news. Twice when I said that Rudy could not make eye contact. His downcast eyes tole me that he was lying and ashamed because he knew was lying. Body language is a tell, Rudy! But what do we psychologists know about emotions and human behavior, right?
- He regularly baited me to set me up to make a mistake so he could trap me. He asked me, for no valid reason — as if a discussion on national health insurance hinged on my knowledge of this answer! — how much health insurance cost a family of four. I told him I didn’t know, that I only paid for myself, but I knew it was expensive. He kept badgering me for an answer hoping to trap me in a “wrong” answer and somehow prove some point he was trying to make. Hey, I can agree that health insurance is expensive, because it is. How is trapping me in a “mistake” going to win you points in that argument? This is a classic “straw man” argument, where a perpetrator tries to “win” an argument based on some extraneous fact rather than the core argument at hand. Rudy thought that proving I didn’t know how much health insurance cost would somehow make his argument against the overall concept of the Affordable Care Act a winner. Sorry, Rudy, you’re a loser in this case. Proving insurance is expensive only makes more of an argument for the ACA AND universal health care. He also put the screws on me about taxes, repeatedly jabbing at me: “What should the tax rate be? Come on, you should know what the answer is.” As if a person could simplify tens of thousands of pages of local, state and national tax policy and regulations into a one-sentence answer with one “tax rate”. This is classic gaslighting technique of demanding an answer of a person and making a person feel confused and inadequate, so that they learn to submit to the dominating barrage of the Other-Blamer.
- In a five-minute conversation he bought up tax policy, health insurance, government spending, and so many topics I lost count. Using a firehose technique of trying to overwhelm his victim with a litany of topics is classic abusive behavior. This ensures the victim cannot respond adequately to any of these topics, feels overwhelmed, gets distressed, and may even engage in self-doubt, which weakens the victim for future attacks by the abuser. A self-blaming victim will be less likely to challenge the Other-blamer in the future, ensuring the Other-blamer dominance in the relationship.
- As I reflect on the conversation, I notice the topics Rudy did not voluntarily bring up about Trump: treasonously colluding with Russia or Ukraine, being impeached for contempt of Congress, his love of dictators, his senility, his mental health issues, his lies about COVID, his lies about voting by mail, his 20,000 lies overall, his paying off porn stars, his golfing on the taxpayer dollar and violating his oath not to golf, the number of convicted criminals in his entourage, his failed the overall un-Presidential behavior and corruption, etc. Instead, Rudy talked only about the theoretical policies of the GOP, rather than the actual votes or actions of Trumpists. Narcissists will assiduously avoid topics for which they know they will have no rational response. They will hope you don’t bring up these topics and if you do, they will engage in the conversational topics addressed here: diverting, blame-shifting, “whataboutism” and false comparisons, lying, deflecting, changing the subject, accusations, etc.
- Rudy made broad assertions about me and assumed things about me: “You don’t know anything about running a business.” Well, actually I am a business owner and have been for most of my adult life, as well as having worked as a manager in various corporations for many years. “You don’t know about health care. My wife works in health care.” Well, I have worked in health care related fields for most of my 40-year career. “You don’t know anything about insurance costs.” Well, actually I pay my own health insurance, homeowners, auto AND professional liability insurance, so yes I do know about this issue, as do most Americans. I also see patients every day who struggle with insurance issues because maybe they’ve lost their job and lost their health coverage, or can’t afford their deductible.
- He said universal health insurance would increase wait times for services, then questioned me accusingly about the supposed long waiting list for my practice. (His accusation made no sense, because his point was that under “universal health care” we’d have waiting lists, but we don’t have this in the US now… more gaslighting!) I told him people could see me same-day quite often or have numerous appointment options within a week, and… sure enough the subject got changed again! Rather than admit he was wrong, he diverted yet again to a new subject.
- Toward the end of the conversation I stated I was a psychologist who had co-authored a national bestseller on Trump’s mental health issues and stated Trump was a sociopath. Rudy completed ignored my statement, which seems rather odd given the power of the president. If someone had said Obama was a sociopath, I would have considered that statement and addressed it out of concern for the fact that a sociopath might be president. Instead, like all Other-Blamers who gets confronted with uncomfortably irrefutable evidence, he changed the subject. He stated that I had no right to diagnose Trump because I hadn’t interviewed him. Gotta give him credit for paying attention to the pundits on Faux News, but he sure hasn’t read our book or any of hundreds of informed opinions on the Goldwater “rule.” The Goldwater “rule” has been used for the past four years as a cudgel against mental health professionals speaking out. As a self-aggrandizing narcissist will, Rudy superciliously lectured me on the Goldwater “rule” as if he knew more about ethics in my profession than I do. If he had asked my opinion, I could have shared that as a psychologist I don’t have to comply with the Goldwater “rule” and we have volumes more evidence on Trump than we get on patients, yet we diagnose patients every day after a 50-minute interview. I could have spoken on our actual ethical and legal “duty to warn and protect” the public from dangerous individuals. Instead of addressing Trump’s severe mental health issues that make him unfit, Rudy deflected to a straw man argument — such a handy tactic when you know you are wrong.
- Overall, Rudy’s tone and attitude were “holier-than-thou” and lacking in humility. He knew more than I did about everything and was not afraid to show it by his demeaning tone and language.
So, this conversation gave me further ample proof that people like Rudy who cling to the Trump cult at this point are exactly like Trump. They are narcissists, sociopaths and abusive personalities — Other-Blamers as I call them. Of course, in my phone calling and canvassing I have run across many other Trumpers with this same personality. They escalate to expressing rage toward me so fast that you’d think I was threatening them with a gun and screaming at them. This rage is a secondary emotional reaction to shame — feeling humiliated, likely because they voted for Trump and are now embarrassed by that fact. Yet rather than engage in contrition or accountability, they react with unthinking, defensive anger toward me or others. The above conversational tactics are all ways to help them feel better about themselves and avoid shame and accountability.
I will report that earlier that day a gentleman out mowing his lawn talked to me and admitted, with remorse, that he and his wife voted for Trump in 2016 and would be supporting Joe Biden and Democrats this time. He could be accountable for his poor judgment four years ago and move forward with dignity. We had a calm, reasonable conversation about the issues and candidates and left on very good terms.
In contrast, watching Rudy’s behavior confirmed that his goal was not to relate or even debate someone on a fair footing. His only goal was to avoid shame and accountability.
All his communication tactics were aimed at avoiding being humiliated. To do this he humiliated me. These are also Trump’s goals in relationships. And exactly the goal of narcs and sociopaths. They have such low self-worth that they feel they must demean others to feel good about themselves. Additionally, this causes their victims to hesitate to challenge them in the future.
The communication tactics are perfectly parallel and obvious in both Rudy and Trump: lack of accountability, lack of reciprocity, lack of kindness, lying, gaslighting, deflecting, dominating, baiting, tricking, manipulating, dismissing, belittling, demeaning, straw man arguments, verbal abuse, etc, etc.
So, we can conclude very easily that Rudy supports Trump because he is exactly the same type of personality as PINO. Both are Other-Blamers who stubbornly cling to their false beliefs because to admit they were wrong is too shameful. Rudy votes for Trump because he subconsciously values Trump’s narcissistic behaviors and, in fact, wants the impunity to behave just as Trump does.
I’m sure Rudy is sitting home tonight smugly thinking he “owned a lib”. Well, Rudy, this desire to dominate others just proves my point again. For your future self-reflection, perhaps instead of striving to humiliate people you converse with, you could approach relationships with tolerance, kindness and patience.
And, yes, I know I am putting myself at risk of retaliation by this neighbor. But if he retaliates I also know this will further prove my point that he is an insecure, shame-intolerant, rage-driven narcissist who cannot be proven wrong. I also firmly believe that they only way to counteract narcissists and sociopaths is to hold them accountable. If Trump had been held accountable more in his life, we wouldn’t have to deal with the worlds’ most dangerous man in the world’s most powerful job.