Home Politics The Atlantic Politics Daily: A Psychologist’s Theory on Trump’s Appeal – The Atlantic

The Atlantic Politics Daily: A Psychologist’s Theory on Trump’s Appeal – The Atlantic

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It’s Monday, December 2. The Supreme Court heard arguments for the first gun-rights case in a decade (the fact that it even took on this case may prove consequential).

In today’s newsletter: borrowing from the field of psychology, a fascinating theory on Trump’s unwavering base. Plus, John Kerry’s World War Zero.

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« TODAY IN POLITICS »

(Louisa Bertman)

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Of all the Trump-isms regularly quoted today, perhaps none has proved more prescient than the president’s own 2016 boast about his rock-solid support.

1. It’s all about his base.

Unlike all modern presidents, President Donald Trump’s approval rating hasn’t cracked 50 percent since he took office.

But among those who voted for him in 2016, upwards of 90 percent are still on board the Trump Train.

My colleague Peter Nicholas, one of our White House reporters, has heard firsthand from the president’s supporters on this seemingly unassailable appeal.

“You ask what appeals to me [about Trump],” one 47-year-old business owner told Peter at a July rally in North Carolina. “The easiest way to say it: everything. Everything about him.”

“Everyone loves our president,” the chief executive officer of My Pillow told Peter at an October rally in Minnesota. “Some just don’t know yet it.”

2. It’s … not all about his base.

Playing only to the base might not be the most politically astute gambit for Trump in 2020, Ron Brownstein writes.

Around 16 to 19 percent of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, but still disapprove of his overall job performance.

This voting bloc could be key to whether Trump wins another term.

3. Can understanding how narcissists attract—and then repel—people help explain Trump’s relationship with his base?

The psychologist Dan P. McAdams has a new theory for why Trump’s base has never abandoned him—even as the president cycles through advisers and Cabinet members more quickly than predecessors:

The millions of American voters who adore the president do not have to interact with him directly.

Unlike the White House staff, they do not have to endure Trump’s incendiary outbursts or kowtow to his unpredictable whims. As anonymous members of a television audience, they can gaze upon their hero from afar.

The full piece is full of fascinating research. Read it here.

—Saahil Desai

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« SNAPSHOT »

(Bryan Snyder / Reuters)

Joe Biden makes a stop today at a cafe in Emmetsburg, Iowa as part of his new “No Malarkey” bus tour. (Need a refresher on the origins of Biden and “malarkey?”)

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« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn (Jim Bourg / Reuters)

It’s a big week for impeachment as the inquiry wends its way to the House Judiciary Committee. Here’s where sparks might fly.

1. Experts are now eyeing the relationship between Trump and the Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court is a check on executive power—but the conservative majority on the current bench has been reluctant to break with Trump, Ron Brownstein writes, leaving one man in a central (pun intended) position.

2. Will Robert Mueller return?

Didn’t mean to startle you—we mean, return in the form of details from his 448-page multipart report, released earlier this year.

The Judiciary Committee will have to decide how much of the special counsel’s findings to include in its final recommendation for impeachment, setting up a “question of goals of [Jerry] Nadler, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic caucus,” Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic write.

3. Have the normally forceful forces of subpoenas lost their bite?

Among the evidence Democrats are using to build a possible obstruction of justice charge against Trump is his office’s extensive use of executive privilege to defy Congressional subpoenas.

“The House should fight hard for access to the full story about the president’s Ukraine shenanigans,” Kim Wehle argues, “and not let the executive branch win by default.”

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« EVENING READ »

(Hamilton / Rea / Redux)

The former secretary of state has been at the forefront of major climate negotiations around the world, from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

He’s now taking another approach: a new bipartisan, celebrity-studded climate initiative called World War Zero.

Kerry spoke with our climate writer Robinson Meyer about 2020 and the work left to be done on climate change:

The fact that emissions are going up in the United States, they’re going up in Europe, they’re going up in China, they’re going up in India, they’re going up in countless countries in the world, that is just—I could use an expletive, but it’s really unacceptable. It’s outrageous.

Read what Kerry said would set his new organization apart.

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Today’s edition of our daily newsletter of political ideas and arguments was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on our politics desk, and Christian Paz, a politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang.

You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com.

Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

Saahil Desai is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers politics and policy.
Christian Paz is an editorial fellow at The Atlantic.

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