Trump’s Moral World-View

Strict Father Morality (SFM) (based on the research of Dr. George Lakoff, UC Berkley): Results in Moral Strength which requires one to stand up to evil, and have self-discipline to engage evil; MS sees the world in terms of a war of good against the forces of evil & must be fought ruthlessly.  In the SFM, moral strength is of the highest order.  Moral weakness leads to welfare, teenage sex, and illegal drugs. We all start morally weak, and we need a strong parent to discipline us, so we won’t become immoral.  SFM subsumes moral authority, retribution, moral order, moral boundaries, moral essence, moral purity, & self-defense. Reward and punishment. Competition.
Nurturant Parent Morality (NPM) (based on Dr. George Lakoff’s research): Essence of NPM is caring, being cared for, caring about, and deriving meaning from mutual interaction and care. Open, two-way communication is key to NPM. Protection is a form of caring. Children are respected, nurtured and communicated with from birth on.  Empathy, happiness, and learning to take of care of themselves, creative and fair–essential elements of NPM.  Morality as empathy.  Learning to experience what it is to be in someone else’s shoes.  I feel for you. Morality as nurturance, compassion, self-nurturance, social nurturance, happiness, fair distribution, moral growth, moral strength to nurture, restitution, evolution as nuturance. 

Trump’s Moral World-View

Trump does have a moral world view, and using the research of George Lakoff, retired Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, we will explore moral world view of Trump.

We start with two of his favorite conspiracy theories.

  • Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to serve their economic interests.
  • President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

We’ve  heard Donald Trump repeat these ideas for nearly a decade. Trump’s world-view allows these beliefs to hold true (to him). Even with contravening evidence that the Chinese didn’t invent the idea of global warming or that President Obama was born in Hawaii, which is in the United States, Trump still believes in these two ideas.  He holds on to these ideas because his brain is planned to resist new ideas.  He infuriates many around him with his lies and proclivity for conspiracy theories to “back up” his ideas.  Although many people deal with the world in a similar way, no Oval Office Occupant comes close to living in the world of denial, misrepresentation of facts, and fantasies that he is the only one that can solve “our” problems.

Some would say he is the archetype  science denier.  I am not just speaking about climate change, but nearly all the policy decisions that should rely on logic, science research, and wisdom.  These are missing from Trump’s brain.

So, this question should not surprise you: Why would he reject the facts that have been agreed up by scientist and citizens in all but two counties (3 now that the US pulled out of Paris Agreement).   He is boxed in to the racist and isolationist concept of “America First,” as are all of his cabinet appointees.  Sometimes when I hear them speak, the I am amazed at how they are able to join the selfish and unrealistic policy that under scores the “America First” notion.  Yesterday, Niki Halley was a master explaining why global climate change was not an American issue, and that getting out of the Paris Accord was to protect the American people. America didn’t get a good deal.

This is such a f****** lie.

For nearly a decade Trump promoted the “birther” falsehood, even with photos and documents proving Obama is a citizen of the US. Obama actually showed a video of his birth at a Washington Correspondents Dinner.

Trump flew around the US in his airplane, landing in places like New Hampshire, announcing once again that he knows that President Obama is an illegal immigrant and was not born in this country and he shouldn’t be the President.  His “birther” notion was racist, and appealed to a sizable part of the electorate, and Trump, for more than five years, “fanned this racist conspiracy theory.” Even when he was forced to say that Obama was born in America, he turned and blamed the idea on Hillary Clinton—which is not true.  But it’s another clear example of how this guy operates by twisting and turning, and as he walks away with a smirk on his face, he’s giving you the finger.

Trump is like a wounded tiger.  He knows he lost the election to Hillary Clinton.  More people voted for her than him and he is pissed.

Indeed, he’s a loser.  He lost by more than 3 million votes.  He doesn’t like to be a loser.  Remember, in Trump’s world, we are either winners or losers, good or bad, virtuous or evil.  So, now he’s in the loser category.  In fact, not as many people showed up at his inauguration as for Obama’s first one, a fact he fought, even to today by creating a crack committee to investigate election fraud.

Trump’s insisted that 3 million illegal immigrants votes fraudulently in the election, and that’s why lost the popular vote. Thus the need for the crack committee.

The election fraud conspiracy is no different from any other of Trump’s conspiracies: Obama wire tapped the Trump Tower phones, Immigrants from Mexico are rapists, drug dealers, and criminals; The sale of German-made cars is bad for America.  It goes on and on.

Moral View of Donald Trump

Trump’s moral world view is based on Lakoff’s “Strict Father Morality” (SFM) a metaphor for a world-view that emerges from an authoritarian family with a strict father as the head.  From early childhood on, Trump learned and practiced, in a reward and punishment family environment how to conceptualize the world as a fight against evil, and to alway fight ruthlessly against the enemy.  For Trump, there are no limits to truth, because in the end its his goal to always come out on top, to do the deal, to win, to use retribution, and never be open to apologizing or empathizing with others, or their views.

For Trump, those who show empathy toward others is weak, and should not be in leadership positions.  Instead of showing some  form of caring toward the British people over the past two weeks after they endured three terror attacks, he picked a fight with the mayor of London, and said that the Justice Department should have submitted the original order to ban Muslims to the Supreme Court.

His Tweets expose his moral world view.  The archetype of the Strict Father Morality, Mr. Trump shocks with Tweets.  Saying things like “Comey better be careful; there may be tapes of his conversations,” or “pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadie Khan who had to think fast on this “no reason to be alarmed” statement.

Trump moral view is narcissistic and because he thinks he is the most important person, he undermines himself by undermining his colleagues and staff.  We’ve never seen the lying that characterizes press conferences conducted by his staff or himself.  His moral view has diffused into the minds of his cabinet members, and we see them  trying to explain actions taken such as dropping us out of the Paris Agreement, or the Muslim travel ban.

Trump does have morals, but they are based on a world view that see a dangerous world, and one that requires him to fight this evil.  He won’t change, and see that there are alternative ways of seeing the world.  Even when provided with scientific research on climate change, he resorts to hitting the messenger, and ignoring what was presented.  It appears, also, that he prefers not to seek professional advice within the American government, but instead prefers to watch Fox News for tweeting and forming policy.

The way to “fight” Trump is through collaboration, and protests that are based on a different world view.  This world view is nicely described by Lakoff as the Nurturant Parent Morality (NPM)

The essence of collaboration and protests is caring, and deriving meaning through mutual interaction.  The Ariana Grande memorial concert in Manchester yesterday is the example that we are looking for.  Listening to the ordinary citizens that came out, a day after the attacks in London, to bear witness to the caring and love of the people in Manchester.  Empathy for others, compassion, and resolve are the characteristics that will always elude Donald Trump.

We mustn’t stoop to his level.  As Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we go high.

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.