As a woman and mother of girls, I have been disturbed and horrified by Donald Trump’s responses to women, publicly. I have found him inconsistent, incoherent and at times unbelievable, in his attitude to science, economics, foreign policy... the list goes on. He is a man who is hard to like.
And yet he has done something that many people thought impossible. Sure he has money and influence, but he has done something else too. He connected with millions of people. Millions of women. Millions of older people. Millions of Hispanics. Millions of people in groups he had directly and publicly insulted. He connected so deeply with a part of their identity that they could put the rest aside.
Just stay with that for a moment: put the rest aside. And like the stone in the pond, the ripples of that, mean that that dissonance becomes division. So holding onto your charismatic leader means you then have to put aside more and more. You have to stay separate. It's a huge cost and yet human beings are prepared to pay.
Because here's the rub: most people want to be inspired, want to be lifted out of the humdrum routine of existence, want a simple answer to a complex problem, want to feel part of a group, want to win over someone else. Most of us, most of the time. Me too.
And I can tell you from my clinical work that despite great training and awesome colleagues, the real thing I have to offer those I work with is my personal risk. The small things I can do to reach them. Donald Trump took a huge risk, over and over again. He went for what was emotionally hottest and said the unsayable. He stood up for what some people saw as their needs, in the face of the whole establishment. And that is truly compelling.
How he can deliver on that, remains to be seen. And I wonder if he can connect with more people in more ways? There have been articles that have understandably drawn parallels with some of the most terrifying and powerful men in history. And I have felt fear. And out of that is emerging a question: what can I do?
Perhaps what I can do is share this? Perhaps what I can do is hold in mind that many of his supporters, support him in part. That many of them are in need of connection and solutions and something new. And that is what I want too. We are together on that.
Many business investors expect a 3 or 4-fold return on their investment. I wonder whether Donald Trump, like many before him, have underestimated the return that his followers will expect. Because followers should humble you. And motivate you. Followers are a call to action. I feel it in therapy when a client make a change, a commitment, sees it in a new way. It's a call to me to step up. To match their strength and bravery and hope. To see further and hold on longer and reach higher. Not in a competitive way but a generative way.
I want to find a we. And we will change things for the better. We will ask more of each other. Meet each other with our real faces. Support each other in ways that are respectful and careful. We will see the light in each other. We will appreciate the gifts and talents that others have. We will make purposeful activity for more people. We will find a way.