I wanted to be a psychologist as a kid, but ended up a copywriter.
Because of my job, I’m something like a rogue psychologist. No I’m not saying it’s the same, so for anyone thinking I’m saying that—stop. My job is to get into the hearts and minds of people and get them to do things, think things, and buy things. It takes a dash of science, and a pound of empathy. It’s exhausting, having deep, emotional conversations with people who only exist in your mind. But that’s how I do it, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m an INFJ on the Myers–Briggs thing.
Anyway, to do what I do requires that I invent scenarios where an “other” in my mind engages me in dialogue and I can feel what they feel. [Please don’t call the mental hospital. It’s a paid skill.]
On Tuesday night, after the family had resigned themselves to the loss and retired to their beds, I started thinking about Donald Trump and what must be going through his mind.
I put aside my disdain for this man and decided to crawl inside of his head. It wasn’t easy. I had to hack my way through tangled fields of preconception, and years of careful branding from his use of the media for basically my whole adult life. It would be really easy to label him as a bigot bigmouth (which I’ve done in public) and miss my mark.
So I got real quiet and saw him there—alone in an apartment. His back was to me. He was looking out a window over New York City. On the other side of the room was a television airing the election results. He was going to win.
Only, he could hardly believe it.
He started this thing because he was bored. And sure, to gain the highest office in the world. His ego was something he accepted long ago. But he knew how politics worked, and he knew that the odds were stacked against him. So he decided to throw his hat in the ring and cause a fuss to see if he could shake some things up. He’s a fighter. Sure, he’s also a dick, but he’s a fighter first and so he propelled himself at the status-quo with jaws gnashing. And people responded. He felt their need for a leader and began saying things that they wanted to hear. It was easy. He didn’t need any real policies, he just needed to hit the heart of his audience with resonant sound bites. Make America Great Again was the stroke of genius. So simple. So resonant. So hopeful. And yet a powerful call to action. The debates were a debacle and he couldn’t wait for them to conclude. Debates weren’t his strongest venue. He worked best in the fields of Iowa, the coal mines of West Virginia, and the strip malls of Florida where he could say anything he wanted without repercussion from the liberal media. He was a celebrity. He made big, audacious promises. And people loved him.
And here he was alone in his apartment watching the lights of the busy city below. He was about to be named President of the United States of America.
His heart raced. What had he done? He had no idea how to feel at this moment. Sure, there was some pride there—jumping for joy in the corner of his heart. But what he was feeling at this moment wasn’t pride. It was something he’d never felt before.
It was the humbling anvil of awe.
He was going to be the President of the United States of America.
He wasn’t prepared for this. Despite the long and arduous campaign.
And during this moment, alone with his thoughts, the weight of this responsibility floored him. Sure, he had a plan, but it was mostly rhetoric to mobilize people to vote. Hell, at one point during the campaign he felt completely out of control, feeding on the frenzy of people who desperately wanted positive change in their lives. He was simply telling them what they wanted to hear.
Could he actually deliver that change?
Could he build a wall? Should he?
Could he give desperate people jobs they’d lost a decade before?
And in this moment, he doubted himself. Then he doubted his entire motive for wanting to be in this position.
But here he was.
And the awesome responsibility of the role was sinking in.
He had to change. That was the only way. Not completely, of course, but just enough. He had to put away the hardline stance he used to divide the nation and light a fire under his constituency. He was now the leader of the free world. He was responsible for 300 million people, many of whom he stepped on to get to where he was now.
There was a knock at the door. An aide popped his head in, “Mr. Trump, it’s time to face the media.”
“Give me another minute,” he replied, and the aide shut the door.
Donald Trump then looked to the heavens. They were still and steady, a world away from the chaos on the street below.
I totally get it that you can’t believe this person was elected President. I sincerely believe that on Tuesday night he couldn’t believe it either.
And I feel your anger. But I have some faith that the role will change the man. He is a human being, after all, and he’s subject to the same feelings as the rest of us.
I’ve read that the Presidency changes men. That when they find themselves alone in the Oval Office, a spirit sweeps over them. I am confident that this spirit will change Donald Trump.
At least for a little while.
And if not, we will fight him. Because up until Tuesday night Donald Trump answered to no one. But now he answers to us. Don’t forget that.