I’m writing this in the week after the 2016 U.S. election, at a time when many Democrats are still in shock at the election of Donald Trump as the country’s new President.
Yes, this was a close election – though the brief research I did about the elections post-2000 shows that the 2004 election (Bush vs. Kerry – remember the recount of Florida ballots?) was actually closer. I only began to take vested interest in elections after 2000, but it seems to me that our country has been getting more and more avid on both sides. Which means that there is elation on the winning side, and a sense of devastation on the losing side. As I say, I only began caring in the past 16 years, so perhaps it was this noticeable before then. If so, please feel free to post a comment about which years prior to 2000 were particularly heated.
When the 2016 race narrowed to Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, like many others I was surprised. A man with no political experience whatsoever had captured the nomination of the Republican party. Hillary Clinton, of course, has decades of experience from Governor’s wife, to NY State Senator, to First Lady, to Secretary of State. One could see that, aside from the change of being our country’s first woman president were she elected, she was a “status quo” candidate.
Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, to me, was deeply disturbing. Despite harangues against minorities of our country’s population and immigrants, constant insults and fear-provoking comments made towards Hillary Clinton, disrespectful insider conversations about his own sexual behavior with women, and positions that earned him the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan, he attracted throngs of passionate supporters. Supporters who were even willing to engage in violence, to which he offered no rebuke. Yet, for all the passion in his speeches, he offered little in terms of what direction he would steer our country or what plans he had for “making American great again.”
That said, he snagged the election. Democrats were stunned. How could this happen? Had our nation completely lost its mind? Yes, Donald Trump represents change by virtue of not being a career -- or even, like President Obama -- a relatively new politician. That said, President Obama’s campaign was all about change, also – yet it had a very different feel to it.
I know there are many sorting through all the demographics and history, etc… in attempt to explain what happened in this 2016 election. I will take a more psychological approach. Donald Trump, in all his glory, epitomized our nation’s Shadow side.
For those not familiar with the concept of the Shadow, here is part of Wikipedia’s definition (11/12/16):
In Jungian psychology, the shadow or "shadow aspect" may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. Thus, there can be positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one's shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem).. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." According to Jung, the shadow can be related to psychological projection, in which an unrecognized personal inferiority is seen as a moral deficiency in someone else.
What does this mean? It may sound like mumbo-jumbo to many of you. Basically it means that the things we don’t like about ourselves go underground in the layers of our consciousness. We’ll start to deny these unwanted aspects of ourselves to others, and it doesn’t take long until we don’t acknowledge them to ourselves, either. And where the projection comes in is that, while we don’t like to own these attributes in ourselves, we are very sensitive when it comes to seeing them in others!
An example? Suppose you know someone who you would consider cheap. He (or she) hates to spend money on anything and consistently criticizes anything that costs a lot of money. And yet they honestly don’t see this quality in themself. If you try to subtly ask, “Don’t you think you’re being a little tight with the checkbook here?” you’ll probably get an angry retort to the effect of anyone would balk at paying such a price for the item in question, and no, they certainly are not a cheapskate!
The projection will come in to play with this person constantly bemoaning how cheap everyone else is, what’s this world coming to?
OK, you say, but this definition refers to an individual’s personality and doesn’t say anything about a group or national essence. Yes, that’s true -- however, Jung, among the major 20th century analysts, also believed in a “collective unconscious.” This is the unconscious storehouse of the shadow material of a group of people -- and can thus be applied to a nation.
More on that to come…
Susan C. Moyer, MSW
Is a sound healer and transformational coach. She has 25+ years experience in using alternate states of consciousness to access deeper healing on all levels: physical, psychological, mental and spiritual.