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Trump and His Power of Positive Thinking

Mike has a keen interest in the effects of politics in our culture. He has a unique way of simplifying complex concepts.

"The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale.

"The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale.

Literary Influence

Have you ever wondered why Trump re-frames everything that is negative about himself into something positive to benefit him? I just finished reading Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Not Enough.

On pages 37 and 38, she talks about Norman Vincent Peale and a book he wrote in the early '50s called, The Power of Positive Thinking and how it influenced Donald Trump and his father, Fred Trump. The proceeding paragraphs are mixed with passages from her book and my own thoughts and other noted sources. This confirms to me how Trump uses his Power of Positive Thinking to play in his fantasy world of being our president so that his actions ultimately only benefit him.

Norman Vincent Peale

Peale, a minister who “preached self-confidence as a life philosophy,” according to Politico, wrote the best-selling self-help book The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952. It has since been translated into 15 languages and has sold more than seven million copies.

Donald Trump was only six when the book was released. Mary says:

"Donald’s Father was immediately drawn to Peale’s teachings. So much so that his family joined the author’s church, Marble Collegiate, in midtown Manhattan."

Donald was later married to his first wife, Ivana, there in 1977.

Though Peale had a massive following, he also had critics. According to Politico, Peale was known as “God’s Salesman” and called a con man because “his simple-minded approach shut off genuine thinking or insight.”

Trump, Ivana, Peale, and wife at his 90th birthday party

Trump, Ivana, Peale, and wife at his 90th birthday party

Norman Vincent Peale's Doctrine

Peale’s doctrine proclaimed ". . . you need only self-confidence to prosper in the way God wants you to be. Obstacles are simply not permitted to destroy your happiness and well-being. You need be defeated only if you are willing to be."

Fred Trump’s View and How It Affected Donald

That view confirmed what Fred already thought: He was rich because he deserved to be. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! . . . A sense of inferiority and inadequacy interferes with the attainment of your hopes, but self-confidence leads to self-realization and successful achievement." Self-doubt wasn’t part of Fred’s makeup, and wrote,

“It is appalling to realize the number of pathetic people who are hampered and made miserable by the malady popularly called the inferiority complex.

"Peale’s proto-prosperity gospel actually complemented the scarcity mentality Fred continued to cling to. For him, it was not the more you have, the more you can give. It was the more you have the more, the more you have. Financial worth was the same as self-worth and monetary value was human value. The more Fred Trump had, the better he was. If he gave something to someone else, that person would be worth more and he less. He would pass this attitude on to Donald in spades.”

Source: Too Much and Never Enough, page 38

Applying Trump's Positive Thinking to His Actions

I believe this is why Trump always takes negative reality and changes it to positive fantasy because he believes that sooner or later his power of positive thinking will prevail. That’s why he fires people who don’t agree with his positive fantasy agendas or he puts them out to pasture, like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. That’s why he calls global warming a Chinese hoax.

That’s why he tells us the virus isn’t that bad and is going to disappear. That’s why he wants to send teachers and students back to school, regardless of the risk. That’s why he leaves press conferences where they ask him about his lying. He sees that as an obstruction to his fantasy of positive thinking. That’s why he wants his face on Mount Rushmore. It’s not a whim. He is deadly serious about it. That’s why he holds his rallies with his supporters. He loves the positive feedback they give him. He also needs that adoration to feed his hidden, very low self-esteem.

Trump as President

If you look at Trump as president, you can see that he uses this in his everyday coping with negative situations. He will always re-frame everything so it is positive and will not let the negative reflect on him. You can especially see this scenario in action in his dealing with the virus. That is why he says it is under control and getting better when everybody in the country knows that is not true.

False Expert

For his supporters, it gives them the feeling that he is a very confident person. He gives them the impression that he knows more than the experts, when in fact he doesn’t. He will not allow himself to think negatively about anything, to the point of lying to everybody. This technique protects him from others who do not think like him. That’s why he uses superlative adjectives all the time. Those exaggerations appear very positive to his supporters.

Trump's Rotating Staff

If others in his staff do not agree with his positive thinking positions, he will just fire them until he finds someone who does agree with him. In his mind, it is totally justified. He believes that sooner or later he will win. This might have been true as a real estate broker, but with this virus, we are dealing with real people, not inanimate high-rise buildings and casinos.

Justifying His Actions

He puts his name on everything just like his father did. It does not surprise me that he wants his picture carved into Mount Rushmore. In his mind, that is not a crazy whim. He is dead serious about it. Sending the kids back to school while the virus is still active is another one of the positive thinking scenarios that he thinks will work. He doesn’t care how many people it puts at risk because what he has been taught about positive thinking justifies his actions.

Adulation and Admiration

I believe Trump must be fed a steady diet of adulation and admiration. Qanon has been deemed a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI. Trump endorsed Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won her GOP House primary runoff in Georgia last week. Greene called the QAnon conspiracy theory “something worth listening to and paying attention to and called Q a “patriot.” Trump praised her as a, “Future Republican Star and said, She also says very nice things about me."

This is how I see our president in action using his positive thinking in ways that are dangerous to our country and our well-being.

Sources

  • CNBC, "How self-help author Norman Vincent Peale influenced Donald Trump"
  • Politico, "Donald Trump 2016: How Norman Vincent Peale Created Him," POLITICO Magazine
  • Too Much and Never Enough, Mary Trump
  • The Boston Globe

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Mike Russo