The crystal-clear waters of the river Styx are where Narcissus sunk to his demise driven by his own vanity. He loved himself so much that he disregarded all else, and his egocentricity was so powerful that he was blind to death’s approach. He saw his handsome reflection in the river’s waters and leaned so far in to kiss it that he fell in a drowned.
The mythology behind Narcissus was also present in the US elections. The republican candidate, Donald Trump, is the leader of modern narcissism. He spent his entire life trying to paint it with triumphalism and has built a successful personality that has exceeded his expectations. Richer than everyone, smarter than everyone, everything around me that doesn’t think like me is third world, and any rival bold enough to overshadow me will be mocked into disgrace. That has been Trump’s way of thinking since he began his presidential bid. He displayed flagrant examples of this style of leadership when he ridiculed the Arizona senator, John McCain, in 2018 for opposing the idea of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA. Another more recent example were his disparaging remarks aimed at his democratic rival Joe Biden, who he caricaturized for his age with phrases like Sleepy Joe and Joe for resident.
It didn’t matter to Trump, were his opponent younger or a woman, nothing would have stopped his narcissism from viciously lashing out at whoever dared to stand in the way of his reelection. And he has already mocked the vice president’s name. Once again Trump thought: there is no one on the other side nor any idea that’s more worthy than mine. Not even the best player in the NBA, Lebron James, could escape his contempt.
And yet, reality is often looming over narcissistic leaders ready to strike them in the beloved ego. Arizona was one of the most problematic states for Trump. Senator McCain’s wife unequivocally supported Joe Biden Last Friday, Lebron James posted on Twitter “My Philly fam! FOE and more THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!” The urban Philadelphia vote tipped the election scales in Biden’s favor.
It is obvious that narcissists, who see winning as the only possible option, are unable to admit that someone, always inferior, has defeated them. They cannot go down in history as losers, which is why Donald Trump has launched this campaign hurling accusations of fraud, cheating, and anything else he can think of to undermine his opponent’s victory. The problem is that this manipulation drags masses of people out into the streets not to defend an idea, but rather the vanity of their leader.
Democracy has handed down its verdict, the meticulously counted and carefully verified votes have expelled the Narcissist from Olympus and replaced him with a man who has been beaten down by life with the loss of his wife and two of his children; it seems that justice has been served now that 78 year-old Biden will have the chance to go down in history as a winner while the man who only knows about winning will be written into history as a loser.
Biden is calling for unity, rethinking ideas, and peace in the streets; he speaks in a simple straightforward manner, far from his opponent’s crude discourse, and is presenting the world with a new way of understanding reality from humility and freedom.
Democracy prevailed over Narcissism.
Moisés Ruiz is professor of Leadership in the Grado de Administración y Dirección de Empresas