Opinion

HUDSON | Narcissism of the Trump variety doesn’t sell in Colorado

Author: Miller Hudson - August 2, 2018 - Updated: August 1, 2018

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Miller Hudson

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychological Science attempted to estimate the collective sense of narcissism shared in each state. The primary measure of perceived self-importance asked residents what percentage of American history was primarily shaped by their own state? Collectively, these estimates totaled a whopping 907%. One of the researchers, Henry Roediger of Washington University in St. Louis observed, “The question we asked is crazy in one sense, because there is no correct answer, but it told us a lot about people and what they believe about themselves. We thought the numbers would be high, but not this high.”

As you might expect, with the exception of Maryland, the remaining 12 original colonies evince a daunting degree of self-confidence — led by Virginia and Delaware. Delaware? C’mon guys, we have Colorado counties bigger than Delaware.

With much of the Midwest and West ruled under foreign flags at the time of the American Revolution, it should not be surprising that most of these states today score far lower on the researchers’ Narcissism Index, which compares self-reported prominence against ratings from fellow Americans. Lest we forget, General Fremont’s exploratory party was arrested and jailed by Mexican troops at Salida on Christmas Day of 1804. Colorado is tied with Iowa and Mississippi at 1% on the index, while only Washington comes in with a lower score at -1%. (It must be those nine months of drizzle that create this negative self-concept.)

As I attempt to understand why Colorado maintains such a modest appraisal, I recall an explanation offered by the painter Georgia O’Keefe, a native New Yorker, when she was asked why she had fled to a self-imposed exile in Abiqui, New Mexico. “It is a world with more sky than land,” she replied. O’Keefe was on to something, I think. If you’ve climbed a 14er, there is a daunting sense of immensity as you stare out across a hundred miles of geography in every direction.

Keeping one’s ego in proportion with the grandeur of nature isn’t difficult. Even our vast deserts offer instruction in the sheer tenacity of life and its unceasing drive for survival. Having spent several years growing up along the East Coast of our continent, I am always surprised upon returning at how cloistered my line of sight is. Trees create tunnels of the roads and rarely can you see more than a few hundred yards. Vistas are rare.

I also suspect that Colorado’s apparent humility explains several things about our politics. Admittedly, all politicians have to score well in terms of self-confidence and self-esteem. Yet, in the 40-plus years I’ve been involved in Colorado election campaigns, voters have never elevated a flaming narcissist to high office. As close as we may have come might be former Congressman Tom Tancredo, but even Tom, upon closer inspection, has a sense of humor about himself, a love for Colorado and is a thought-provoking adversary. We are personal friends — not only can he laugh, he can laugh at himself. We served together in the legislature where he bragged about being a “House crazy” but remained shrewd enough to cross the aisle on principle.

All this probably helps explain why Donald Trump is such a hard political sell in Colorado. We tolerate braggarts; immigrant gazillionaires who want to tell us how to run our affairs and even Californian Doug Bruce — in small doses. But Trump’s narcissism seemingly crosses over into recurrent pathology. Even Colorado Republicans overwhelmingly preferred Ted Cruz, no slouch in terms of self-regard, over Trump. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by a president who hails from New York, which scored a muscular 31% estimate of its historical importance. But, if we want a closer dose of inexplicable chest thumping, I would recommend a quick trip to Wyoming where its half million residents awarded themselves an impressive 18%.

In a second study that extended this research to 195 nations, Russians captured first place with an estimation of their contribution to world history clocking in at a jaw dropping 61%. Little surprise then that our president may feel he has discovered a soul mate in Vladimir Putin. If memory serves, however, weren’t Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun and Tamerlane tromping atop the Russian steppes for the better part of a millennium?

Washington’s “inside the beltway” egotists seem to believe flyover country springs out of bed each morning and immediately turns its rapt attention to their peccadilloes. Truth be told, we can go weeks at a time without a wasted worry about their sandbox antics. It’s far more fun to search brewpubs for a better IPA.

Miller Hudson

Miller Hudson

Miller Hudson is a public affairs consultant and a former state legislator. He can be reached at mnhwriter@msn.com.