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Hello from the Lincoln Project and welcome back. I'm Ron Stessel. On today's episode, I'm speaking with Mary Trump, who is the author of Too Much and Never Enough How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. Mary is a graduate of Tufts and Columbia Universities, and she holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies. And she's also Donald Trump's niece, Mary. Thank you so much for being on the show today. You are the first Trump to come on the Lincoln Project podcast and probably will be the only and last.
So thank you for being here.
I think that's a totally safe bet. It's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Why don't we just start with the book and why you wrote it? Why why now? And as both the president's niece and a clinical psychologist, can you talk a little bit about what compelled you to write this book and and to do it right now? First of all, it couldn't have happened before the election in 2016 because, first of all, there wouldn't have been time. It's really funny. When the book came out, people actually assumed I'd written it the week before.
You know, it's a very long process. And secondly, I had no belief at all that this horrible thing would happen. It just never occurred to me that he had a shot. So and besides, nobody would have listened to me. I didn't think at the time. So I started thinking about it seriously in twenty eighteen, after I had become a source for that extraordinary piece of investigative journalism that the Times published in October of twenty eighteen, which, in the words of Sue Craig, an amazing journalist, said would rewrite the financial history of the Trump family, which I believe it did.
So I had something concrete to hang on to, which I did not have in 2016 because I had entirely forgotten that I had the documents that helped them with the article. You know, those 40000 pages that had been sitting in my former lawyer's warehouse somewhere. So it was nice to have something to point to. It's not just my word. You know, I actually have proof of something.
And then, you know, it's it's not that I needed him to do anything worse than he'd done before, starting with at least in the context of politics, starting with the racist birther ism and his, you know, comments about Mexicans from the very beginning.
You know, it was clear to me that he was unfit and I didn't need him to do any more awful things to motivate me.
But now he had power and he was implementing things like the Muslim Muslim then and most egregiously, the child separation and incarceration of the border and on and on and on. So by twenty eighteen, I felt like I didn't have a choice anymore.
I felt a real responsibility to help people understand things that they could not have understood in 2016, because it's not there was any anybody in his position has has the benefit of the bully pulpit and has a as a very big advantage in any election. Plus, Republicans have a built in advantage, you know, just institutionally because the Electoral College and other things.
So I'm I'm worried. And I felt like I needed to do whatever I could to help inform people in a way they could not have been four years ago.
Before we dig into the substance, I want to ask you what other factors you needed to consider before writing this. As a clinical psychologist, I know you've been critical of the Goldwater rule and and the others who have spoken out in this field in this way have cited the Tarasov rule. Can you for our listeners who maybe aren't familiar with the professional ethics of clinical psychology, can you talk about what you had to weigh and that process?
Well, I actually didn't have to say anything because I'm no longer practicing, so I haven't been in the field in a really long time.
So for me, the most important thing was that I get the psychology right, not simply because it was important as an explanatory tool, but because since I haven't been practicing for a very long time, I needed to convince people that they could take me seriously because I got it right. So but more broadly speaking, because I think this is a really big issue in general in the field of psychology and psychiatry when we're talking about seeing patients, their.
Is total confidentiality, except when you believe that the patient is a danger to him or herself or others, and then you have a duty to warn, which is what the Tarasoff rule is about, this is when a college student went to the university counseling center and told his therapist that he was going to kill his girlfriend. The therapist thought that he needed to maintain confidentiality. And then the guy actually did go and kill his girlfriend and the Tarasoff rules named after her.
And that's where the duty to warn comes from in terms of being a danger to self or others.
The APA, the American Psychiatric Association, seems to think that the Goldwater rule should still be in effect.
Obviously, Donald is nobody's patient. He never would be anybody's patient.
So I'm not entirely sure what the problem is with speaking to his behaviors.
And I think one of the problems with what the APA is that it's not the Goldwater. It's an expanded version of the Goldwater rule. The Goldwater rule, as far as I remember, was about diagnosing. And the APAs is now saying you just can't discuss, which is absurd. It's a different. Yeah. And, you know, I see I'm very careful in the book and in speaking to people not to diagnose Donald, I basically give people a general idea of his symptoms and how they could be applied.
But in the in the grand scheme of things, the diagnosis is irrelevant. You know, we need to be really concerned about his behaviors and how they're having an impact on other people. And what I find really troubling is that people speculate about his physical health all the time and the physical health of other public figures. I mean, I'm sure we all remember Hillary Clinton like semi fainting at a 9/11 memorial because she had the flu or pneumonia or something.
I mean, that was talked about endlessly. But quite honestly, any physical ailments Donald might have are significantly less dangerous to the populace than any psychiatric disorders he might have, especially if, you know, they lead to impulsive, irresponsible, unsympathetic behavior, which we see every day.
That's such a good point. It's not in our wheelhouse as an electorate to really evaluate that mental health or psychological health, even though candidates historically have always released their medical records or gotten a clean bill of health that we never really think to ask about mental fitness for the job. Do you think that's because there's still a stigma around mental health and talking about it?
And in general, I think, yes, because there's a stigma, but also in the West, maybe forever, I don't know, but for a very long time, bifurcated mental health and physical health, which is absurd because they're they're inextricably linked. Um, you know, if you have a depression, for example, and you have a terrible diet and you don't exercise, your depression is going to worsen, you know, so just as depression makes it harder to take care of your physical health.
So I think it's it's it's not only that there's the stigma, but also that it's not really considered important, which is just bizarre. But if you think about health care, health care in this country does not address mental health. And that's that's got to change. Let's talk about the book too much and never enough. You write about this in the book, but can you give our listeners a peek into why you titled the book? Too Much is never enough.
You know, the first thing I think of my family when I think about them is money. As a kid growing up and certainly as an adult, the sense was always that money was the only thing that mattered.
And not only that, but it it stood in for everything else. So in in a literal and figurative way, it was the only currency in the family it stood in for love, for affection, for respect, for acceptance. And because of that, you know, on the one hand, my family has too much money because nobody should have that much money and it doesn't seem to have done them much good. Right. On the other hand, because it stands in for these incredibly important emotional and psychological underpinnings that have never been felt for them in a substantive enough way.
They can never have enough of it because it's not actually what they really need. On the other hand, going way back and looking at their upbringing and specifically where my dad and Donald were concerned, it was very clear to me that this was an abusive household. And when you're talking about child abuse, there are two extremes, the too much is what my dad was subjected to, you know, too much expectation, too much boundary crossing in terms of, you know, being humiliated, ridiculed, punished.
So that's what my dad suffered from Donald, on the other hand, suffer from the not enough as a very young child, he was deprived of his mother because she was very ill when he was two and a half and nobody was either capable of or willing to take her place.
So since he didn't understand that she was ill and she didn't do it on purpose, he felt abandoned. So at that incredibly crucial developmental period, there was not enough affection, there was not enough soothing. There was not enough being seen or. Love, quite frankly, so I thought that the title worked really well and in in pointing to both of those things.
Yeah, so much of the book hinges on your grandfather, Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump. Early in the book, you call him a high functioning sociopath. Can you. Can you talk about speaking of love, can you talk about Fred's role in your family and what you think Donald learned from him?
Yeah, I mean, my grandfather was a family. You know, anything he said went and his opinion was the only one that mattered. And even for those of us who could not have cared less about, we were still always trying to please him in some way. My my aunt told me when she was in her late 70s that she still and this was almost 20 years after her father died, she still seeks his approval. You know, that's what a long shadow he cast.
And he was a sociopath. I believe that he was born one because I couldn't find any evidence at all that he had been I, you know, suffered any severe traumas. You know, he lost his dad when he was 13, 12 or 13. But that's you know, a lot of people lose their parents at an early age and and do just fine. Ultimately, he's his mother. He and his mother seem to be very close.
So, you know, I think he was just born with something crucial missing.
And if you extrapolate backwards from what he did to my dad, I think it's pretty safe to say that the man had no real human feeling and was purely interested in his own, um, you know, whatever he needed to make himself feel that he was successful or in charge of everything. And I think that is one of the lessons that Donna learned from him, was that you do whatever you need to do in order to quote unquote, win.
My grandfather treated the world and unfortunately his family as zero sum games. And in a zero sum game, only one person can win and everybody else loses.
Yeah. And if you're a loser, then you don't count for anything and it doesn't matter what happens to you. So Donald, who also knew, partially because my grandfather told him this explicitly, that he needed to be a tough guy and a killer for whatever reasons, I don't begin to understand. Got the message really on early on, especially by benefit of the age difference between him and my dad, my dad was seven and a half years older and Donald learned from what my grandfather did to Freddy not to be like Freddy.
And it just so happens that Freddy was kind and generous and smart and funny and had all these really cool interests outside of real estate, which was also a sin, according to my grandfather.
You mean interests outside of real estate? Yeah, I know. Shocking, right? Like who knew there was anything to be interested in outside of real estate?
Yeah, like he was a he was an exceptional, exceptional boatman and fisherman and ultimately pilot. And that was just like totally not understood. So Donald Donald got the message. Wow.
You know, this reminds me of a conversation I recently had with Alex Gibney and. Also, Alex is a renowned documentarian, as you know, and just released this new film on HBO called Agents of Chaos. And one of the things we discussed when we talked was how the Russian M.O. is, of course, the pursuit of power at all costs. And it seems to me this winning and losing zero sum game is really the indoctrination to that way of seeing the world is a precursor to playing for power at all costs at a much higher level.
Let me go back to Fred for a moment, because there's a passage when you write about Donald learning from how Fred treated your father, Freddie. When Freddie deviated from his father's expectations, he was humiliated or shamed and Donald started to take what he wanted to impress his father. You wrote he which Donald took what he wanted without asking for permission, not because he was brave, but because he was afraid not to. Can you say more about that dynamic that is taking what he wanted because of fear of his father previously and also how we see that now that Donald Trump is president?
Yeah, and this is, again, something he learned by example. When you look at the difference between how my Aunt Marianne and my dad fared in the family early on and how Daniel fared, it's extraordinary.
You know, they were both older, seven and a half and nine years older, respectively. And, you know, as soon as Marianne got married and as soon as my grandfather believed that my dad had betrayed him by leaving the business, which, by the way, my grandfather made it impossible for him to succeed and to become a professional pilot, he essentially washed his hands of them and they understood that asking for anything was considered unseemly.
And that included money, of course.
So, you know, Marianne was living in one of my grandfather's buildings, but her husband, who was an alcoholic and unemployable, couldn't make a living. So they you know, they lived in economic, economically uncertain circumstances, which, considering my grandfather, even back then, was worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
And by the way, both my dad and all of the children had trust funds, you know, with millions of dollars in them. But you couldn't ask because that made that meant that you were crossing a line, you know, because my grandfather didn't want anything from them. Right. So it wasn't an exchange. It was greedy. And, you know, my dad by the early 70s was living in this awful rundown apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, driving a beat up Ford led.
And then there's Donald with a chauffeur driven limousine and hanging out at LA Club and spending money like there was no end in sight. And keep in mind, all of that money was directly from my grandfather. It's not like Donald was earning it, you know. So that double standard was extraordinary.
And what Donald learned from that, you know, as you pointed out, he learned that not asking doesn't get you anywhere, you know, except, you know, Marianne seem to think that she got to keep her pride because she didn't ask for help, which is a very twisted way of looking at family. So, you know, Donald wasn't going to make that mistake because, you know, it didn't work out well, certainly didn't work out well for my dad.
And I think we see that reflected in his. Continued willingness to demand and expect things that he doesn't deserve. You know, and it starts from that myth that my grandfather told that Donald was successful and brilliant and did it all on his own. That Donald, along with a lot of other people bought into and, you know, has been allowed to fail more spectacularly than any money on the planet, I think, you know, so he still thinks that it's all his to take.
That is a good segue to the bankruptcy that you write about in the early 90s. Bankruptcies and bankruptcies. Right. You wrote that Donald Trump knew that taking responsibility for your failures, which obviously meant acknowledging failure, was not something Fred admired. Right. Can you talk about Donald's inability to acknowledge and accept responsibility for failures? And you know how that's impacting Americans now? I mean, how should voters be thinking about Donald's inability to take responsibility for failures as we record right now?
Two hundred thousand Americans are dead because of the covid-19 pandemic. And we now know it's not just because of an incompetency. It's malicious because we now know that he lied about it in the very beginning. He knew he lied and people are dead because of it. So, um, I'm sorry for the long winded question, but I think you follow what I'm trying to go here.
Yeah. And it did start with my grandfather's total unwillingness to accept. He had a really weird idea of what weakness was being kind was weak, being sick was weak, whether it was physically ill or, you know, having a substance abuse problem like my dad did, admitting your mistakes was weak. Apologizing was weak. You know, it's just a very damaging way of looking at the world and. You know, consequently, Donald, um, I guess because he was he's always wanted to hedge his bets, erred on the side of, you know, it's not that he wasn't ever going to admit he was wrong.
He was never going to be wrong in his own mind. Right. And because being wrong is also a weakness. And that combines with something else that's really important when we're talking about covid, because it isn't just that, although that's a huge part of it. And, you know, this was the one of the things when I started writing the book, identifying all of these through lines that lead from my grandfather directly to where we are now, it's like, yeah, yeah.
It's, you know, unnerving to see how often that happens. And that's certainly the case with these two things. First, never being wrong. And second, my grandfather's adherence to this idea of positive thinking. I'm glad you're going here because I wanted to explore this place, so, you know, I think it's highly unlikely my grandfather actually read the book, but, you know, he just needed the title, you know, the power of positive thinking.
That's all you need to be successful. And if you're not successful, you're just not being positive enough. So if you take it to the extreme, my grandfather took it to it. It it it's creates this at this really toxic atmosphere that shuts down the ability to express any other emotions, you know.
So my grandmother, who had terrible osteoporosis, it was in the hospital lot with broken bones.
She'd come home, she'd be in a hospital bed in the so-called library in agony, you know, because she had physical therapy or whatever.
And my grandfather would come in and say, everything's great.
Right. To, you know, just got to think positive. And she's like, crying in pain. And he's like, OK, see you. Because he couldn't deal with anything negative. And it was her problem, you know, did the same thing with my dad in a different, even more cruel way. So Donald learned that lesson, too, unfortunately, and those two things combined. They need to be positive at all costs and they need to be right all the time, have created this situation now in which.
He's basically willfully getting people killed. And that's not an overstatement, as you pointed out, he knew back in February, probably earlier, that's just when the interview, that's just when the tape got recorded. Yeah, he knew how serious this was. He knew how it worked. He knew how it got people sick. He knew that it was deadly. And made the calculation that it would be better for him not to tell anybody because he didn't want to spook the stock market, which is the only thing that matters now because the Republicans, you know.
Have done well, maybe not.
I don't know if it's a party issue exactly, but somehow and Donald has certainly magnified this, the stock market has become the barometer by which the economy is judged, even though it has nothing to do with the absurd.
Yeah, but, you know, that's what he thinks. And he didn't want to have that happen. And, you know, nobody was getting sick yet, but then people did start getting sick and people started dying. So what do you do? Do you course correct. And you say, well, you know, wait a minute, this is actually we do need to take this seriously and do X, Y and Z. No, you can't course correct.
Because what is course correcting really? It's admitting you were wrong in the first place, which he can't do. Cannot do that. Yeah. So we find ourselves in this situation where he is willing not simply to contradict the experts, you know, the epidemiologists, the medical professionals, the emergency medical people. He is willing to pack people into rallies without masks, without social distancing, endangering them and endangering everybody they come into contact with.
And he knows he's doing that, too, because he told a reporter he's not worried because he's far away from everybody. So he'll be just fine. How is that not willful mass murder at this point? We have two hundred thousand Americans, 90 percent of whom should still be alive today because of this man's hubris. A.
Yeah, basically, you know, cruelty, selfishness and desperation and complete detachment from reality, and this this through line leads us right up to the Axios interview with Jonathan Swanned, where I think I think Jonathan also questioned him on this positive thinking and but also his reaction to covid eventually to blurt out it is what it is.
It is what it is. Yeah.
That sends chills down my spine because that's a family phrase. And, you know, normal people say that are, you know, going through a tough time and they say it to comfort themselves. You know, this is out of my control right now. So I'm just going to let it be and do the best I can when when my grandfather said it or when Donald said it. I don't know if I can swear. So, ok, ok.
OK, so what they're really saying is, yeah, I could do something about this, but I don't give a shit. It's, it's just not important to me. Yeah it is what it is. Whatever.
It's just it that was one that was a very dark moment for me.
So the lies, the, the it's, it's almost like they're required in order to keep the the the fantasy going. So because you can't you have to lie in order to not burst the fantasy, not burst the bubble. Right. In the book you talk about when Donald introduced you to Monia, when he he made the introduction, he told Morning that you had a drug problem, which he made up. Yeah. You wrote that. I have to read this.
He slipped me a look and smiled. He was embellishing the story for a fact and he knew it.
Um, can you this is a funnier instance. Right. But can you talk about his compulsion to lie and what his motivation was and how it has changed since he came into office? Because, you know, I think it's the next logical step in this and it's conversation about how this power at all costs, winning and losing and the inability to to to admit you're wrong leads to what has to be a constant string of lies in order to just keep going.
Honestly, nothing's changed about the way he lies and deployers lies. The only thing that's changed is he needs to do it more.
So, you know, this works on several levels. The the incident you write about, that's a way for him to control the narrative and to control the person. He's lying. If you lie about somebody in front of them. Yeah. And they don't correct you. You own them. Yeah, I corrected him. I don't care.
And, you know, honestly, if I had had had a drug problem, I would have it wouldn't have bothered me that he brought it up. But and it didn't bother me that he made it up.
But, you know, my life was bad enough with a drug problem, so he didn't need to embellish it. But it was a way again to make himself look better because he was also talking about his own comeback story. He was also talking about that, the fact that despite me and my horrible fictional drug problem, he still hired me and resurrect know whatever is I'm in total control of not just the situation, but of you.
That's the death of a damn. Yeah.
Especially if you don't push back. And as we see, practically nobody ever does the other way. This functions now is or. Well, it's always function this way, but it's it's even more desperate now.
We cannot underestimate the amount of energy Donald expends preventing other people from figuring out who he really is and protecting himself from acknowledging who he really is, because underneath all of this, he's a weak, insecure, very frightened little boy.
That is a chilling thought. For someone who, as you call, is the most dangerous man in the world, and that's why one of the reasons he is. Yeah, you know, I had an interview recently where I was finding the stuff and and it was like, well, that's so harsh and. Like, well, you know, yes, the truth is hard, like as if I were being mean, but this isn't about that. This is just about telling the truth about something that affects all of us on a daily basis and is going to bring us to the point of no return if we don't stop it.
I want to talk about bullying for a moment, because you tell a story about Donald and Robert when they were young. Robert's favorite toys were three Tonka trucks, which Donald would hide. And eventually Donald threatened to break the trucks and Robert went to their mother, who hid the trucks in the attic. Can you talk about the type of behavior that was being reinforced there and how we now see that play out with Donald Trump as president? Sure.
And they were awesome trucks like they were like made out of the same material. Real trucks are made up like they were solid. They were amazing. I look up to you. Well, what's reinforced was. Donald can get away with it, you know, effectively the only person punished in that scenario was Robert. You know, his favorite toys were taken away from him because Donald threatened to break them up. So it was a fascinating solution that my grandmother came up with.
And I think it just speaks to her just not wanting to deal with it and get rid of the problem without understanding what she was actually doing. But it was one of many instances in which there was no check on Donald's behavior and the message was loud and clear. So in a way, when he got sent to the New York Military Academy, he perceived that rightly as a punishment. But it was just, in a way, the final abdication of parental responsibility.
You know that the Lincoln Project, we did this event at the Cooper Union in February and it was a commemoration of Abraham Lincoln's famous right makes my speech, which he gave their one hundred sixty years ago. And it's famous because he was speaking to a Republican Party that agreed with him on the issue of slavery, but felt that was a lost cause. And they didn't have a candidate. They had no hope of winning or gaining power. And in walks Abraham Lincoln and gives this this rousing address toward the very end.
The first two thirds of it is pretty meticulous and tedious. But up towards the very end, he he closes with this admonition to stand up and have courage. And I think the quote is something like, let us dare to do our duty. Let us have faith that right. Makes might and lead us to the end. Dare to do our duty as we understand it. And this idea that right makes might is exactly antithetical to it. It seems like the Donald Trump's worldview and the world view that was reinforced by the stories that you're talking about specifically.
One of the things is that the New York Military Academy and how his time there reinforced a key lesson from his father. I think you write the person with the power, no matter how arbitrary that power was conferred or attained, got to decide what was right and wrong. Anything anything that helped you maintain power was by definition, right, even if it wasn't always fair.
So with that, you wind up in context. What insight can you offer into how much this impacts his comments about? Well, anything that we're currently wrestling with. But let's just take Masland voting, for example, or like that. He's entitled to a third term, which he says from the rally podium all the time. Sometimes he's joking, sometimes he's not.
You can't tell he's not. Yeah. So, yeah. Can you talk about this? I mean, it's truly alarming to me and to so many of our listeners, and it should be Lieutenant Colonel Zinman said.
Right matters. And it turns out that's not true anymore in this country. So when we hear Donald saying these things that undermine. Everything that is good about us and our government. We need to be we need to take it really seriously and we need to put it in the proper context, he's cheating. This is cheating. He's attempting to steal. The election is not something that's happening going to happen in the future. It's happening now because he knows that he can't win a free and fair election.
He knows what's at stake here for him personally, because, again, the only thing that matters to him and he knows. How easy it is to frighten people. And he also knows that how much power he has to manipulate the system. So when you have somebody in the person in the Oval Office repeatedly saying things like you can't trust mail in ballot voting, that's cheating. Especially when you're seeing it during a pandemic in which people have a choice, safely vote by mail or risk getting sick and potentially dying by going to a polling place, especially since, you know, as we know, a lot of polling places in certain areas of the country are few and far between.
And the ones that do exist are incredibly crowded with long lines and long waits.
The fact that he put well, he he probably didn't do it, but was told to about Dejoy in charge of the post office was both a yet another way to push the envelope by, you know, essentially putting another fox in charge of a henhouse. You know, how somebody like somebody who has serious financial stakes in the United States post office competition is allowed to be appointed, that that's another problem we need to deal with sometime in the future. But, you know, it was also just a power play and another way to not not just to undermine people's confidence in an institution, but to undermine the institution itself.
And we see him doing this. Time after time in terms of calling into question the legitimacy of the election, if the election is decided during a pandemic with tons of mail and voting and lots of confusion on the night of November 3rd, it's illegitimate. If Joe Biden wins, it's illegitimate. So, you know, that's the cheating. The problem with him saying things like, you know, I'll I deserve a third term because they mate, they. Whatever he said, whatever we did to him made it his first term, not count, I don't know, because he was his wires were tapped or something, that's never really clear to me.
But, you know, he's not joking. And he's also planting a seed, a very dangerous seed.
So and then an equally large concern is the people around him. Yeah. Bill Barr has made it very clear that he's Donald Trump's personal attorney. He doesn't give a shit about the justice system in this country. And what he's doing is despicable.
He's as great a traitor to this country as Mitch McConnell, who, in my view, is the greatest traitor to this country since Robert E. Lee.
You know, so the fact that there are so many people around him and why? Why? Well, the truth of the matter is, all of these people are using it, you know, from his children to the Senate majority leader to the secretary of state and the attorney general. They're benefiting enormously from Donald's position in the Oval Office and they don't want that to end. So, you know, we need to be really vigilant because nobody.
And, you know, we haven't even talked about Russian interference, which has continued since twenty sixteen, because nobody I think, you know, nobody who's in a position to do something about it seems to think that it's necessary.
I think I've asked a couple of other guests this question, but I'm really interested in how you see this. But the Republicans in the Senate are not stupid and they know what they're doing. The people who end up in Donald Trump's orbit, generally not stupid, at least the ones that, you know, toward the beginning of his administration, highly qualified civil servants. How did they become so beholden to power in the same way that he is as opposed to being a check on that power?
Can you talk about how do you see those dynamics playing out and how is it so consistent that it's almost like everyone who enters that circle ends up becoming corrupted by the same thing?
Well, I think there are two waves in the first wave. We had people like General McMaster's, even people like Reince Priebus who.
You know, played by the rules that have been in place forever, you know, they understood how the system worked and this could also apply to Robert Mueller. And when it came to pushing back against Donald's behavior, they couldn't do it because they felt bound by a sense of honor or obligation that no longer applies. So, you know, that was initially the problem, that they were just playing by rules that don't exist anymore because Donald has been allowed to shatter so many norms and decency, honor, shame, don't mean anything to him.
You know, I mean, think about how many of our institutions and how many of our norms are upheld simply because we rely on people's sense of honor and sense of shame, you know? So I mean, if you did us any favor, it's helping us understand that that's not good enough. Right. And these things need to be codified down the line. But the second wave. Is people who don't care about the rules, who maybe never did, never did.
I mean, Bill Barr was a horrific attorney general under George H.W. Bush. I'm not entirely sure why people forgot that.
But anyway, so, you know, Mitch McConnell, as soon as he realized, however long ago, that he could get away with anything he wanted to as long as he had a majority.
You know, nothing's going to stop him, so in the second way, we have two different types of people. We have the people who are just in it for the power and have their own agendas and are just using Donald. You know, they're either using him because I think in the case of Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo, they want to turn this country into some form of a theocratic apartheid state. And then people closer to him, like my cousins who just want, you know, are in it for the money.
But then you also have the people who are corruptible and they're corruptible because they're weak. You know, something we're going to have to deal with down the line is, you know, the number of people in this country who are have authoritarian personality disorder and you know that describe that that that applies to the followers, not the people they follow.
But, you know, and I think every society has people like this. And I think, you know, along with the racists and the white supremacists and et cetera, et cetera, you know, it's like twenty two to twenty eight percent of the population. And I think one of the purposes of liberal democracy is to contain them. You know, um, but what we need to understand is that from twenty sixteen to twenty eighteen, that 22 percent of the population was represented, supported and elevated by 100 percent of the federal government.
Wow. I've never heard it put that way. We should actually offer folks a description definition of authoritarian personality disorder. Can you can you briefly summarize that. Yeah.
I mean, just, you know, at its most basic level, it's people who are attracted to leaders who, you know, kind of hate the same people they hate and make them feel better about. You know, they're potentially not very good circumstances and kind of identify with because, you know, authoritarians like Dolphus, as far as we thought, they're pretty weak people, you know. So I think there's this identification that occurs and, you know, they're just willing to follow these people over the cliff.
I mean, you know, we we've seen it happen time and time again. It's happened in Italy. It happened in Germany. It's happening in Poland now and Hungary. And it looks like it's happening here.
Yeah, I had a conversation with Anne Applebaum about America, but also, you know, she lives in Poland and was talking about that.
Yeah, I'm reading her book right now. It's excellent. Isn't it terrific.
Yeah, she's she's incredible. I wonder, are there do you think sociological or economic, environmental factors that that sort of are precursors to or sort of make people more predisposed to this authoritarian personality disorder?
I think it's more characterological, OK, because we see it across the board, you know, economically in terms of education. I mean, I think desperation doesn't help, certainly. But, you know, I'm not an expert in it. But I don't I don't think that there's any one thing that makes one more susceptible except the, you know, the central weakness of character. This is a this is a big open question, and like you said, we haven't really touched on in detail the Russian interference, which we know is happening right now.
We know it happened in 2016 with the Trump campaign's cooperation. So feel free to take a take a long swing at this. But I want to paint the picture for our listeners of all the potential consequences that you see in reelecting the world's most dangerous man. Well, I'd say electing, but that's another issue entirely.
There are no circumstances in which I can see it's a legitimate result. And I know I sound paranoid, but like I said, he's already cheating and he has all the power here and he has a lot of help from Russia. Bill Barr, Republican governors in certain states, not across the board, of course, but some anyway, the institutional advantages. First of all, he's a lot more dangerous now than it was four years ago. You know, I want to say this is as calmly as I can because I think it's just factually accurate.
If he stays in the Oval Office for another four years, it's the end of American democracy. And, you know, the American experiment will be over and we will have failed it because. You know, regardless of whether we think the results in 2016 were legitimate or not, it was much closer than it should have been. Yeah, and now we see everything he's done. Two hundred thousand Americans dead. The economy on the brink of collapse. I care about the stock market.
You know, people are getting evicted. People are worried about, you know, putting food on the table. People are terrified about their children going to school, et cetera, et cetera. The Muslim ban, the transgender ban. We are still separating children from their parents and putting them in cages at the border if that isn't enough.
Oh, and by the way, you know, as we mentioned earlier, it's not simply that simply it's not the two hundred thousand people or that it's that most of those people shouldn't be dead, but are directly because of Donald's willful inaction and lots. And yet. The polls are still in some states even, yeah, so. This speaks as far as I'm concerned, to a weakness in this country in ignorance, whether it's, you know, individual or systemic.
That if he were to hang on to power, that suggests that they're there, there's a big enough force that is anti-democratic, that, you know, that supports him and what he stands for, what's going to stop them from not having a free and fair election next time? What's going to stop bulbar from imprisoning people who speak out? What's going to stop them from continuing to take press passes away from reporters whose whose attitudes and opinions, not opinions, but you know, whose criticisms they don't like?
Yeah. You know, nothing, because there's there's no election. In the future that they have to worry about that we've said this before many times the Lincoln Project, which is that we don't right now, this year, we don't have the luxury of disagreeing about policy, debating the finer points of a sensible immigration plan or arguing over a variable tax rates. Right. That's not where we are anymore. We don't even get to have those conversations or debates until we avoid certain catastrophe for for for for our system as a whole.
Um, how much how much of that just out of curiosity, do you think gets the civic education gap and sort of a general understanding and appreciation for the underpinnings of the American experiment?
Oh, I think it's it's largely responsible for where we are now.
I mean, there are a lot of other things, social media, you know, the destruction of people's attention spans and stuff like that.
But no, our failure to educate our children about what government is, why it works, why it's important, and that it's not some alien thing separate from us.
The government is us. Is us. Yeah. You know, so when you have people saying things like keep the government of out of my Social Security, well, that would be hard to do because it's a government program.
Right. Or, you know, I love the ACA, but I hate Obamacare, even though they're exactly the same program. Yeah, we're in trouble. Yeah. When people think that small government is a good thing but have no problem with government interfering in certain ways. So I think it's a huge part of it. And I just also wanted to say that I completely agree with you about what's at stake right now and what we need to defer. Gun control isn't going to decide this election.
Right. ET cetera, et cetera. The only issue I think we need to continue to preference is climate change, because we can't take a break from climate change because it's not taking a break. But generally speaking, you know, this is totally nonpartisan. I don't care if you're a Democrat. I don't care if you're a Republican. If you care about this country, if you care about America's standing in the world, if you care about what it means to be American and you don't want to be associated with the cruelty, the mendacity, the recklessness, I mean, ah, it took 70 years for the Western alliance.
To take it well, it's for 2016, yeah, it's been eroded enormously in the last three and a half, rapidly and rapidly, other countries don't our our allies don't trust us anymore. They don't trust our judgment. And, you know, if if he stays in the Oval Office, then they will never forgive us for that.
So, you know, I'm very honest. I am a liberal Democrat. Absolutely.
But one of the reasons I I have I've I've worked with the Lincoln Project is because I totally respect how they're coming at this issue. We're not coming at this as Democrats or Republicans. We're coming at this as Americans who care.
That's right. That's right. Before I let you go, what questions you do? You do lots of these interviews. You've got to be exhausted by now. And I'm sure and I'm sure you consumed by January 21st, 2021. Yeah. You mean a good deal. Is there a question, any question that you wish you had been asked but haven't been asked yet in these interviews and about your work? Probably.
But, you know, I have to say, I could have answered that question really easily a month and a half ago, as if one more person had asked me about Donald's comments on my fear. It's something which I know is incredibly important to the future of the republic.
You know, that that was driving me crazy. But I think over time and as you know, the election gets closer and it it's clear it's becoming more clear what's really important and what's at stake. Yeah, I think interviews, generally speaking, have gotten more substantive and more nuanced like this one. I mean, you know, like I'm able to have conversations like this. Yeah. And I think, you know, that's meaningful to me personally. But I think it's really helpful to listeners who can understand that, you know, this isn't just about me and my family.
Right. You know, that's the least of it.
And, you know, I'm I don't think my publisher would appreciate this, but I don't care about the book.
You know, this is all about the election. And I mean, the book is important in helping explain things and to buy it.
And you should read it because it gives you an a tremendous insight into the man who is, you know, who is, as you say, the most dangerous man in the world. Yeah. So let's not downplay the book.
No, no, no, I'm not. I don't mean it that way. What I mean is like there's a difference, though, between having an interview that's like about the book and, you know, and something like this that talks about the book in a way that connects it in a very real way to what's going on and what could happen. That's what I mean. I don't read the book as an important I just mean, it's not it can't just be about the reason you wrote it and the instruction that we can take from it.
That's that's that's what we're trying to do here. Yeah, precisely. Mary, what a pleasure to meet you and talk with you. This is really great. This is this has been really fantastic. I'm grateful to you for coming on the show and would love to have you back any time.
So. Yeah, absolutely. Um, absolutely. Yeah.
Anything you want to leave our listeners with before we go again, I just want to emphasize this is this is this is a nonpartisan election. Yeah. This is about you know, it literally is about the soul. It's about the fate of our country. It is about the fate of the republic. And, you know, first of all, obviously vote, but even more importantly, that then that don't please don't waste time trying to convince people who still support Donald to vote for Joe Biden, because that's not going to work.
Focus on people you know, who maybe don't vote typically. Yes. And impress upon them just how important it is and that their voice really will matter this time around.
Thank you to Mary for taking the time to be with us on the show today. And thanks to all of you. Hope for listening. Mary's book, Too Much and Never Enough is available. Now you can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project US if you have advice or questions about the podcast. You can email us at podcast link and project us. And as always, please know that even if you don't receive a response, we read every email we get and we really appreciate hearing from you.
Please make sure to subscribe rates and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. Not only do we appreciate reading your feedback, but this also helps us. Stay up in the rankings so that more voters can find the show and join our movement to defeat Trump and Trump is up for the Lincoln Project. I'm Ron Zaslow. I'll see you in the next episode.