The Political Personality of Donald Trump

By Winston Nagan and Samantha Manausa

What kind of a personality is Donald Trump? In this article, the authors share their insights on what type of leader Trump is by looking at various perspectives, and whether his traits are compatible with what the democracy requires as well as what his recent conducts as president indicate about the political history of America.


Donald Trump, in poetic terms, resembles the Green Knight in the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Green Knight storms into the aristocratic and sophisticated castle of King Arthur. He represents the unruliness and unkemptness of crude, untethered nature. Donald Trump’s personality is a complex combination of natural forces, many of which have a psychopathological edge to them. From the point of political psychology, he is the quintessential illustration of the power-oriented and directed personality. There is nothing necessarily bad about a leader seeking power. However, the methods he uses to get power may reveal complex personality traits, some of which are infused with latent psychopathologies. Since he has achieved power, these pathologies have even begun to express themselves in the form of a lethal leadership behaviour. The idea of a political personality that is oriented to power is expressed in scholarly terms as the “private motives of the actor displaced on public objects and rationalised in the public interest.” Clearly, Trump displaces something on public objects and provides garrulous justifications such as “Make America Great Again”, “Beware of Outsiders”, and “We are Under Threat and I have a Solution”. Trump was able to wedge himself into the political process by appealing to a minority of white voters who were still wallowing in shock and awe over the election of a black president.

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About The Authors

Winston P. Nagan is Professor of Law at University of Florida, and the Founding Director, at the Institute for Human Rights, Peace and Development and Fellow, Royal Society of the Arts. He is an alumnus of the University of South Africa, where he did his B.A (Law); Brasenose college, Oxford, where he got an M.A (Juris); Duke School of Law where he did LL.M. and later Yale School of Law, where he obtained his Doctorate degree in law.

Samantha R. Manausa is an undergraduate with honors at the University of Florida, studying religion, political science, and Spanish language. She is currently researching contemporary global issues as a junior fellow of the Institute of Human Rights, Peace and Development at the Levin College of Law, University of Florida.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.