E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one," is a Latin phrase America's forefathers chose to describe their vision for the nascent nation. Out of many states, people and beliefs, rises one unified Republic. That single phrase possesses our forefathers' dreams, intellect, and higher mind toward governance. It puts no one person ahead of another, seeking as close to perfection as one can hope for in a union as diverse as ours. Then along came Donald.
2020 saw several court battles over books featuring the Trump administration's missteps, and personal battles. One such title was THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED: A WHITE HOUSE MEMOIR (Simon & Schuster, $32.50) by former national security adviser John Bolton. Releasing it to a public hungry for insight into a president whose actions left many perplexed, it sold upwards of 750,000 copies its first week alone. Mary L. Trump, PhD, the president's niece, blew those numbers away in July with the release of her book TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH: HOW MY FAMILY CREATED THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS MAN (Simon & Schuster, $28.00), selling over a million copies its first day. Love him or hate him, the American public, it seemed, couldn't get enough of Trump.
Born the fourth child of five to Fred and Mary Trump in 1945, Donald Jonathan Trump did not have a normal start to life. When he was still a toddler, his mother fell ill and was never able to provide the nurturing child psychologists say is crucial for healthy development at that age. His father, already a baron of sorts through his company Trump Management, didn't see the need - or have the time - to fill the void left by Mary. From a very early age, the author claims, Donald was left to figure out life on his own.
Fred Trump ran his household on the principles laid down by Norman Vincent Peale in THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING (Simon & Schuster, $8.00), the international bestseller and precursor to the so-called prosperity gospel. It states, "[O]bstacles are simply not permitted to destroy your happiness and well-being. You need be defeated only when you are willing to be." Positivity is all well and good, but applying Peale's philosophy as a foundation of child-rearing? A philosophy that places blame squarely on the shoulders of the struggling; well, that's just messed up. As a result, Fred created an atmosphere of "learned helplessness," in which his children are dependent on the Master (in this case, Fred) for their most basic needs, contingent on his approval. The metrics of learned helplessness run in exact opposition to those of unconditional love.
Mary paints a picture of her grandfather void of affection. His approach to life seems to mirror what we know about President Trump: winning is everything, and winner takes all. He recognized Donald's flash and personality - qualities Fred lacked - and understood he could use them for financial gain.
"Fred didn't groom Donald to succeed him; when he was in his right mind, he wouldn't trust Trump Management to anybody. Instead, he used Donald, despite his failures and poor judgment, as the public face of his own thwarted ambition. Fred kept propping up Donald's false sense of accomplishment until the only asset Donald had was the ease with which he could be duped by more powerful men."
As a family history, TOO MUCH is a tragedy. It portrays a family which values wealth above each other. A family based on transactions, requiring proof of value from one another, endlessly pitted against each other by the family patriarch. Mary, being a professional in the field of mental health, excuses her uncle's petulance with TOO MUCH, whether intentionally or not. Mired in dysfunction, how else was he supposed to turn out?
As a political expose, TOO MUCH is a provocative warning. Regardless of wealth and fame, it's important to know what you're electing. Our forefathers adopted the Latin phrase, E pluribus unum: Out of many, one. I can only imagine what Donald Trump thinks that means.