Vaccine or no vaccine, here we go into the void.
Calling Trump a sociopath is like called Santa Claus a nice guy. It's true enough, but doesn't really plumb the depths of either man. And since social distancing may keep Santa from entering our homes this coming December, we'll leave him for another day. Complicating the issue is this: sociopathy is no longer recognized as a psychological term, having been replaced by antisocial personality disorder. (Folks, Trump will always remain our sociopath, just be aware of the psychological inaccuracy.)
Antisocial personality disorder: it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but the definition is more suitable—the presence of a chronic and pervasive disposition to disregard and violate the rights of others. Now that's the guy we know!
Beyond that, if you're looking for symptoms, "manifestations include repeated violations of the law, exploitation of others, deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggressiveness, reckless disregard for the safety of self and others, and irresponsibility, accompanied by lack of guilt, remorse, and empathy."
Get your hurricane-altering Sharpies out, because Trump checks all the boxes. In fact, had you seen this written next to Trump's yearbook picture, you'd probably just nod and say yep, that's him.
The current crisis has underscored practically every aspect of that definition; in fact during past week alone he has sought the release of a confessed criminal, deepened his obsession with a former president, tried rewriting history, made promises he could not possibly honor, and again endorsed armed thugs in statehouses. And this recent dispatch from the White House, for instance—filled with concern and caring and all kinds of rules about nursing homes and Medicaid—flies in the face of a statement like "The United States is opening, vaccine or no vaccine." If I may translate: "More will die, but I'll be re-elected."
(To see Trump's moral turpitude at its fullest and most hideous, read this article about our "presence" in Yemen. The number killed by his agenda are eerily the same as the number who have died during his pandemic response.)
No country for old men? No country for anyone. In Trump's world we are all equally expendable, from the child with the virulent rash—to the twenty-something on a respirator—to the nonagenarian veteran dying alone. It may be a person who follows the rules and runs into bad luck, but it may just as easily be the cherished child of a protester waving an American flag in the rain. The virus is not particular; neither is the president. We are collateral damage in the quest for financial stability.
And I don't mean to trivialize the need for that stability. Americans are out of work and suffering, and there are some businesses which may never reopen. But a beneficent government and humanitarian leadership tend to those matters, help to mitigate those issues. This is still America where we have weathered so much. Now we can't anymore? Because a rudderless "leader" tells us we have to choose between our lives and our livelihoods?
Of course from the beginning Trump has never viewed this as a humanitarian issue, never calculated the suffering and death except in monetary terms. That calculus prevented him from acting in time—from acting at all. He has since heaped fulsome praise on health care workers, but even then we could see his lips moving—which meant he was wearing no mask—which meant he was not setting the example he should have been setting according to his own guidelines—which meant he was modeling how to spread the disease further and further imperil those selfsame health care workers. It's sociopathic...or used to be before we learned a new term.
So let's get used to that antisocial personality disorder thingy when we talk about Trump, and if you have your own Sharpie and you're observing the president, monitor his daily behavior (pick a day, it won’t matter) and see how long it takes you to check these off.
_____ repeated violations of the law
_____ exploitation of others
_____ reckless disregard for the safety of self and others
_____ irresponsibility, accompanied by lack of guilt, remorse, and empathy.
If it takes you more than a few hours, you're not paying attention.