Bill Maher has jumped into the conversation about just what caused this year’s Donald Trump phenomenon in the United States with the suggestion that “the self-esteem movement” is to blame, according to the Washington Post‘s political blog, The Fix. On the March 18 episode of his HBO program, Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher rustled up an old clip that appears to show a copyright date of 1972, and looks like an educational reel to be shown to children. He used this clip in his popular “New Rule” segment, which took aim at the Republican frontrunner in the 2016 race for president, New York City businessman Donald Trump. The reel features children playing and is accompanied by a retro-sounding jingle that sings the title line, “The most important person in the whole wide world is you!”
Bill Maher goes on to point out that in the United States, American students have scored “dead last” in math skills while scoring first in confidence in math skills, suggesting a narcissism that has created at least a bit of a break with reality. For his part, Donald Trump has made it clear that he believes he’s the best at everything he tries, despite the fact that his string of bankruptcies, failed product lines, and divorces certainly proves otherwise.
Bill Maher believes that these two situations occurring in the same country are not a coincidence. He played a montage of Donald Trump behind various lecterns insisting that he is the best at different things — building walls (has Donald Trump ever actually built a wall?), loving the Bible, commanding the military, and being presidential. Trump also states in the montage that he will be “the greatest ‘jobs president’ that God has ever created.”
Bill Maher refers to our tendency to encourage far too much self-esteem in our children as “Trophy Syndrome,” which is reminiscent of many other pundits and commentators who have bemoaned the concept of the “participation trophy.” This concept ensures that no child ever experiences losing a competition, and that every child involved in a competition, athletic event, or performing arts event receives a trophy or medal. Other comedians such as Adam Carolla have expressed frustration with this trend and the impact that it has on American children. Others have referred to the children who are coddled in this way as “special snowflakes” in an obviously unflattering manner.
“Every time a parent takes the kid’s side over the teacher’s, or asks a child where they want to go to dinner, or doesn’t say, ‘Be quiet,’ when adults are talking, you are creating the Donald Trumps of tomorrow.”
Bill Maher suggests that Donald Trump is essentially one of the spoiled children that resulted from this practice, possibly having had his maturity stunted even more because he inherited a large sum of money, as well as received a business loan from his father in the amount of $1 million. Maher also compared Trump to Kanye West, another celebrity who is often accused of being narcissistic, and made the point that Donald Trump may believe himself to be the most important person in the world right now, but in eight months he actually could be that person if he is elected president of the United States.
Donald Trump, in addition to boasting about his fortitude in areas in which he has absolutely no experience and inflating his business record, has been known to completely disregard the unwritten rules of propriety in public discourse, and has often been accused of racism.
Click here for the video of Bill Maher’s segment that discusses Donald Trump and the “self-esteem movement” in the United States. Please be advised that Real Time with Bill Maher airs uncensored on HBO, and the linked video contains explicit language that is not suitable for the office, nor for children.
Is Bill Maher correct? Has “participation trophy” culture and the “self-esteem movement” contributed to — or perhaps entirely created — Donald Trump’s narcissism?
[Image via Kevin Winter/Getty Images]