Mapping the world's opinions

He isn't mentally ill, he is a reality TV star

The traits that make someone a reality TV star, like arrogance and impulsivity, when put in the White House, look like mental illness.

Context

Trump treats the presidency like a reality TV set. He approaches foreign policy with over the top, dramatic sabre-rattling. His repeated attacks on Hillary Clinton, more than two years after the 2016 election, are like reality show referring back to previous seasons. He lies and deceives the public, rescinds White House invitations liberally and uses the presidency to promote his own personal and business interests.[1][2]

The Argument

Trump isn't mentally ill. He is a product of his previous experiences. He is the first president that had no military or government experience. He is a reality TV star by trade. When transported to the White House, his behaviour that appears quite normal on our television sets suddenly looks erratic and impulsive.[3] Looking at his behaviour through the lens of reality TV reveals that he is not mentally ill at all. He has honed his skills in the entertainment industry and arrives in the White House with the knowledge of how to garner international attention, how to deliver a controversial sound bite, how to stay unpredictable and how to get good TV ratings. When the public sees this unconventional approach to governing, confronted by an arrogant, bullish and bellicose leader, they immediately assume there must be an underlying mental illness. This isn't the case. It is simply a TV personality shaking up politics in the White House.

Counter arguments

Trump's behaviour cannot simply be reduced to his background in reality television. Firstly, when he was in The Apprentice, he was not a contestant, he was a judge. The judge does not have to play an erratic and impulsive role to boost ratings. The judge is cool and collected and behaves much more like a viewer.[4] Simon Cowell and Gorden Ramsey do not fight, throw temper tantrums and behave erratically. Like Ramsey and Cowell, Trump's character evaluated contestants' performances and had the final say over who would leave the show. He needed to possess strong analytical skills and make rational decisions. None of these skills he appears to possess now in office. Also, his behaviour goes far beyond simply erratic, impulsive arrogance. In Michael Wolff's book, he described a president who would often repeat himself, couldn't follow a simple stream of thought and craved public adoration and popularity. These are not the signs of a TV personality in the White House, they are signs of significant cognitive decline and mental illness.

Premises

[P1] Erratic, impulsive, arrogant behaviour is typical of reality TV stars. [P2] Donald Trump is a reality TV star. [P3] Therefore, he is not mentally ill, he is simply a reality TV star with all his quirks applying his experience and personality to politics.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Trump's behaviour goes beyond the realms of normality. [Rejecting P2] Trump wasn't a reality TV contestant. As a judge, he was supposed to be more grounded.

References

  1. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/06/is-reality-tv-really-to-blame-for-president-donald-trump
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/world/asia/north-korea-un-sanctions-nuclear-missile-united-nations.html?module=inline
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/31/us/politics/trump-reinventing-presidency.html
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/04/what-exactly-makes-trump-a-reality-tv-president/558626/

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 2 Apr 2019 at 15:48 UTC