Is Trump an Asshole? No — He’s Worse.

Mike Weisser
3 min readOct 17, 2022

At least we finally have a book about Donald Trump which isn’t just another version of how the MAGA movement will usher in a Fascist dictatorship if Trump is allowed to run again in 2024. We’re at the brink of the Fourth Reich even if Trump doesn’t stay in the middle of things, but if he does keep himself afloat, American democracy as we know it will surely come to an end.

For a more realistic and certainly less hysterical analysis of what Trump represents, I recommend the slim little volume by a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California/Irvine, Aaron James, with the wonderfully prosaic title, Assholes — A Theory.

James published this work in 2009, and Trump only rates a brief mention in several sections of the text.

In fact, when it comes to contemporary political assholes, the book is rather thin in naming names, basically skipping quickly over Rush Limbaugh and Roger Aisles, both of whom are now dead, along with several media loudmouths like Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews, who nobody listens to anyway.

What stands out, however, in this narrative, is the author’s definition of ‘asshole,’ as well as his theory for why assholes seem to abound these days and in both respects his argument is entirely germane to understanding what Trump means and doesn’t mean.

Basically, an ‘asshole’ manifests three, basic behavioral traits on a regular and recurring basis:

1. He allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so on a systematic basis,

2. he enjoys these advantages based on an entrenched sense of entitlement,

3. his sense of entitlement immunizes him against the complaints of others who do not enjoy the same degree of advantages.

Professor James then goes on to describe how the ‘asshole’s sense of entitlement also shapes his relations to others, particularly when he “is often rude or more often borderline nasty. The ‘asshole’ gains special advantages from interpersonal relations, not by stroke of continuous luck but because he regards himself as special.” [pp. 15–16.]

If that’s not a clear and concise portrait of how Donald Trump behaves in the public and political spheres, I don’t know what is.

Most of the book’s text then goes on to talk about how the behavior of current-day assholes reflects the degree to which contemporary capitalism is fast becoming a…

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