Have you heard that the Nobel Committee is biased against Donald Trump? Big news!
“I think I’m going to get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things, if they gave it out fairly, which they don’t,” the President said on Monday at the United Nations.
It’s easy, of course, to roll your eyes at a statement like this. After all, it’s in keeping with Trump’s healthy ego and his belief that he deserves prizes – all the prizes.
But to do that ignores the second half of what Trump said on Monday. That second part is what matters – and what’s so telling about Trump.
See, Trump isn’t just saying that he should “get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things.” He is saying that he won’t win one because the people who give out the Nobel Prize aren’t “fair” in the way they decide who wins and who doesn’t. His evidence? That President Barack Obama won one shortly after coming into office. Said Trump:
“They gave it out – well, they gave one to Obama immediately upon his ascent to the presidency, and he had no idea why he got it. And you know what? That was the only thing I agreed with him on.”
Trump’s view on the Nobel Prize is broadly consistent with the way in which he views the world: Elites – whether in the United States or in the international community – have long conspired against “regular” people like Trump. (Sidebar: Trump is a billionaire and the son of a multimillionaire who until 2017 lived his entire life in New York City. But I digress…)
Remember that Trump, in his own mind, has always been on the outside looking in. His dad was a builder in Queens but never took on the big boys in Manhattan. Trump himself built in Manhattan, but always felt excluded from the monied clubs in the city. (Why do you think he built his own clubs?) When Trump came to Washington in 2011 while considering a bid for elected office, he was mocked and laughed at.
His election in 2016, and the way in which he has approached the presidency, is rightly understood as a sort of revenge-seeking against the so-called elites who have wronged him over the years.
“I hate it, I meet these people, they call it the elite,” Trump said regularly on the campaign trail in 2018. “We got more money, we got more brains, we got better houses and apartments, we got nicer boats, we’re smarter than they are and they say they’re the elite. You’re the elite, we’re the elite.”
Trump then takes that anti-elitism and sprinkles it with a very healthy dose of conspiracy theory. It’s not just that the elites think they are so great. It’s that they are also conspiring to keep the average person down. So the media secretly works with Democrats, he says. And the establishment lets voter fraud got unnoticed right under their nose. Social media companies work to silence conservative voices. (“A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,” Trump said at the United Nations General Assembly meeting on Tuesday.) And the Nobel Prize committee refuses to acknowledge the truly great accomplishments of Donald Trump.
Trump’s world is one of resentment and paranoia. It’s what fuels him. It’s what colors every interaction he has. It’s what explains why he acts he way he acts.