They say “winners never quit.” An adage like this seems correct when appraised with a sensibility toward hard work and commitment. In that sense it can be thought of as healthy and aspirational. It also serves as a good catch phrase, an impartation of wisdom worth being passed on to younger generations to whom the importance of perseverance is being stressed and for whom surrender in the face of obstacles is being impugned. In that sense it can be thought of as cautionary. Still, at least one additional thing seems clear about this adage — it’s false.
Expressions like this one, promulgated by what German philosopher Martin Heidegger called “das man” or “the they” (e.g., “they say…”), tend not to have specific authority or a particular source. In this vein they function as culturally transparent sayings rather than as undeniably true utterances. We might wonder, then, whether this expression has anything edifying to say about the current political situation in the United States. Both in its reality-capturing accuracy and in its untruth, the expression “winners never quit” has echoed in my head as I have looked with bewilderment at the Trump presidency. Between these echoes and amidst the unfolding of media chaos, political punditry, and a myriad of scandals, there is a coalescing refrain that comes in the form of a prediction: Trump will quit.
“Winners never quit” is, in this case, going to prove false. Here’s why...
For starters, the obvious should be stated: Trump indeed won the seat in the White House and, as such, must be counted as a winner. I’m sure he’d like (nay, love) my saying that. After all, the man is consumed by the binary (winning-losing) itself. He employed the concept in an almost Charlie Sheen-like fashion during his campaign. He recently referred to terrorists as “losers” rather than rightly categorizing them as murderers. In short, he’s obsessed with notions of winning and losing. Most narcissists are. They see interpersonal encounters as games to be manipulated in order to emerge feeling victorious and empowered. They uphold self-images that have been constructed to guard vulnerabilities and uncomfortable truths resting beneath the surface. They perceive others as threats and potential exposers of these truths. And so they name-call, they point at everyone but themselves, and they create chaos and whirlwinds in order to avoid stillness and honest introspection. Put bluntly, they rarely change, they tend not to mature, and, as such, they do everything they can to win. Sound familiar?
Impeachment, however, would count as a loss. If that prospect lies in the future, we can be sure Trump won’t stick around for it. We already know well that he’s in the business of saying “you’re fired” rather than hearing it. My prediction is that a Trump resignation from the office of presidency is imminent. Why? Because he can’t win, he hasn’t been winning, and in the mind of someone who sees the world through concrete binaries, the default option, in the absence of winning, is losing. And since impeachment, or some other form of leveraged removal, would constitute losing, we can expect the President to “win” in a different way — by preemptively walking away.
We can expect Trump to do this loudly, with his chest out, and with his head held high. A hunched over, humbled, head hung in shame look just wouldn’t bode well for “winning.” What’s more, we can also expect some narcissistic icing on the cake as he makes his exit. He’ll invoke themes of victimization along the lines of blaming others for not allowing him to do his job effectively. He’ll emphatically motion toward those who constrained him, rather than admitting to or acknowledging his own rigidity. And he’ll make allusions to virtues like honor and nobility by attributing his decision to resign to a desire to spare the country of further turbulence and to protect his family from the political firestorm that has engulfed the Trump name. Self-image remains firmly intact.
The when of this is not entirely apparent. Only time will tell whether my prediction is a good one. But, for reasons both implicit and described above, the who, what, why, and how are clear as day: President Trump can’t win, so he’ll quit. Unless, of course, he happens to read this, let his ego and incessant adamancy on winning get the best of him again, and resolve to prove me wrong, thus ensuring that I — rather than he — lose. Were that to happen, I guess it’ll be business as usual for me and many others in the global community — hold on for dear life.