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Mary Trump: Minority Rule is Here

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Mary Trump: Minority Rule is Here

Mary Trump is a clinical psychologist and host of the podcast The Mary Trump Show. She is also a bestselling author, and her most recent book, The Reckoning, talks about national trauma and finding ways to heal.

Her first book, Too Much and Never Enough, analyzes how the toxic Trump household created the Donald Trump we know today.

Here’s the mashed potatoes story that Mary and Ken reference during the episode.

Mary Trump:

I've often said it's a terrible time to be a human being with empathy. The things that hurt us actually make the other side feel empowered and emboldened. They like this stuff and it energizes them when we are susceptible to basically our humanity.

Ken Harbaugh:

I'm Ken Harbaugh, and this is Burn the Boats, a podcast about big decisions.

My guest today, is Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist and host of the wildly popular podcast, the Mary Trump Show. She is also, a bestselling author, and her most recent book, The Reckoning, about national trauma and finding ways to heal, is why I wanted to talk to her today.

Mary, welcome to Burn the Boats.

Mary Trump:

It is so good to be here. I've been looking forward to this for a long time.

Ken Harbaugh:

It feels like we are stuck in a national nightmare from mass shootings, to powerful men abusing and then shaming their victims, to take your pick, we are a traumatized nation.

And the thing about your book, which I find so relevant to the current moment, is how you talk about the legacy of trauma. We always seem to focus on traumatic events. I certainly do.

I come at this as a veteran, someone who has lost friends to PTSD, but the power of generational trauma and the legacy of historical traumas can have just as much power over our lives.

What happens when we as individuals or as communities fail to reckon with traumatic events in our past?

Mary Trump:

Yeah. Well, thank you for that. That book is really important to me. When I came up with the idea for it obviously, I wanted to pivot away from only talking about my family, which is no longer that interesting to me and it's less and less relevant.

Like in the context of Donald, for example. He's just a symptom at this point. And it's the extent to which he's enabled, that is what should trouble us, and who's enabling him, and why that's happening.

But we were in the midst of the second wave of COVID when I started thinking about just the broad scale national trauma we were facing and the impact of that going forward.

And my original thought was, “Okay, what are we going to do about it?” And then of course, I realized that I can't write individual treatment plans for 330 million people, and that's not as useful as looking at why we were so vulnerable going into COVID.

And figuring that out required taking many steps back and looking at that issue in a historical context.

And we are a nation that started in the traumas of genocide and enslavement. And we have never grappled, let alone dealt with either of those things and the reasons those occurred (white supremacy) and the fallout from having been a nation that committed those atrocities.

So, here we are, deeply divided and traumatized generationally, as you said. So, how do you fix that?

I think this has been one of my mantras in the last three years. If you were in the process of being actively traumatized, you cannot heal from your past trauma. And that seems to be what keeps pinning us in place.

And on the one side, it's people who have, at the hands of other people, suffered the intergenerational trauma.

And on the other hand, it's the people who perpetuate those traumas by failing to look squarely in the face of how they've benefited from and continue to participate in those systems.

So, it's complicated in some ways, but in other ways, it's pretty simple and it's just about being honest with ourselves about what we've created and how we're going to change it.

Ken Harbaugh:

Mary, I love your focus on the legacy of trauma and on what happens when we don't deal with it. My wife has this phrase that if you don't deal with your trauma, it will deal with you.

But your observation that you cannot deal with past trauma, or it's very difficult to, when you're in the midst of an ongoing trauma, is so insightful, especially in a political context in which there are so many vested interests in continuing and maintaining that trauma.

And there's this passage from your book that I'd love to get your comments on. You say that, “I've heard people say this is not who we are, but right now, this is precisely who we are.”

“Thanks to an outdated and inherently biased political structure exemplified by the undemocratic electoral college, which has repeatedly put the losing Republican candidate in office and the divided Senate in which one half of the membership represents 41 million fewer citizens than the other.”

“We are a nation in which a virulent minority has an outsized voice, and the majority underrepresented and forced into a bystander role suffers mightily in silence.”

That silence suffering reminds me so much of the trauma of people I know who are just getting by. How do we grapple with historical trauma when we're in the midst of it?

Mary Trump:

Yeah, that is the essential question, I think. And just to make it clear to people, I come at this as somebody who has CPTSD for many, many years since childhood. So, I understand it quite intimately, unfortunately.

But I also, understand that you can be triggered by things that seem wholly unrelated to the original trauma, and that makes us vulnerable in ways that are hard to explain, really.

And during COVID, as many people with PTSD will tell you, it made it harder to deal with the impact of COVID, but at the same time, having already had your diagnosis and understanding the disorder, at least gave you context.

And it made me start thinking about people who either didn't know they had PTSD already, or didn't know that COVID was inflicting it upon them. And just the uncertainty and not being able to understand what's happening with you made people even more vulnerable and more susceptible.

So, knowledge is incredibly important, and I think we've failed as a society to give people the tools they need to understand, not just what's going on, but how to get help and how to make sense of what's happening in their day-to-day lives.

But as a society, we've also, failed on a broader level as citizens to come to that understanding collectively as a nation, which is why I think in part, we are at the mercy of that virulent minority.

One of the things that I've found, (I don't want to say demoralizing, I try not to be demoralized by this, but troubling, shall we say) over the last few years, is the extent to which the things that do demoralize some of us and that make us angry and that make us frustrated …

I've often said it's a terrible time to be a human being with empathy. The things that hurt us actually make the other side feel empowered and emboldened. They like this stuff and it energizes them when we are susceptible to basically our humanity, which is a terrible place to be in.

So, when I said this, and when you read that to me, (and I haven't read the book in a while) it kind of said to chill down my spine, because I think it's even more true now, than it was when I wrote it. And that's not good. We're going in the wrong direction.

And it I think there's a point at which saying there are more of us than there are of them loses its power because the things I mentioned, the way the system is rigged in favor of that minority and the extent to which that minority will just take the horrors really, that are being inflicted on us and just double down on inflicting more of them. It's quite something.

So, the whole system is in need of overhaul. And again, unfortunately, those of us who feel and sympathize, and empathize, and care are at a disadvantage.

Ken Harbaugh:

We are, we are. And I worry a lot, and I've asked a number of previous guests this, about our beliefs that organization and rallying can overcome voter suppression and a will to impose minoritarian rule.

And if bad faith actors don't care about the will of the people, like we see in certain state houses that have cemented minoritarian rule, all the organizing in the world … listen, I'm not going to fall into the pessimism trap but I think we need to be realistic.

That organization itself isn't going to overcome the type of cynicism that you write about, the type of cynicism that revels in hurting people, where cruelty is the point and the angrier you get, the happier they are.

Mary Trump:

Yeah, that's such a good point. Because pretending that we're playing by the same old rules is going to be fatal to the American experiment. And pretending that the other side is operating in good faith that really does demoralize this side.

When you have President Biden, whom I don't go out of my way to criticize the Biden administration because we need them to win again in 2024. And right now, we are literally looking at a choice between democracy and fascism.

So, if I disagree with him on policy issues, once in a while, I’m going to keep my mouth shut, because that's not the point. If he is running in the general election against any of these Republicans, President Biden will be the only pro-democracy candidate on the ballot. So, I'm pulling my punches about other things.

But when President Biden calls Mitch McConnell a good friend or says that Kevin McCarthy is an honest man, for whom is that statement, who is the audience for those statements? Because in my view, it just completely misreads the reality we are dealing with.

The Republicans burned the playbook to ashes, and they are not operating in good faith in any way, shape, or form. So, when democratic leaders seem to fail to understand that, it makes it a little harder to stay in the fight the way we need to.

So, I'm not really sure what else needs to happen in order for Democrats to get that message and understand that you can fight really hard without becoming like your enemy.

I know this has been argued to death, but I never interpreted, we go high as we become doormats. I just thought it meant we're going to do everything in our power to win without lying, cheating, and stealing like they do.

If we need to put on our brass and knuckles, (figuratively speaking) and get in the mug with them, (figuratively speaking) we'll do that because we are on the right side of this and that should empower us.

Ken Harbaugh:

You said in a recent interview that Democrats need to stop pretending that we can be polite and all just get along. And I think that captures it pretty well.

I intentionally left your uncle out of the introduction.

Mary Trump:

Thank you.

Ken Harbaugh:

You're welcome. And I don't want to ask this question of you as his niece, but as a clinical psychologist, you're right to point to COVID as one of these triggering events that really exposed so many existing vulnerabilities.

But for millions of Americans, 2016 and the election of Donald Trump was the indexing event. And that is an ongoing trauma. It's almost like an abuse scenario.

Mary Trump:

It absolutely is like an abuse scenario. And that was my trigger. I mean, I've been in lockdown since November, 2016 because, well, one problem was I lived in a Republican town at the time, so it was amazing.

Like people who voted for Bush, were good friends of mine. And all of a sudden in 2016, like that couldn't happen anymore. It was a truly defining event for our country.

And I think that the Women's March was a very clear indication of that. But in a weird way, I think those kinds of protests normalized the situation, because it suggested that in the context of somebody like him, protests would matter.

I mean, we saw this last night, like you can set up a framework that would work for somebody who understands how rules work and it'll be fine. But you put somebody like Donald in the mix and everything gets upended and undermined.

So, I honestly think that that was the beginning … not the beginning. Listen, I've always considered him to be a symptom of a disease that's been working its way through the body politic for decades.

And it's been a slow, steady slide to him who came to openly demonstrate what the Republican party actually has been standing for all along. Like I don't think he changed the party, he just revealed it.

And now, we're in a situation where because nobody has figured out a way to push back, the disease has metastasized.

It is not an accident that 12 million more people voted for him in 2020, which is a shame that this country will never live down. This country will never live down putting him in the White House in the first place. And the fact that more people voted for him in 2020.

I mean, it is such an indictment of the Republican party, it is such an indictment of our media, and it is a huge disservice to those of us who actually, not just believe in democracy, but are fighting for it.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah. I think the body politic is such a helpful characterization as a metaphor for what we are going through, the metastases that we're experiencing. And to draw the metaphor out, the lack of antibodies.

Like we have not figured out how to counter this new strain of anti-democratic virulence.

And if there's a question here, I guess it's why are the bad guys doing so well? I mean, you could say they always have and quit whining. It's an unfair world.

But I feel like the point of progress, the point of society is to elevate our better angels and discourage bad actors. And just the opposite seems to be happening now. Bad actors are rewarded.

Feel free to talk about what happened last night. We'll rush the production of this show, because I want your commentary on that. But it highlighted the absolute worst in our politics, in our media, in our body politic, when you saw that crowd cheer his mockery of a sexual abuse victim.

Mary Trump:

Yeah, I couldn't watch it. It was bad enough to read about it or to follow the threads on Twitter of those brave souls who were live tweeting it. But wow, yeah, there's just so much there.

I love the idea of the fact that we haven't built up antibodies. And I think that's again, because we have a system in place that was designed from the very beginning to be anti-democratic, the structural inequality that is done on purpose.

And especially people who benefit from that system, they're not going to question it, it works for them. And when there's any suggestion made that it's unfair, they get very defensive. So, nothing gets done.

And what I find really fascinating, like if you say to somebody, the electoral college, forget about the history of it, just in terms of how it operates. It is a deeply unfair anti-democratic system that should not exist in a democracy. Every other democracy in the world elects their leaders by popular vote.

So, somebody like literally Joe Biden didn't win the election by 8 million votes, he won it by 77,000. And 34,000 people go the other way, he still wins the popular vote by 8 million votes and he's not president. Like that's not fair.

And they're just like, “Oh, well, what are you going to do?” Because it benefits them.

So, when huge media outlets like CNN decide to put their thumbs on the scale, in addition to that, we're at a point of potentially no return. I mean, we're certainly at a breaking point. And to find out not only that they agreed to do it, but they approached Donald, so he had all of the negotiating power.

And based on what I saw, he got everything he wanted. Otherwise he wouldn't have done it. He got the format, he got the right kind of (whatever she was there for, I don't even know) moderator, not really sure, tour guide, whatever she was.

And he got not just a friendly audience, but an audience of followers who'd voted for him. I mean, it literally was a rally on a CNN set.

And so, we see that the same problems from 2016 where he got over a billion dollars in free advertising, it's already happening. Those wheels are already turning.

Actually that started with the indictment when once again we had all the endless footage of planes on tarmacs, and planes in the air, and his car driving down the highway. It's like, “Oh my God, I swear if you had told me it was footage from 2016, I would've believed you.”

So, we're up against so much. And again, the problem is that things are worse now, which is shocking to the system. If you had said to me in 2020, November 7th when Joe Biden was declared the winner and everybody heaved a huge sigh of relief.

If you had told me that three years later things would be worse, I would not have believed you. And they are.

Ken Harbaugh:

They are. You tore into CNN on Twitter. I'm going to read that back to you and then I got a question.

You said, “In less than an hour, they allowed an authoritarian wannabe to lie constantly while an audience full of his followers applauded. This was not a town hall, it was a rally. Tonight's CNN’s fiasco was a tragedy for American democracy.” I'm with you.

Because I want to hear this point of view, what do you make of those who say that CNN may have done us a favor by putting the former president in front of an audience that he could comfortably perform for so the rest of us could be reminded of who he really is?

Mary Trump:

Well, first of all, they're not going to do that for Joe Biden. So, I'll say that, but even if they did, that's not the point. This is allegedly a news organization. They are not crews directors, they are not party planners. And their job is to make sure that the American people receive factual information.

The truth about Donald Trump. We know the truth about Donald Trump. We don't need to give him that kind of platform to show people … yeah, I suppose there is this … I don't even know if it's not a serious argument. But okay, so, if you need to take something away from it, yes, we got to see what a vicious bully he is, because that's news.

We got to see that he is dedicated to an extreme right wing agenda, also, not news, because he's going to do whatever the Republican party tells him to do if he wants their support.

He continued to defame a woman who prevailed against him in a court of law. I don't care what Marco Rubio says. That is the American justice system at its finest, and anybody who attacks the process or who attacks that jury is a part of the problem.

Yeah, we got to see who his followers are. I don't know, did you guys watch January 6th? Have you seen his rallies? We know who these people are. I don't think that's a reason, I don't think it's an excuse for the egregious decision that CNN made, at all.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah. My underlying fear here is less a fear of Donald Trump as an individual than of the tens of millions of followers who actually gravitate to that message.

Mary Trump:


Ken Harbaugh:

And as you said, it doesn't require a majority of Americans, the Republicans are being very strategic in how to create and solidify a system that will allow them to maintain power with a minority of votes.

And you saw the response of that crowd, and I think it is the tip of the iceberg. It is just a harbinger of what's going to play out in these swing states.

And again, it's not the tens of millions of voters in California, and New York, and most of the country, it's in a handful of swing states and too many of them love that message. So, seeing him for who he is, it's going to bring out the worst side of us.

And that's something you speak about in the book as well, this president giving America permission to indulge its worst instincts.

Mary Trump:

Yeah. And the very beginning of the show, you mentioned voter suppression. And that is why the electoral college makes this so dangerous.

If there were no electoral college, we wouldn't even have to have this … well, we would have to have this conversation because the developments are so dangerous, but we wouldn't be worried about the election. That's for sure. Not in the way … I mean, we're white knuckling this right now.

And the Republicans know that they only have to focus on three states. And again, to those people who support the electoral college, do you think that's democracy when candidates literally can ignore 47 of the 50 states? It's just absolutely absurd.

But that's why they have three tools at their disposal. They have gerrymandering, they have voter inversion, and thanks to Donald, (who really can take credit for very little, but he can take credit for this one) we have voter subversion.

Which is the idea that the election results are illegitimate if your candidate doesn't win. And that's only happening on the right.

So, if you put on top of that, the media's willingness to normalize Donald, like to treat him as if he's a normal candidate, not somebody who was impeached twice, who planned, and incited an insurrection, and who perpetuated the big lie and continues to perpetuate the big lie.

And that's leaving aside Georgia, that's leaving aside sexual assault, and all of the other many crimes he committed and allegedly committed.

Then when they're also, normalizing his followers, that's when we get into real trouble because as you say, there's nothing normal about their relationship to their candidate, their support for their candidate, the things about him they support.

I've always thought that one of the purposes of liberal democracy was to kind of wall off that 25 to 28% of us, the white supremacists, the Christian nationalists, the misogynists, the anti-Semites. And yes, they get their vote, but they don't get an outsized voice in how things are done.

And a lot of people forget that between 2017 and 2019, that 28% was represented by a 100% of the federal government. The Republicans had the White House, they had Congress, and they had the Supreme Court.

So, that percentage grew because it suddenly became okay again, to be openly white nationalist, openly somebody who prefers AR-15s to the lives of our children and on and on and on. And yeah, we saw that exemplified pretty well last night, didn't we?

Ken Harbaugh:

We did. And the power of that movement is growing and as you put it in another recent interview, white supremacy is now, the political platform of one of our two major political parties.

It is not indicative of where a majority of Americans are, but that doesn't matter when you have a political strategy that is refined enough to focus on those 77,000 votes. You can regain power and remain in power for a long time, even though majority of Americans don't want that.

Mary Trump:

Listen, Ken, that's exactly the problem with the Supreme Court right now. It doesn't matter that 70 to 80% of us want policies that are diametrically the opposite of what the Supreme Court is doing.

And when so often you hear people saying, “Well, we're going to be stuck with this court for generations.” And I say, “Why? It's illegitimate, it is flying in the face of what the American people want.”

And I understand there are times in our history when the Supreme Court does have to go up against the majority because the majority is wrong. And Brown v. Board would be an example of that.

But this Supreme Court is so bad, is so anti-American, and is committing … like they literally are doing things that are unconstitutional, which is fascinating. And listen, I know the Supreme Court's been doing that forever, but that doesn't mean they should be allowed to.

So, again, it's just another example of how it's built into the system. And we need to figure out, we need to become much more wily and sophisticated about how we counter this.

And I'm very sorry, elected Democrats, but continuing to pretend that your colleagues are sincere and want the same things you want ultimately, which is a strong, healthy democracy, is kind of going to get us all killed.

Ken Harbaugh:

What's it going to take? Because I think you and I would agree that we're at an historical reflection point on the level of 1789 or the end of the Civil War. And you've made this observation that at almost every step of the way in our history, there were opportunities to make this country more democratic, more open, and more equitable.

Instead the North became more segregated and the South continued to be a closed fascist state referring to the end of the Civil War and reconstruction. The political will to do the right thing was lacking. And one could argue that a scaffolding upon which a fully democratic society could be sustained had not yet been built.

I feel like we're approaching another chance to do it right. There is a climax on the horizon when a hundred million plus Americans have had it and are going to demand the kind of structural change that maybe includes something as dramatic as reforming the Supreme Court.

I want to talk about Clarence Thomas in a minute. That's sort of my instigator here, but something's got to give, right?

Mary Trump:

Yeah. Well, you would think. But I have to be honest, I thought that during the George W. Bush administration, that we're not going to just stand here and continue to take this, are we? And we did.

So, I don't know if something's going to give, and I've wondered why that might be the case. And I think it's because so much … like this is a multi-front war and just acknowledging that alone is kind of shocking to the system. Fighting on all of those fronts at once is exhausting.

And I think because we have gun violence, I'm not entirely sure how many times we can let our children be massacred by murderers with semi-automatic weapons before we decide to do something about it.

And because those of us who want to do something about it have no power, and those who do have power have no conscience, I worry that a lot of people are just going to be like, “You know what, I can't. I just can't even deal with anymore.”

And we could say that about one of the issues we're talking about, the war on reproductive rights. The fact that women are second class citizens in more than half of the states right now, the fact that they're clearly gunning for birth control and privacy and Obergefell to make marriage equality a thing of the past and on and on and on.

So, I think if we look at all of those issues separately, it is overwhelming and a lot of us get short circuited. I think what we need to do is realize that it's all the same issue.

This is simply about the fact that Republicans are taking advantage of weaknesses in the system because they have no morality, they have no ethics, and they care for nothing beyond their own personal power and the power of the party.

They will do everything they can to make sure that the Republicans have permanent minority rule. Like I swear, I think that the goal for people like Mitch McConnell and a lot of the Supreme Court justices, actually six of the Supreme Court justices or maybe only five, but still that's enough to turn America into a theocratic apartheid state.

So, if we look at it as that, and yes, everything else is still going on at once, but it's all in the service of that one thing, then we are fighting against that one thing. And if we prevail, we'll prevail on everything else.

Ken Harbaugh:

I would love your insight as a clinical psychologist into one of those Supreme Court justices in particular. And I've been thinking a lot about the power of humiliation and in particular, public humiliation to break a person.

And I suppose you could go one of two ways. You could either learn from it, and grow from it, and try to become a better person. But I think all too often, especially powerful men react to that in the way that Clarence Thomas seems to be reacting.

Which is that the world owes me something and that whatever criticism I draw now, is merely an extension of that unfair, as he called it, digital lynching, and that he deserves any of the gifts and favors coming his way because in his mind he feels he was wronged.

Can you talk about the power of public humiliation on the psyche of someone like Clarence Thomas? And if you want to extend it to family members, feel free.

Mary Trump:

Have anybody in mind? Yeah. Well, first of all, yes, dude, Clarence Thomas was so wronged that he got a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

Okay, Clarence, I mean, maybe Bork could make that claim, although she shouldn't have been on the Supreme Court either. But Clarence Thomas has no business making that claim.

So, I don't know. His whole life seems to be operating behind the defense mechanism of reaction formation, which is that he's always railing against things that he's guilty of. He's always railing against affirmative action and the welfare state.

And I can't think of anybody who has benefited from versions of those things more than Clarence Thomas.

The problem, and I think we learned this much to our horror in 2016 and 2017 and beyond, is that there are people in the highest levels of government who are either impervious to public humiliation, impervious to being shamed, impervious to claims of hypocrisy being thrown at them.

Which makes it, I think, impossible to deal with them appropriately because there are no mechanisms in place to deal with politicians and Supreme Court justices who don't care at all about what the wrong kind of people are saying about them.

Now, I'm not suggesting … I mean, obviously, I don't know Clarence Thomas, thankfully. And I don't know him as a public figure well enough to have any insight into what's going on.

But if he's anything like Donald, (in which case, yikes, but he probably is) both of them feel humiliation, very keenly.

Like for Donald, humiliation is the thing he most cannot allow himself to feel. He will do anything to avoid feeling humiliated. And if he does, he buries it immediately. He buries it with rage, he buries it with cruelty.

And I think that's why we see him in the wake of the trial in New York, the defamation trial in which he was found liable for committing sexual assault and defamation, in the wake of the indictment in New York for … there's so many things it's hard to keep track of.

In the election fraud case in which he paid hush money to a woman with whom he had an affair right after his wife had their first child together.

He doesn't fade away. He comes out swinging and often to his legal detriment, but to the benefit of his primary campaign. So, I do not think there is anything we can do.

Getting back to Clarence Thomas. He's not going to recuse himself ever. He's not going to resign. John Roberts isn't going to do a damn thing about it.

So, unless and until the Senate judiciary (currently led by Democrats by the way, although who would know) and President Biden are willing to take serious steps to reform this out of control illegitimate court, all that's going to happen is we're going to continue to hear revelations about how corrupt Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito are, and probably Brett Kavanaugh too. That's it.

Ken Harbaugh:

In the time we have left, I want another clinical psychologist's insight.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to come around to the realization that the bullies I encountered were actually pitiful characters. They were all invariably from broken homes and they were bullying as a way of compensating for something.

You have described your uncle as a scared little five year old. That story of the mashed potatoes maybe I can link to in the show, I'm not going to ask you to rehash it again. But it just captures every little bully I ever knew. Is there ever a part of you that feels sorry for your uncle?

Mary Trump:

No, not at all. Although, what I will say is … because listen, I know plenty of people who've had much worse childhoods without the benefit of the enormous advantages that he experienced, who turned out to be decent, kind, empathetic, productive human beings. So, there's no excuse for what he does and who he's chosen to become.

But if you read my first book which is mostly about my family, I would hope that people come away having a great deal of compassion for the five children, including Donald and my father, who are raised by sociopath, my grandfather on the one hand, and a deeply personality disordered mother on the other hand.

So, listen, bullies, serial killers, all sorts of horrible people had terrible childhoods. And we should have compassion for that, the children and what they experience. But that's a very separate issue.

Donald Trump, as he currently exists, deserves none of our compassion and all of our enmity, and we should do everything in our power to make sure that he never, ever ascends to any office in which he has power over the lives of the American people.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah, I'm with you. My sympathy for bullies ends when they have the nuclear codes, probably a lot before that, really.

Mary Trump:

You could. Wow, that was stark, but true.

Ken Harbaugh:

Well, Mary, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Really appreciate your time.

I have one more question for you. I don't know if we'll include it, but I'm curious, in all the years that you have born this burden of having to talk about your family, is there one question you wished you'd be asked that no one ever does?

Mary Trump:

I kind of wish people asked more about my dad because that relationship is sort of paradigmatic of so many other relationships he's had in his life. Because my father obviously, had had issues, but he's the only person in my family who was actually self-made.

When he decided to become a professional pilot, not only did he receive no support, he was vilified by my grandfather, who was a very powerful person in his children's lives. To the extent that my dad ended up quitting.

Like that was the start of his drinking problem. He was finally doing something he loved and was extraordinarily good at. I mean, he's 25 year old out of training at the TWA facility in Kansas City. And he gets moved to Logan and he gets handed — he's a co-pilot on the Logan to LAX run. I mean, that's pretty, pretty good for 25 year old kid.

So, he was a consummate pilot, and boatman, and fisherman as well. And yet it was the wrong thing. So, he got utterly destroyed by his family and Donald like stepped right over him to fill the void. Because of course, Freddy Trump Jr. was supposed to be the man who took over the empire.

But he was deemed unfit because he was doing what was at the time, probably the most highly respected and coolest professions on the planet. He was a professional pilot for TWA.

Ken Harbaugh:

And that was seen as a threat. I'm projecting a little bit here, but was that why he was cast out?

Mary Trump:

My grandfather couldn't have cared less. Like he only cared about real estate. He believed that what he did was the only thing that should be done and everything else was useless and a waste of time. Donald perceived the threat because he knew how cool it was.

And I mean, also, my dad (not that it should matter, but it certainly mattered to Donald) was incredibly handsome. And just like this incredibly handsome guy, he was a second lieutenant in the National Guard and now, he's a pilot for TWA.

Which was, as you probably know, I mean, not the biggest, I think Pan Am was the biggest, but it was certainly the like most chic airlines of its time. Yeah, so, Donald definitely took that in, that's for sure.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah, I shared this with you before, but I'll share it with the audience. My mom tells me that the first three letters I learned flying back and forth from Europe where my dad was stationed, to the States from my childhood were TW and A because we always took that transatlantic flight, so.

Mary Trump:

I just love that. And you probably got the wings and you probably got the kit bag, all the swag.

Ken Harbaugh:

Back when you could ride up front if you were a kid and cute enough. I'm not sure I was, but they let me into the cockpit. And you could like practically sit on the pilot's laps. Our kids will never understand those days.

Mary Trump:


Ken Harbaugh:

Just enormous respect for someone like your dad who can carve his own path and do it in such a badass way. That's tough on so many levels and I hope more people ask you about him.

Mary Trump:

Oh, thanks Ken. I really appreciate it.

Ken Harbaugh:

It's been great having you, Mary.

Mary Trump:

It's been great to be here. Thank you.

Ken Harbaugh:

Thanks again to Mary for joining me. Make sure to check out her podcast, the Mary Trump Show and her books, which are linked in the show description.

Thanks for listening to Burn the Boats. If you have any feedback, please email the team at [email protected]. We're always looking to improve the show.

For updates and more, follow us on Twitter @Team_Harbaugh. And if you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to rate and review.

Burn the Boats is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Our producer is Declan Rohrs and Sean Rule-Hoffman is our audio engineer. Special thanks to Evergreen executive producers, Joan Andrews, Michael DeAloia, and David Moss.

I'm Ken Harbaugh and this is Burn the Boats. A podcast about big decisions.

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