Trump’s Base, Ahab, and the American Dream


  • Inez Martinez



victim complex, Trump's base, Ahab, American dream, white supremacy, individualism


This transdisciplinary study argues that the fury of President Trump’s base can be understood as a victim complex, one caused by the erosion of the dominance of white males that existed at the founding of America. The preamble of the Declaration of Independence became an iconic articulation of the American dream, unintentionally establishing a contradiction between the ideas that all people are created equal and that individuals have an unlimited right to pursue happiness. Analysis of Ahab of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick reveals connections between Ahab’s victim complex and the behavior and attitudes of Trump’s base. Analysis of Ishmael’s survival suggests ways the American dream as articulated in the Declaration of Independence needs to be dreamed forward. His survival through interdependence and an embrace of diversity suggests a way to re-vision the American dream so as to incorporate psychological determinants, including the limitations of the ego, in the understanding of freedom and happiness. Revisioning the individual pursuit of happiness as limited by the common good furthers the dream of equality under the law and could help free white supremacists from their entrapment in a victim complex convincing them of their entitlement to dominate others.