Scholars and children alike can articulate the traits of narcissism that Donald Trump wears proudly: exaggerated sense of self-importance, entitlement, exaggeration of personal achievement, pattern of taking advantage of others and inability or unwillingness to consider the needs of others.

And yet what is really terrifying is how Trump’s modeling and leadership have now evoked narcissistic traits in many of our elected officials. As we painfully endure this impeachment trial, the analysis is focused on a few senators who may or may not put their political ambitions aside in order to think ethically and broadly about the needs of our Constitution, rule of law and the democratic process. Repeatedly what I keep hearing is the powerful drive of career trajectories and maneuvering around avoiding political suicide. When did elected officials dissolve into individuals who are predominantly unable or unwilling to consider the needs of others, instead so focused on themselves and their individual careers?

Bernd Heinrich, a biology professor at the University of Vermont, in 1989 published a book called “Ravens in Winter” following a walk in the Maine woods, where he observed altruistic behavior in birds. His book in part describes the observation of wild animals as selfless, collaborative and behaving for the greater good of their community.

I urge Susan Collins to be driven by altruism and ethics as she navigates these delicate days ahead, and to put her personal career trajectory aside. Surely, she possesses at least the selfless skills of a Maine raven?

Jesse Sokol


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