By Carlos Alberto Montaner
The uprising against the Alpha Male continues.
They're going for the jugular.
First came the open letter signed by 94 Republican-leaning experts on international relations. They warned that Donald Trump was a danger to the United States and the world. The strange jumble of hair that crowned his head reflected the disorderly chaos that existed in his cranium. He had few ideas, but all were confoundedly bad and dangerous.
Then came Mitt Romney's public statement. He was direct and corrosive. He called Trump “a con man, a fake.” And, with other words, he explained that such a man could not represent the party of Abraham Lincoln, especially after the enthusiastic support he received from the KKK.
The night of Thursday, March 3, the rebellion spread to a debate organized by the Fox network. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz carried out an effective pincers operation against the candidate who, until now, heads the platoon of Republican hopefuls to the White House. John R. Kasich, governor of Ohio, stayed on the margins of the debate. He performed the role of a statesman interested in discussing the big issues, not the personal traits.
Maybe Kasich was wrong. The problem with Trump is not his ideas but he himself. Nobody knows what Donald Trump's ideas are. In fact, nobody has credited him with having ideas, except for the experts' open letter, which says that they're “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.” Trump spouts slogans, blurts phrases. Is he a dove, a hawk, a plane? He is Superman. He is Donald Trump.
He is known to be a successful entrepreneur who, without saying it in so many words, advocates protectionism and abhors globalization, like so many populists who decry economic freedom and international commerce, but he himself made sure to repeat it: he is the leader. He has won in ten states and people vote for him.
Who votes for him? In general, beta males and females. Several decades ago, the ethologists who study the primates, our closest relatives, sought to find out how authority was established between chimpanzees and gorillas.
Some monkeys gave orders and others obeyed, that was obvious, but how was that hierarchy generated?
The leaders were more ferocious, stronger, even larger, more aggressive and dominant. They bared their teeth, thumped their chests, intimidated the group. Sometimes, they had a providential strip of white hair down their backs, a visual sign of the authority they claimed.
They were called alpha males. They had a vital urgency to command, which brought to them certain material rewards. They ate first, paired with more females and spread their genes abundantly. The packs of monkeys with the strongest and most aggressive alpha males were more likely to prevail. It seemed to be a strategy of survival of the species. An obscure biological instinct etched in the DNA during its long evolutional process.
The betas subordinated themselves to the alphas. They followed them, obeyed their orders and grunts, and did not hesitate to display signs of allegiance. They bowed, raised their hands palms up or covered their genitals with them. They were troops, not chiefs. Somehow, that submission brought to them a certain security.
From the primitive alpha-beta link came our social fabric. Therefrom derive, for example, the patriarchate, the despotic kings and the chieftains.
Many people need a strongman, an alpha male, especially in times of insecurity. Erich Fromm described this, in another way, in The Fear of Freedom. Earlier, it was expressed by some especially abject Spaniards: “Not for us, Your Majesty, the pernicious foible of thinking,” the authorities at the University of Cervera told King Ferdinand VII (an alpha male if there ever was one) in the early 19th Century.
“Long live the chains!” The masses want people who make the adequate decisions for them. They don't want to think. They are formed by beta men and women. That's the story of Hitler, Mussolini and Fidel Castro. When the Cubans shouted loudly, “If Fidel is a communist, then put me on the list,” or when they repeated the slogan “Commander in chief, command,” they were primates bent over, their palms upraised. They were a pitiful pack of betas.
Will the Republican leaders be able to stop Trump? I don't know. The number of viewers who have watched the debates is about 12 million people -- 5% of this enormous country.
Anxiety increases with every poll made.
In the latest, both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would defeat Hillary Clinton. Trump would lose to her. Even Bernie Sanders, the socialist, would beat Trump.
Alpha males lose, too. The Republican hierarchs know that. Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest book is the novel A Time for Scoundrels.