Partnership Trumps Domination: What’s really at stake in this US Presidential Election
After watching the “Trump Tape” yesterday and hearing Donald brag about sexual assault, I can no longer stay silent. Trump epitomizes the dominator model of leadership. Trump is not an outsider. He is the embodiment of hierarchical ranking and abuse of power through fear force and violence (particularly against women and minorities) that is at the heart of all of our current social problems and global crises.
This 2016 presidential election isn’t about the candidates, Hillary or Trump. It’s about choosing the fate of our future and the fundamental model by which we will organize: domination or partnership.
This 2016 presidential election isn’t about the candidates, Hillary or Trump. It’s about choosing the fate of our future and the fundamental model by which we will organize. Chronic violence, cultural clashes, terrorism, and threats of using nuclear weapons, along with the depletion of our natural resources and environment — are all warning signs that we cannot continue on our current trajectory of domination.
Cultural transformation theory
In her landmark book, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, social scientist, attorney and equal rights advocate, Riane Eisler challenged a commonly held belief that human beings are historically and inherently selfish, violent, and competitive. Her research and interpretation of history presented other glimpses into peaceful, equitable, and highly advanced human societies that have existed in the past. Eisler found that “Gender equality and a more peaceful way of life, [have] ancient roots going back thousands of years.”
Eisler’s analysis proposed a cultural theory that provides a simple yet highly useful lens through which to view the way humans interact interpersonally, and as a society. Eisler’s model of human relationships suggests that societies tend to orient toward either a domination model or a partnership model. “The struggle for our future is not between East and West, North and South, religion or secularism, capitalism or socialism, but within all these. It is the struggle between those who cling to patterns of domination and those working for a more equitable partnership world,” says Eisler.
Dominator – Partnership continuum
The basis of a dominator society is ranking or hierarchy enforced by privileged power that imposes its view or agenda onto others, resulting in institutionalized unfairness, harms, or even violence. Characteristics and work associated with males and stereotyped beliefs about “masculinity” are privileged, while female work and traditionally held “feminine” traits, such as empathy, caring about others, and compromising are devalued. Conformity to the perspective of privileged power is valued, rewarded while non-conformity is dismissed, invalidated, or punished. This results in an “us” vs. “them” or “in group”/”out group” mentality, which harms not only those who don’t conform, but the entire system or society.
In contrast, partnership societies are organized by linking and governed by hierarchies of actualization wherein male and female leaders work together for the good of all, or “power to” lift the entire group. The spectrum of human behavior is celebrated. Differences are not a problem but a necessary strength. Valuing diversity, engaging disagreement productively, and caring for other human beings, especially the vulnerable, are core partnership societal values. Mutual solutions to conflict are actively sought.
Domination is THE problem
Humanity’s reliance on dominator relations has resulted in endless harms to individuals and societies and perpetuates violence, war, and terror. Dominator models are dangerous for global relationships, communications, interdependence, and peace. We are at a point in human history where the risks of dominator relations are too great. We need partnership models — at all levels of society.
Conservatives and liberals blame one another for the social problems we face. Yet the causes aren’t located in one political party or social class or ethnicity or culture, or even in the seemingly complex and insurmountable issues of a radically diverse global community. The causes are more universal, rooted in human needs and social patterns.
While no system or society is entirely organized by principles of either domination or partnership, it’s possible to identify these characteristics within any system or society, including American culture. We can also see dominator and partnership leadership styles in the current U.S. presidential race. Our presidential nominees, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, tend to embody and represent the the values of domination and partnership.
We can also see dominator and partnership leadership styles in the current U.S. presidential race. Our presidential nominees, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, tend to embody and represent the the values of domination and partnership.
Trump embodies domination
Trump’s rhetoric consistently points toward a dominator model fueled by self-aggrandizement (“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you that”) and the idealization of stereotypical notions of “masculinity.” His campaign centers on themes of fear, force, and “power over” others. Trump has belittled Mexicans, Muslims, women, African-Americans, bragged about sexually assaulting women (as evidenced by the recent #TrumpTapes), consistently made comments that degrade women, and continues to post hundreds of mean-spirited comments on social media about a variety of individuals and organizations. When talking about immigration Trump has said that he’d prioritize the deportation of 5 to 6.5 million people and build a wall between the US and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it. While he talks about improving and protecting America, he uses fear as a primary motivating force.
When human beings are scared, we tend to seek certainty and security. Darwin’s notion of “survival of the fittest” as justification for violence and force comes to mind when I consider what Trump represents. What is lesser known about Darwin’s theory of evolution is that he wrote much more “love” and “moral sensitivity” as the pinnacles and drivers of evolution than he ever did mere survival. These seemingly “softer” values are represent movement toward partnership.
Clinton represents partnership
Clinton’s rhetoric contains partnership themes. While I acknowledge serious concerns about her judgment and choices, Hillary’s policies and platforms seem to demonstrate an awareness of our shared humanity, and an appreciation for diversity. She actively advocates for women’s rights, family-friendly policies such as FMLA, and shows compassion and concern for refugees and immigrants through putting forth policies that try to balance the law with moral sensitivity. Her book It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us acknowledges the need for collaboration, partnership, and community to meet the needs of children and families.
I choose partnership
Yet, ultimately, the 2016 presidential election isn’t about voting for Hillary or Trump or their administration — it’s about voting for leadership styles of domination or partnership.
I believe that understanding this election, and our global well-being, requires recognizing and choosing partnership over domination. Partnership trumps domination because it’s the only way to honor difference, integrate perspectives, utilize experience, solve conflicts, and begin to address the complexity of the challenges we face. Partnership is the only possible path to creating a healthy, solid, humane, and enlightened society.
So, I will cast my vote not for a candidate, but for the leadership and societal model that they represent and employ. I choose partnership, which means I will choose Hillary Clinton.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her book The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women are available now.