Navigate / search

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.























About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
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 InstagramFacebook & Twitter. Her book The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women are available now. Dr. Hanks is currently accepting coaching clients <a href="/coaching



Dr. Hanks, I often agree with what you write. I cannot tell you my disgust with Trump and would not vote for him if I was paid to do so. I’m very disappointed, however, in your endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Do you know that she silenced her husband’s rape victims? Do you know that when she advocated for “women’s rights,” that is nothing more than a euphemism to describe the horrific act of abortion (which could have taken anyone’s life-yours, mine, or anyone who now enjoys the privilege of life). And if you are to say, “I believe in women’s right to choose,” please understand that trying to remain neutral in times of injustice puts you on the side of the perpetrator. Why do you get to live while others do not have that same legal privilege?

I’m glad your choosing to publicly condemn Donald Trump. I hope you will as strongly condemn Hillary Clinton. We don’t need to play this game of “the lesser of two evils.” Let’s stand for TRUTH. I’d love to read Eisler’s work. Hillary does not represent partnership at all.


curious how you can choose to vote for Hillary over a true conservative candidate like Evan McMullin?


If you are truly a Mormon do you not believe in forgiveness. He only said words like most mid-age but she has lied numerous times, let our military down, deleted official emails if anyone else had done they would be in jail. Martha Stewart good example hers didn’t hurt country security. I’m disappointed in you. A true woman isn’t hurt by words and can defend do themself against a man. God is the only one who can judge or is that not your belief. You are being judgemental


Unfortunately, Hillary’s actual partner is Bill Clinton. He should not be allowed to return to The White House. In addition to his many alleged acts, he abused and degraded the office of the Presidency and the young people working for him literally and figuratively.


I agree with Heather. Hillary aligns only with the socialist ideals. She is as anti-American as it gets. She has armed terrorists, created chaos wherever she has been allowed to exercise power, and now because of events like exposing Trump for the predator and fraud we’ve always known he was Hillary gets to do what she has always dreamed of doing and destroy America.

So what is the actual solution? Folks, there is none. Not in D.C., not in any government body. The answer is to hold on to your values and live by your principles, so that when the darkness becomes so thick you cannot hold a light within it you can be led by the power of your choices to safe places.

The solution is not the lesser of two evils because they’re both evil. The solution is you and your faith.


Dr. Hanks, I applaud the fact that you did deep soul searching on this important decision. These are troubling times both here in the United States and across the rest of the globe. The best we can do is look forward and make sure we elect leadership that represents our highest aspirations and hopes for the future. While Hillary may be flawed (and who among us isn’t), she does represent the “partnership” you speak of. I envision her as someone who will work to minimize our differences and “reach across the aisle” to get the important work of our government accomplished. I’m tired of hearing about electing someone who is looking to turn things upside down and blow the political establishment in Washington to pieces.

Sure, we’re all upset with the way the economy took a downward turn during this last recession. I lost my job and have struggled to find work. I did lose my economic standing, but not my hope for the future. I will vote for Hillary because we need a stable minded person who can work with opposing forces to move in a single, upward direction.


Thank you for not judging Donald or Hillary but for explaining how each candidate embodies and supports the cultural characteristics that you believe either strengthen or weaken our country. You’ve given us another perspective to consider as we head into the polling booth.

Jeffrey Lee

I appreciate your insight and I agree with your decision. I do wonder why it took the final Trump Tape to set your thoughts in motion. Was there not plenty of evidence out there already that would cause you this introspection and analysis? Christian ideals and values (more particularly Mormon ones) not to mention Republican Party platforms over the years all pointed to the thought that this man was neither a Republican nor a Christian. I am not saying you are wrong, just the contrary. But for a professional therapist bwho self-describes as an assertiveness advocate for women you are very late to this revelation.

Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW

Thank you for your respectful comment, Jeffrey. The Trump tape didn’t set my thoughts in motion, however, it did prompt me to offer my perspective on this election publicly. As a psychotherapist, I primarily write about mental health, family relationships, and women’s emotional health issues so this my first political commentary.

Jason Barker

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I agree with your assessment of Trump. It’s spot on.

I have a question for you. Would you consider Evan McMullin ( I don’t know if you’ve heard of him or have had time to look into his campaign but I’ve been impressed with him all around, other than the fact that he’s late to the party (but he’s the first to admit it). He talks a lot about uniting Americans and I’ve followed a number of interviews he’s given as well as articles written about him. I feel he’s a very forward thinking conservative that has the temperament and wisdom to lead America. And his running mate, Mindy Finn, is pretty sharp from an interview I heard with her. If you’re still interested in finding someone you can really support, someone who aligns more closely with your values, it might be worth your time to check them out.

Anyway, best of luck and thanks again!

Leave a comment


email* (not published)