In the October issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows takes an interesting look at what the presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — the first of which happens next Monday — will be like. Nestled within that story, which serves as a history lesson on televised presidential debates, is an observation made by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. Fallows recalls a conversation he had with Goodall just before Trump clinched the GOP nomination. “In many ways, the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Goodall told him. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays — stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”
Sound familiar at all? Fallows then goes on to recall a particular chimp Goodall wrote about in her book My Life With the Chimpanzees. His name was Mike and he was notorious for deploying many of the techniques Trump has found success using to maintain his dominance over the other chimps. Things like “creating confusion and noise that made his rivals flee and cower.” Trump, Fallows writes, dispatched his 17 opponents “as Goodall’s Mike the chimp might if he could talk.”
Fallows argues that televised debates give Trump all of the encouragement he needs to be like Mike and express his dominance over an opponent. And he pointed out a 2007 video of Trump that he recently saw and which crystallized this concept — even though it occurred a decade ago and in a remotely different type of venue. For her part, Goodall said she’d be thinking about Mike the chimp when she watches the debate. And now we will too.
Read the full story at The Atlantic.