Back when Il Trumpe was in the White House, I would describe the predictive power of Trump’s narcissism, since it explained his behavior quite well (and I was one of the first to do so–that’s how obvious his narcissism is). One point I would note is that narcissists are ill and that illness manifests in part as delusion.
This brings us to North Carolina state representative Tricia Cothom, who switched parties, providing Republicans a key vote to essentially ban abortion in North Carolina–this after running campaigns where she described the necessity of her own abortion and how she would always defend legal and safe abortions. When the story broke, I argued this was garden-variety narcissism based on her claims of betrayal, and, well, it seems I was correct (boldface mine):
Naturally, everyone would like to know what could possibly motivate a politician to abandon their whole platform, their constituents, and their dignity so suddenly and dramatically. We reported last week on the possibility that Cotham, a former charter school lobbyist, traded a vote on the abortion bill in order to co-chair the Education Committee. When she announced her defection, she said it was in part because she’d been “bullied by her fellow Democrats and had grown alienated from the party on issues like school choice,” per the New York Times. (Cotham has not responded to Jezebel’s requests for comment.)
But Coby, in whom she confided about her decision to switch parties, said it wasn’t really about any genuinely held beliefs, political issues, or even money. “I wish I could say that she took a giant bag of cash at an IHOP and that’s why she did this—but it’s so much dumber than that,” he said. “It’s just a deeply petty, personal thing.”
…When Cotham told Coby she was thinking of switching parties about two days before the news broke, he says she was stuck on the idea that her Democratic colleagues didn’t like her. “The Democrats don’t want me, and the Republicans have helped me out a lot,” he recalled her saying.
As local media has reported, Cotham felt Democrats had repeatedly slighted her since her January swearing-in—including criticizing her for using the American flag and prayer hands emojis online and supposedly not clapping for her when the Republican House Speaker recognized her on International Women’s Day as the youngest woman ever elected to the State House. (Local news reported that Democrats did in fact clap for her, but as her mom recalled to a local reporter, Cotham had said of the perceived slight, “That really hurt. This was women’s history. And they couldn’t even clap for me?”) Cotham also bristled at criticism for missing a vote that let Republicans repeal a gun permit law.
Cotham had also been annoyed that Planned Parenthood didn’t endorse her, despite her self-described “very powerful” speech on abortion rights. During her campaign, she’d sought the endorsement of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic—the affiliate serving North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia—and filled out their questionnaire, writing that she’d “been an unwavering advocate for abortion rights” and citing her 2015 speech about her medically necessary abortion following a miscarriage. “If elected, I will continue to work hand-in-hand with Planned Parenthood and allied groups to protect abortion rights and access and oppose anti-choice legislation,” she wrote.
But then she blew off the actual endorsement interview for the group multiple times. A PPSAT spokesperson told Jezebel, “Rep. Cotham’s campaign scheduled numerous candidate interviews with our board (the board endorses candidates), but she did not attend any of the interviews,” which is why they didn’t endorse her…
“The only thing that I can say for sure about Tricia Cotham from here on out is that she will always be the victim,” Coby said. “That is just who she believes herself to be, just a victim of life.”
One of her major grievances, such as they are, is completely untrue. It is make believe. The other grievance is due to her laziness and ineptitude (if you want the endorsement, then fucking show up). Delusion and ineptitude leading to a sense of betrayal is classic narcissism. This is the essential difference: assholes are aware of reality, they just don’t care; narcissists are delusional, even high-functioning ones.
It’s so disappointing, but there is a chance that she’ll do the right thing so she can bring the focus of attention back to her. Then again, we are dealing with a narcissist.