Election 2016

Jane Goodall: Trump Reminds Me of 'Male Chimpanzees and Their Dominance Rituals'

Trump's power grab is not unique in the animal kingdom.

Photo Credit: Michael Vadon / Wikimedia Commons

If this election cycle reminds you of some horrifying Planet of the Apes sequel, you’re not alone. In the latest issue of the Atlantic, legendary primate expert Jane Goodall told writer James Fallows that GOP nominee Donald Trump’s mannerisms remind her of “male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals.”

“In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks,” Goodall said. “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.”

In many ways, Trump’s meteoric rise to political relevance was accomplished through patterns of dominance displayed by the candidate, and bolstered by the relative lack of dominance demonstrated by those running against him. For Goodall, the patterns Trump displayed throughout the primary election bring to mind a chimpanzee named Mike, “who maintained his dominance by kicking a series of kerosene cans ahead of him as he moved down a road, creating confusion and noise that made his rivals flee and cower.”

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Goodall said she expects Trump to mimic Mike’s dominant behavior patterns when he debates rival Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University next week. While the GOP nominee may not kick cans of kerosene, if his previous debate performances are any indication, he will use a combination of deflection and chaos to try to throw Clinton off her game.

The challenge is whether Clinton can remain calm and collected in the face of Trump’s unsettling behavior. Maybe she should consult Jan Goodall for tips on handle such a primate.

Elizabeth Preza is the Managing Editor of AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.