Trump the Triumphant
A Sober Assessment
By Glenn Perry
It seems the impossible is unfolding before our eyes. Donald Trump has risen to the top of the polls amongst Republican candidates for the presidency. While this is disturbing to many, we should not be entirely surprised. Winning is nothing new to Trump. He’s been doing it consistently for five decades. His father once commented that “everything he seems to touch turns to gold.” However, a good chart analysis can provide a more nuanced, three dimensional understanding of the two-dimensional caricature typically presented in the daily news. Before examining Donald Trump’s birthchart for insight into the psychological underpinnings of his Midas touch―and the brazen confidence and self-promotion for which he’s famous―let’s review some facts about the Donald.
Trump grew up in Queens, New York, the privileged son of a self-made millionaire. As a child he was naturally combative (he once punched a teacher), and at age 13 was expelled for misbehavior from the prestigious prep school he attended. His parents subsequently sent him to the New York Military Academy in hopes he would develop discipline and channel his innate aggressiveness in a positive direction. It seems to have worked. Trump was elected Captain of both the student regiment and baseball team. He went on to Wharton School of Finance where he graduated first in his class with a B.A. in economics. Donald subsequently decided to build a career on his father’s foundation. Frederick Christ Trump was a successful real estate developer in New York City.
The Donald’s pattern of success has been based on a proven strategy: purchase run down, dilapidated properties on the verge of collapse and then restore them to their former glory. Examples include the old Penn Central, the bankrupt Commodore Hotel, the decrepit Wollman Rink in Central Park, the unfinished Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, and most recently the decaying Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. Once acquired, Trump dispatches an army of architects, designers, and artists to renovate, refurbish, and dramatically improve the property. He then slaps his name on it and declares it the greatest. His guiding principle: “If it’s not the best, it’s not Trump…We represent the gold standard, and so that’s what we deliver. It’s a simple formula―and it works.”1
It is noteworthy that Trump’s run for the presidency is following the same general pattern. In this case, however, the degraded real estate he’s seeking to restore is America itself. Trump is capitalizing on the widespread perception that America is in decline, a once bountiful country now essentially bankrupt with an 18 trillion dollar debt, its elite AAA credit rating downgraded, its military status alarmingly weakened, porous borders overrun with illegal immigrants, industries decimated from bad trade deals, educational ranking plummeting to 17th on a global scale, and an explosion of race related violence in cities like Chicago, Ferguson, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and New York.
Trump declares: “Let’s face it, America is in deep trouble. Our economy is a disaster. Thanks to Obama, the American dream is dead. But I can bring it back―bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”2 Classic Trump. His entire campaign is built on the promise: “I can make America great again.” But can he?
Donald Trump’s Birthchart
The first thing that jumps out in Trump’s chart is the strong Gemini-Sagittarius dialectic. With Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini in the 10th, Trump is a fast talking, maverick businessman who made a career out of his ability to reform existing structures, as in renovating and remodeling old buildings. Sun-Uranus especially correlates with Trump’s outsider status as a political candidate, the rabble-rousing revolutionary leading a movement to overthrow politics-as-usual. This same configuration also enables him to see the global picture―the political and economic milieu―in ways that allow him to orchestrate complex projects and, if necessary, align himself with the forces of change.
Donald Trump Birthchart: June 14, 1946, 10:54am, Jamaica, NY
Like a blazing fast computer, Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini digests and creates massive amounts of information. In Trump’s first of ten books, The Art of the Deal, he describes how he wakes up at 6am, reads the entire morning paper, arrives at work by 9am, makes 50 to 100 phone calls and holds a dozen or so 15-minute impromptu meetings throughout the day with city planners, mayors, bank managers, lawyers, architects, construction bosses, and so on. “Watch, listen, learn,” he writes. “You can’t know it all yourself…No matter how smart you are, no matter how comprehensive your education, no matter how wide ranging your experience, there is simply no way to acquire all the wisdom you need to make your business thrive.”3 Former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani notes that despite Trump’s penchant for outrageous statements, he learns very quickly. “The reality is he’s gotten better as a candidate,” says Giuliani. “This man learns like that. It’s unbelievable.”4
With Moon Sagittarius opposing his Sun-Uranus conjunction, Trump has a talent for understanding current trends, such as which way the market is moving in real estate. The Moon, of course, rules real estate, and Sagittarius is about connecting the dots and drawing a conclusion. Sagittarius anticipates the future while conferring an expansive sense of possibility. As Trump put it, “I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”5 As the Moon symbolizes our capacity to care as well as our need for belonging (patriotism being one variant), it might be more accurate to say that Trump’s patriotic feelings run large, spilling over into a Sagittarian megaphone and proclaimed in a hyperbolic statement of opinion. It follows that Moon Sagittarius correlates to Trump’s penchant for exaggeration. In his announcement for the presidency, he trumpeted: “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created!” That, of course, remains to be seen, though no one can doubt Trump’s patriotic fervor and ardent faith in his ability to move the country forward.
The opposition is a Libra aspect that requires the respective planets find a point of balance and cooperation, as in negotiating a deal. Ever since Trump wrote The Art of the Deal it could be argued that he is the world’s most famous negotiator. Not surprisingly, his strategy reflects the nature of the planets and signs that comprise his opposition―Sun-Uranus in Gemini opposed Moon Sagittarius. First, says Trump, establish rapport with the other side by building friendship and trust. Let them know you care, listen closely, and strive to understand what they want. In part, this reflects the Moon (caring, listening, understanding), but also the Sun (friendship, good will, liking the other person). In addition, he says, do your homework by uncovering relevant information; become the expert on the topic you’re negotiating. Clearly, this reflects the Gemini dimension of acquiring data. Next, convince the other side that they’re getting more than they expected; that is, sell them―an obvious Sagittarian tactic.
Trump also emphasizes the importance of remaining flexible and considering multiple solutions to every impasse. Adaptability is inherent in the nature of mutable signs Gemini and Sagittarius, whereas thinking outside the box is Uranian. The very title of his book emphasizes that negotiation is an art, which again reflects the opposition as a Libra angle. Art is inherent in the striving for harmony; that is, play fair, compromise when necessary, and place the other’s needs on a par with one’s own. Finally, the Sun correlates to strong, clear intentions―make the deal, get things done; yet, its conjunction with Uranus symbolizes his capacity to detach and walk away if the numbers don’t comport with his formula for success: buy low, sell high―in short, win.
Mars in Leo Conjunct the Ascendant
An especially important component of Trump’s birthchart is his Ascendant in Leo. In the chart shown here, it’s at 29 degrees Leo, but an alternative time of 9:51am places his Ascendant at 17 Leo. Either way, the Ascendant constitutes an instinctive way of being, that which we do spontaneously and automatically in the service of asserting our right to be. It correlates to the native’s first step forward and thus the first impression others have of who the person is―in other words, his or her appearance and, superficially speaking, personality (at least its outer surface). By definition, the terms person and personality differentiate self from others. Both derive from the Latin term persona, or mask, meaning a character one plays that does not encompass the true (whole) self.
The Ascendant or “rising” sign is like that: a character one plays, the wrapping on the package, an instinctive way of being that hopefully gets the person moving forward. I say “hopefully” because some signs comport with the Ascendant more readily than others. As Aries is associated with the 1st house, any sign that trines Aries is a good fit for the Ascendant. Other than Aries, probably no sign works better on the Ascendant than Leo. Naturally warm and outgoing, the individual is apt to instinctively garner attention and court approval. As a social sign, Leo does this by making others feel special, which, in turn, inspires them to like you―the Leo rising person. It is a win-win strategy. Naturally affable and magnanimous, I marvel at how quick Trump is to heap praise on people he’s seeking to win over. The voters in Iowa, for example, are described as “wonderful” and “very smart” and “fantastic people” all because, apparently, they’ve moved Trump to the top of the polls in the upcoming caucus.
Leo is the popular sign. Its very nature is designed to arouse support and admiration. In politics this is known as “populism” because it constitutes an appeal to the common hopes and fears of the general population against the privileged, political elite or ruling class. Often it does this by inflammatory rhetoric and unrealistic promises in order to maximize appeal across the political spectrum. Again, this is precisely where Trump excels, not because it is a calculated strategy, but because Leo rising is naturally oriented this way.
Of course, the Ascendant and Ascendant sign are two different things. The former will influence the way the latter is expressed. This is due to the Ascendant being an instinctive point of assertion; thus, like Mars, it has a quality of assertion built into it. The rising sign, therefore, receives this thrust and tends to manifest more ardently that it would, for instance, if it were the Moon sign. It also describes how one asserts as well as what is being asserted. With Leo on the Ascendant, the native will be instinctively confident, flamboyant, and proud. Moreover, they will assert their specialness at every opportunity, declaring their latest triumph, calling attention to their worth, and so on. All of this is done automatically and seemingly unconsciously―that is, without guile or forethought.
This is why Trump is often described as “authentic” and “a straight shooter”. Unlike typical politicians who calculate their strategy of the basis of poll surveys and campaign advisers, Trump simply lets it fly. Asked if he’s preparing for the upcoming debates by hiring coaches and experts, Trump responds: “Not really, I’m just going to be myself. I am who I am.”
While Leo is itself a strong Ascendant, Mars in Leo conjunct the Ascendant is like Leo rising on steroids. This is because specific planets, signs, houses, and aspects share an archetypal kinship. Marking the cusp of the 1st house, the Ascendant corresponds to the 1st sign, Aries, its ruler, Mars, and the angle of the conjunction, or 0 degrees. All four variables share a similarity of meaning, albeit in different forms. With Mars conjunct the Ascendant there is a compounding of this archetypal energy since Mars, the conjunction, and the Ascendant are all variants on the same theme. And when placed together, there is an intensification of that theme, a doubling (or tripling) down. Because it is so strong and unusual, when I see this type of repeating theme in a birthchart it takes my breath away.
The intensification of Aries energy by virtue of Mars being conjunct the Ascendant will burst forth in a Leonian manner like a dramatic fireworks display, since colorful Leo is the sign through which the super bold, instinctive nature of Mars conjunct the Ascendant is expressed. With Aries-ruled Mars in a sign to which it naturally trines―Leo―the Donald is like confidence shot out of a cannon, an unstoppable force of nature, a wrecking ball with a smirk. He is the happy warrior, the glitzy gladiator, a charismatic presence so over-the-top in his self-aggrandizement that he comes off as a flaming narcissist. And yet, you can’t take your eyes off him any more than you can ignore an unscripted flasher prancing nude across the stage at the Academy Awards.
Speaking of upstaging, Donald epitomizes it. An often repeated metaphor in reference to Trump is that he sucks all the oxygen out of the room. So much media attention is focused on him that it is difficult for other candidates to gain traction. Deprived of airtime, their campaigns are suffocating, gasping for whatever oxygen can be siphoned away from the Trump express.
Mars is the archetype of the warrior. If sufficiently provoked, it can express as anger, or outrage, a readiness to fight against anything that threatens one’s right to be. Focused on the here and now, its notorious “Just do it!” attitude doesn’t suffer fools gladly nor tolerate indecisiveness, weakness, or delay. With Mars in Leo, Trump is tapping into our collective outrage with inept leaders and the do-nothing miasma of politics as usual. In effect, he’s validating that outrage; he’s the wild-eyed cheerleader shouting, “You should be angry!” while simultaneously presenting himself as an action hero who can lead the country out the doldrums and back to the promise of the American dream―a revitalized economy, strong national defense, and get-tough attitude on crime. In a recent speech in Vegas, his blood-flushed face blown up on a background screen, Trump’s performance was so frenzied and incoherent that Reason’s Matt Welch quipped, “This isn’t a speech, it’s a seizure.”
Mars Leo on the Ascendant is like the Howard Beale character in the film Network who, during an inspired breakdown on his own news broadcast, rants about the depression, inflation, gang violence, escalating murder rate, and finally ends up exhorting his viewers to stick their heads out of their windows and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ In effect, this is Trump. He’s the politically incorrect madman stoking the fires of civil discontent; the perfect lightening rod for public outrage because he himself is outrageous―raw, fierce, brash, defiant, unapologetic, leveling everyone in his path with a shotgun blast of righteous indignation. Pollster Patrick Murray says that Trump’s attack list of complaints is “resonating with angry voters who are just really frustrated and feel that there’s nobody there who’s voicing that frustration on behalf of them.”6
Hot Air, Scorched Earth
As if Mars conjunct a Leo Ascendant were not enough, Mars also sextiles his Sun and trines his Moon. The lights are beneficiaries of Jupiter as well, which sextiles his Moon and trines his Sun. This is an embarrassment of riches, an extraordinary infusion of positive energy to the Sun-Moon opposition from the two fire planets, Mars and Jupiter. It certainly explains the seemingly limitless faith Trump has in his own abilities, the Midas touch, the larger-than-life persona and extravagant lifestyle.
But it’s not all roses and lollipops. Trump is unbalanced. He has seven planets in yang signs (air and fire), only three in water, and no planets at all in earth. This combination of elements is associated with hot air, the fast talking shyster who can sell ice to Eskimos. Upbeat, engaging, and extroverted, fire-air tends to be impatient with feelings, negativity, or limitation of any sort. Trump boasts that he will get the job done, for he’s a doer. Conversely, “politicians are just talkers,” he sneers. This is interesting in light of Trump’s own tendencies as reflected in his elemental imbalance. Anyone with a nose can smell the projection. Fuel injected by Mars-Jupiter, his Gemini-Sagittarius dialectic jumps into hyperdrive at the slightest provocation: racing thoughts, inflated rhetoric, rapid talking that is difficult to interrupt, and flight of ideas in a nearly continuous flow of bellicose speech. That pretty much sums up Trump’s announcement of his candidacy in a lengthy, impassioned, stream-of-consciousness discourse that had more twists and turns than a corkscrew. It’s also characteristic of Trump’s way of responding to questions during interviews.
Donald may be as full of himself as a bloviating contestant at a hotdog-eating contest, but it seems he does get the job done. At least he says he does. Trump asserts that he’s a Washington outsider who cannot be influenced by lobbyists or special interest groups because he’s funding his campaign mostly with his own money. The Donald never misses an opportunity to remind voters that he’s rich. How rich? “Very rich,” he says, endlessly. “I mean my net worth is many, many times Mitt Romney,” as he put it some time back. “Much, much richer.”7 He boasts that his assets total 9 billion, 240 million dollars with liabilities of only $500 million, which is mostly long-term debt with very low interest rates. But Allan Sloan, a Washington Post columnist and seven-time winner of the Loeb Award (business journalism’s highest honor), claims that Trump’s figures are more inflated than a hot air balloon.
Sloan lists six key reasons why Trump’s claims are not even remotely credible. As he put it: “Trump’s balance sheet is certainly over-inflated and doesn’t seem to be tethered to financial reality.”8 After a thorough and critical analysis of Trump’s assets, Sloan concludes: “There is no way on earth to tell what Trump is actually worth, because the numbers [he provides] aren’t supported by anything. If he had presented this balance sheet to me in a personal finance class, I’d have given him a short message: “You’re fired.”
All of this smacks of overcompensation for no earth. If fire-air is like an untethered hot air balloon, no-earth dispenses with gravity altogether while, at the same time, being obsessed with earth-like things and activities, as if seeking an external ground that is not felt internally. This is probably nowhere better illustrated than in his series of Trump Towers, ten or more skyscrapers all over the world that stretch the limits in an effort to get the most height from the least foundation. They are earthy, solid things to be sure―testaments to Trump’s success―yet, their relationship to the ground is ambivalent at best. It’s telling when Sloan says, “…the numbers aren’t supported by anything.” In other words, there’s no concrete substance or reality to what Trump claims is true. For a man who aspires to be president, this is concerning, especially in light of our federal juggernaut that is currently cranking out two billion dollars of debt per/day.
It is well known that Trump has had his own problems with debt, having been through a series of high-profile bankruptcies in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009. Each bankruptcy required compliance with a court-approved reorganization plan that even put Trump on a monthly budget for a while. Of course, Trump puts his own spin on this, bragging that he’s used federal laws to pare debt and make “a fantastic deal.” Trump deals exclusively in superlatives―the biggest, the best, the most fantastic―which reflects his Mars Leo Rising and fire-air nature, but also renders questionable the majority of his claims. Trump crows that his Art of the Deal is the best-selling business book of all time; his Macy’s line of clothing is the classiest; his Trump-branded casinos and hotels are the most luxurious; his Trump-branded golf courses are the greatest in the world; The Apprentice is the top-rated reality-television show, and on and on. But as Kevin Williamson of National Review put it, “None of that is ever true, of course.”9
In the public lexicon, the name “Trump” is almost synonymous with excess, overdoing, and going too far. This itself should give one pause. When the machinery of government is struggling to right itself and not spend more tax revenue than it takes in―an almost impossible task in today’s era of entitlement―is it realistic to believe that Trump is the man to turn this around? To be frugal in the budgets he submits to Congress? To reign in our 18 trillion dollar national debt? Putting Trump in charge of the federal budget may be like giving an amphetamine-addled adolescent responsibility for managing the family trust fund.
Summary and Conclusion
By any standard, Trump has led a remarkable life. That he should be 10 points ahead of his nearest Republican rival is even more astonishing. So far as I know, it is unprecedented that a non-politician could be leading the polls by such a wide margin in a presidential primary. Clearly, Trump’s style if not his message is resonating with an angry populace. His Sun-Moon opposition in Gemini-Sagittarius is consistent with his mercurial, expansive personality, quick mind, and capacity to persuade. Add Mars to a Leo Ascendant and the resultant combination is a combustible mix of brazen confidence, mental toughness, and moral outrage. Given the low approval rating of both Congress and Obama, a significant percentage of the country would like to fire the lot of them. And who better to do the firing than the Donald whose signature line is, “You’re fired!”
Yet, the same parts of Trump’s chart that make him extraordinary as a businessman/entertainer make him vulnerable as a politician. His preponderance of air-fire signs and the Mars-Jupiter infusion into his Sun-Mon opposition contribute to the widespread impression that Trump is over-the-top, more of a spectacle than someone to be taken seriously as a presidential contender. If he were a building, most assuredly he would be a skyscraper, but is there an adequate foundation to sustain the structural integrity of that skyscraper during a hurricane? A sitting president will face several during his tenure. And why does a very rich man need to remind us constantly of how “very rich” he is? In his self-comparison to Mitt Romney, we catch a glimpse of a deep insecurity and tendency toward envy. These are not good signs for a prospective president, for they suggest that his brash self-confidence is compensatory for an unconscious fear that may lead to self-undoing, which America can ill-afford.
Trump’s presidential run reminds me of Aesop’s fable The Turtle and the Hare. As the story goes, the Hare ridicules the slow-moving Tortoise. Tired of the Hare’s incessant boasting, the Tortoise challenges the Hare to a race. Being an extremely fast runner, the Hare quickly leaves the Tortoise in his wake and, confident of winning, decides to take a nap halfway through the race. When the Hare awakens, however, he is startled to discover that the Tortoise, crawling slowly but steadily, has already crossed the finish line. The moral of the story is self-evident. Foolish over-confidence can lead to poor decisions that, in turn, result in defeat. Will Trump’s compensatory over-confidence inevitably result in a poor decision that collapses his candidacy like a crumbling tower and causes him to lose the race? Many pundits are expecting just that.
In other ways, Trump also reminds me of George Armstrong Custer, the red-haired, flamboyant, narcissistic general of the 7th Calvary who, in pursuit of personal glory, led his troops to massacre at Little Bighorn in 1876 by grossly underestimating the magnitude of the challenge he was facing. At the time of this writing, Trump is way out in front, as befits someone with Mars Leo on the Ascendant. If nothing else, Trump is a front runner, a sprinter by nature. And though he’s injected incalculable excitement into the Republican primaries, it remains to be seen how he will fare in the long run. One suspects his supporters may soon discover they’ve invited the bull into the proverbial china shop, a creature of instinct entirely unsuited to the intricate civilities of Washington politics. It has often been said that politics is a blood sport. If so, then perhaps it best requires the grace and courage of a bull fighter, not a bull.
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1 Newsmax, “Trump Does It Again,” July, 2015, p. 75-76
2 Newsmax.com email, special sponsored Message to Newsmax Readers, 8/1/2015
4 Richter, Greg, “Rudy Giuliani: Trump Good for GOP,” Newsmax.com, July 28, 2015, http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/rudy-giuliani-donald-trump-good-republican/2015/07/28/id/659364/#ixzz3hNT67MmT
6 Beamon, Todd. “Pollster on Trump: ‘Shotgun Approach’ Having Real Impact,” Newsmax.com, July 30, 2015, http://www.newsmax.com/Newsmax-Tv/Patrick-Murray-Donald-Trump-shotgun-pollster/2015/07/30/id/659728/#ixzz3hgqim9gX
7 Williamson, Kevin. “The Art of the Grotesque,” in National Review, August 10, 2015, p. 34.
8 Sloan, Allan. The Washington Post News, June 16, 2015. “6 reasons you can’t believe anything Donald Trump says about his $9 billion net worth,” at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/16/6-reasons-you-cant-believe-anything-donald-trump-says-about-his-9-billion-net-worth/
9 Williamson, Ibid., p. 35