In the end, strongmen require loyal subjects who will follow them no matter what their flaws; both Trump and Erdoğan possess that kind of pull, but there’s always a breaking point.
Parallels abound in the media between Donald J. Trump and a host of “strongmen” who find their way into powerful places, but move over Hitler, Mussolini and Putin, the new—and perhaps most salient—astrological parallel for a would-be Trump presidency is with Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
I haven’t pulled this rabbit out of a hat: titled “Trump and the Sultan,” today’s article by New York Times columnist, economist Thomas L. Friedman, makes the case that “in terms of personality and political strategy, Erdoğan and Donald Trump were separated at birth.” Such statements always raise interesting astrological questions, whether they should be taken at face value or not. Friedman points to the aftermath of this week’s failed coup in Turkey as the template for strongman governance:
“And the drama playing out in Turkey today is the story of just how off track a once successful country can get when a leader who demonizes all his rivals and dabbles in crazy conspiracy theories comes to believe that he alone is The Man—the only one who can make his country great again—and ensconces himself in power.”
Friedman goes on to catalog the gradual way Erdoğan has dismantled important aspects of the Turkish democracy in his years in power, turning his term-limited elected office into a life-long position, harassing and disabling the press and any real or imagined rivals, using his power to foment hatred against the Kurdish minority, reinstating religious-based laws in this secular society, and so on.
From what we’ve seen of Trump’s campaign, the potential parallels are many: Trump is clearly willing to pit groups of people against each other for his agenda; we know he hates the “dishonest media,” preferring to be his own P.R. man on Twitter; and we know he’s got a thing about squashing those he deems enemies like bugs.
Even if you like Trump’s “America first” ideas overall, the rest of the package is tough. Erdoğan started out in Turkey as a popular leader who helped their economy and so on—unfortunately, things went sour and Turkey’s much-celebrated democracy is in peril.
In the meantime, while Trump and his family enjoy the primetime glow of Cleveland’s Republican Convention this week, Trump’s loyal subjects are issuing dark threats on “enemy” Hillary Clinton. From NBC.comnews of July 20th:
“In the past days, certain political figures have insisted that Clinton committed treason and they even go so far as to say she should be executed… Baldasaro, a Trump delegate from the Granite State who has appeared on the campaign trail with the candidate, made waves on the Jeff Kuhner Show when he said that Clinton is ‘a piece of garbage’ who should be ‘shot for treason.’”
When questioned by NBC News, Baldasaro—“New Hampshire state representative and Trump veterans issues adviser”—stood by this statement, and according to NBC, a West Virginia delegate and United Airlines pilot Michael Folk took the threat even further, tweeting on July 16th (a tweet that was subsequently deleted by Twitter) that:
“[Clinton] should be tried for treason, murder, and crimes against the US Constitution…then hung on the Mall in Washington, D.C.”
The parallels to strongman Erdoğan, who threatens to reinstate Turkey’s death penalty for those he suspects in the coup attempt against his government, are pretty chilling. The hallmark of a strongman ruler is the individual’s deeply held belief that his personal interests are at one with the interests of the nation he rules. As we’ll see, both Erdoğan and Trump fit this mold, astrologically, and both are now facing a convenient “coup” that helps them consolidate their power.
First, Erdoğan: to the cheers of Turkish protestors who were “encouraged” to show up for the display, Erdoğan has been aggressively rounding up a host of potential enemies who may or may not have had anything to do with the July 15th coup attempt.
Second, Trump: thanks to New Jersey’s Chris Christie’s “kangaroo court” call-and-response rant with the whipped up audience (“Lock her up!”), the Trump camp has spun an eerily similar narrative, claiming the right to prosecute and dispose of his chief “enemy” Hillary Clinton. Based on the quotes above from Trump loyalists, the narrative has already spun off in violent directions.
Bottom line, positioning themselves as the strongman over their opponents is the modus operandi of both Erdoğan and Trump. Trump, of course, experienced a staged “coup” attempt by former primary rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last night at the Convention, but as commentator Bob Schieffer pointed out this morning on CBS News, Trump likely knew what Cruz was planning.
If Schieffer is right, allowing a former rival to issue a non-endorsement on the main stage amounted to a Trump-sanctioned coup attempt. This could be interpreted as a display of political grace on Trump’s part, except we know the resulting “Boo’s” in the audience will have legs. Already there’s a backlash: Trump tweet-boasted that Cruz was "booed off the stage;" one Texas delegate says Cruz needs to “put his big boy pants on,” and Rep. King is accusing Cruz of being “narcissistic.” Much more to come, undoubtedly—Cruz will get his Trump comeuppance.
It’s not too outrageous a stretch to wonder whether Erdoğan’s coup was a similar, if far more dramatic, ploy to “clean house,” as well. Here’s the latest:
“The 2016 Turkish purges are ongoing political purges of the judicial, police, educational and other sectors of the Turkish civil service following the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt during the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Starting on 16 July 2016, 2,745 judges were dismissed and detained. By 20 July 2016, about 50,000 officials had been dismissed, detained or suspended. This took place in the context of a temporary suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights and indications that the death penalty, abolished in 2004, might be reintroduced.”
Let’s consider the biwheels for the parallel coup attempts.
Biwheel 1: (inner wheel) Natal, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, February 26, 1954, 4:25 a.m. ST, Istanbul, Turkey. Source: Astrodatabank, rated “C” (source unknown).
Interchart Grand-Square: Coup Saturn (Rx, Sagittarius) conjunct Natal Mars-Moon (Sagittarius) opposes Natal Jupiter (Gemini); all this is squared by Natal Sun-Mercury-Venus/Coup Neptune (Pisces) opposite Coup Jupiter-Node (Virgo). Despite some overly-wide orbs, Coup Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune hold this chaotically tense configuration together, drawing Erdoğan’s personal points (Sun-Moon-Mercury-Mars-Venus) into the broader social/military (Virgo) situation and reflecting on his personal, emotional investment in maintaining authority (Saturn-Jupiter). The emphasis on mutable signs here echoes Trump’s strident Gemini-Sagittarius energies (which are caught up in the same grand square dynamics).
Out of control mutable energies (two interacting Saturn-Neptune-Jupiter t-squares) tend to seek out “law and order,” and the overall Grand Square created the pressure cooker energy needed for a dramatic, violent unfolding of events (Saturn-Mars). The coup may not have failed if Saturn were transiting direct, so it’s not surprising that Erdoğan rushed to round up potential enemies and impose emergency/martial law (today) before that happens in August.
Wide Interchart T-Square: Coup Uranus (Aries) opposes Natal Neptune (Libra) and this axis squares Coup Pluto-Natal ASC-Node (Capricorn). With Pluto transiting his 12th house of “hidden enemies,” applying to his Ascendant, it’s no wonder Erdoğan feels vulnerable; if the threat of violent victimization (Uranus in Aries opposite his elevated Neptune) didn’t manifest, he could well have magnetized such a situation to himself with outsized fear and perhaps, paranoia (a Plutonian delusion common to many strongman types). With volatile Uranus in his 4th house of inner security, squaring his Node at the Ascendant, he may have to round up the entire country to feel safe. Even that may not be enough. Will we have another Syria? A story for another day.
The attempted "coup" in Cleveland
Biwheel 2: (inner wheel) Natal, Donald J. Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 a.m., DST, Jamaica, New York. Rated: AA (bc in hand); (outer wheel) Radix, Ted Cruz Speech at RNC, July 20, 2016, 9:00 p.m. (approximate) DST, Cleveland, Ohio.
Speech Sun conjoins Trump Saturn-Venus (all Cancer), semi-sextiles Trump Mars-ASC (Leo), squares Speech Uranus (Aries) and inconjoins Trump Part of Fortune (Aquarius); Fire Grand Trine: Speech Uranus trines Trump Moon (Sagittarius) and Trump Mars-ASC (Leo). We can take the Speech Sun to represent Ted Cruz here, so suffice to say, his presence got under Trump’s skin (hitting Trump’s Venus-Saturn semi-sextile volatile Mars-ASC).
If Trump did think Cruz was going to endorse him, this speech was a shock (Uranus) that angered him (Mars-ASC) and ignited his fiery Sagittarian emotional nature (Moon). Perhaps the most upsetting feature of Cruz’s speech to Trump was this element of surprise—Trump prides himself on being unpredictable (Aquarius Part of Fortune), and here the tables were turned on him.
For his part, Trump did upstage Cruz by showing up with family members at the offending moment in the speech—eerily similar to the way he somehow managed to fly over Cruz’s outdoor rally at a crucial moment earlier in the day. Saturn in Cancer holds grudges, so the story will live on.
Interchart Grand-Square: Speech Mars (Scorpio) opposes Trump MC (Taurus); this axis squares Trump Mars (Leo) opposite Trump Part of Fortune (Aquarius). This powerful fixed grand square spells trouble—Bil Tierney’s interpretation is very helpful here:
“The Fixed Grand Square tends to work its powerful energies out on the will and desire level, creating inner frustrations often leading to emotional crises…Here the tendency is to compress feelings and fortify the will to such an extent that pressures internalize upon the deeper levels of the psyche.” (Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, 1980, pp. 87-88)
Granted, this interpretation applies to a natal chart, but even in an interchart grand-square, the importance of emotions and the force of will remain. Here, Trump’s ambitions (MC), his incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time (for his agenda—Part of Fortune), not to mention the carefully managed, “in control” image he projects to the world (Mars-ASC), all feel threatened. Under a frustrating configuration like this, it’s never surprising when the native lashes out—it’s either that or repress an internal volcano.
Wide Interchart Grand-Square: Speech Node-Jupiter (Virgo) opposes Speech Neptune (Pisces); this axis square Speech Saturn opposed to Trump Uranus (Gemini). Even though both oppositions have generous orbs, this configuration is knitted together nicely by the sheer weight Gemini Uranus holds in Trump’s natal chart (as a powerful, unpredictable part of his 10th house Gemini Sun-Node-Orcus-Uranus stellium, opposed to his strident Sagittarius Moon and disposed by his Sun’s ruling planet, Mercury). Jupiter is transiting Trump’s 1st house, so the candidate is feeling his oats in this convention, but he’s also feeling the nebulous threat posed by Neptune transiting his 7th house of “open enemies.” Will he “round them up,” figuratively, with ever-more-volatile rhetoric?
Speech Venus-Mercury (Leo) trines Speech Saturn (Sagittarius); Speech Pluto (Capricorn) opposes Trump Saturn/Venus (midpoint, Cancer), squares Trump Chiron-Jupiter (Libra) and inconjoins Trump Uranus (Gemini). Pluto’s dreadful baggage is hitting Trump’s chart where he lives and maintains influence—his sociable, “Old Boy’s Country Club” 5th-11th axis. With Pluto’s square to his natal Jupiter (ruling his 5th) and Chiron, it’s possible Cruz’s speech could negatively impact Trump’s powerful relations—perhaps inspiring an exodus from some quarters—this will be an interesting possibility to follow. Who would he turn to for support if some of the more “reputable” figures head for the door? This could open the way for alliances with more extreme voices than we’ve been seeing (if that’s possible).
So, in answer to the title question of this post, are Trump and Erdoğan cosmic cousins of sorts? Despite obvious differences in their charts, both charts reflect aggressive, ambitious spirits with strong angular placements. Having more mutable placements, Erdoğan is perhaps less sure of himself than Trump, but both men are convinced the world is full of enemies to be overcome. This fact has made Erdoğan’s fear of losing ground a real centerpiece of his political career and has confused his personal ambitions with public interests. This is not unusual with the strong Pisces points in his chart—boundaries between “Me in here” and “Them out there” are permeable. Interestingly, both men have Uranus either in the 7th (Erdoğan) or ruling the 7th (Trump).
For his part, Trump identifies an enemy with laser precision (Uranus) and launches his full-Moon, over-the-top style attack; we’ve seen this repeatedly throughout the campaign. One well-chosen, demeaning nickname repeated often enough becomes the narrative—true playground-bully tactics. He isn’t going to let up on Hillary Clinton until he’s forced to; the danger, as pointed out earlier, is in the mob mentality his relentless screed is producing.
By framing his personal attack on her as a prosecution of her so-called crimes against the country, he, like Erdoğan, is conflating personal and collective security interests and acting out the negative side of his Venus-Saturn in Cancer—again, this mixture is one hallmark of a classical strongman character. Not surprisingly, Trump has his deep insecurities as well (a mutable full Moon and Venus-Saturn conjunction need constant reassurance)—just how many public character assassinations (or worse) will it take to fill his need?
In the end, strongmen require loyal subjects who will follow them no matter what their flaws; both Trump and Erdoğan possess that kind of pull, but there’s always a breaking point. The Cosmos has a way of catching up with would-be strongmen leaders; unfortunately, the collective is ever-fascinated with the bravado (and the dark sides) of these characters, and like the proverbial “frog boil,” before we know what we’ve gotten ourselves into, we’re cooked.
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: email@example.com.
© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved.