Trump temperamentally unqualified to be president
Many people think of the United States as a Christian nation. A de facto truly Christian nation would have the love of God and of others as its highest priority and distinguishing characteristic. This passage from I Tm 19: “The love of money (not money) is the root of all kinds of evil” captures the thrust of a basic Biblical theme that separates an acquisitive world apart from Christians and other good living people.
Our reality TV saturated culture, however is not driven by these altruistic values, but by an insatiable, pervasive desire for financial success. Greed has displaced love as a primary motivator in many of us. We’re becoming deaf to the words: “You shall not have any gods before me.” A recent sign of our hankering for money above all else has been expressed in the reasons given by a significantly large part of the electorate which supports Donald Trump’s for President.
In focus groups, these people say they admire Donald Trump because he is what they want most to be: Rich and uninhibited. Trump supporters believe that as President, Donald Trump, who has successfully achieved the real purpose of life in America, amassing a fortune for himself, can help individuals and the nation become wealthy too.
Their reasoning must be that, since Donald Trump can make money, dispense with a teleprompter and feel free to say whatever pops into his mind, he Is ready to serve as our President. While Trump is quick to eviscerate others, he does not take kindly to the same kind of beyond-the-pale trashing he dishes out, as when one author unwisely (and very unkindly) described his hairdo as “a sunken apricot souffle’.”
One can only imagine how Trump, who whined on endlessly and disgustingly about a tough question from FOX News’ Megyn Kelly will react to the land-mine questions of the Washington press corps, not to mention the opposition research of the Clinton machine. After all this campaign’s Trump comedy, if he becomes president, what will be left to joke about at the annual Washington Correspondents’ Dinner? Certainly, he is better suited to lead the Republican outreach effort to women and Hispanics. But President?
After his avid supporters become wealthy, they may imagine that they too can say the most oafish, sexist, xenophobic and uncouth of things, and dismiss the objections of others to such boorish remarks as “political correctness.” Unfortunately, they often utterly conflate entertainment and politics, routinely confuse celebrity with authority, equate objections to hateful speech as hyper-sensitivity and regularly lose sight of the difference between a cult of personalty and a claim to leadership.
Trump is the carnival we have invited to town. He is a reflection of his followers and the image he reflects is like one from a carnival mirror. His sound-bites resemble those of a carnival barker. He intensifies our demand for conflict, for crackups, for anything that could be distilled to 90 seconds on television, two swaggering paragraphs on a website or 140 characters in a spirited tweet. Trump supporters have reduced political discourse to the exchange of zingers and they love Trump because he is the king of the one-liner.
Trump’s showmanship has inspired Rand Paul to chainsaw the tax code, Rick Perry to challenge him to a chin-up contest and Lindsay Graham to put a cell phone in a blender and call Trump a “jackass.” Over the past decades, politics and theater have merged and now are indistinguishable and most of us unfailingly show up for the performance.
The response of many in the media and from most of his party to Trump’s outlandish behavior (as of this writing!) has so far been to rationalize his incendiary, disrespectful words and style (not just “inappropriate” as timid Trump soft-ball critics have described them…THAT’S “political correctness”) by saying “he is tapping into the anger of the people.” But anger is not some unqualified virtue and true leaders redirect anger toward the development of reasonable solutions, as when skilled teachers deescalate the temper tantrums of out-of-control preschoolers. Demagogues, like Trump. just stoke it.
At the first debate, in front of a TV audience of 24 million people, some of the Republican presidential aspirants publicly indicated their willingness to be bribed by asking him for contributions from Trump right after he boasted he always donated to politicians with the expectation that they would do favors for him on a strictly quid pro quo basis. (If they find that kind of damning exchange in Hillary’s emails, they should prosecute her.) They refused to take him on by condemning his blatant excesses because he is successfully blackmailing the field by threatening to run as an Independent “to maintain his leverage.”
While huffing and puffing about how they would over-power the mullahs in Iran into abject unconditional surrender or oblivion, all the breast -thumping, neo-con sounding presidential debaters, to a person, were petrified to ruffle the sensibilities of the nuclear-mouthed “King of Queens,” the George Carlin of the right who insults everyone, the Don Rickles of the race whose opponents, like a Rickles’ audience, keep begging Trump: “Insult me, Donald. I need some attention.”
Our fascination with Donald Trump reminds us that we often live our lives in accordance with the principle of “rational self-interest” rather than the principle of altruistic love. Though many Americans proclaim Jesus as their savior, they live their lives according to teachings of Ayn Rand, even if they have never heard of her. And if Donald Trump should become America’s equivalent to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi by becoming our President, I, for one, will have been wrong in believing this oft-repeated crass Trump verity: “You can’t polish a turd.”
I hope that, by the time this article is published, the incorrigible, outrageously burlesque conduct and unfiltered strident words of Donald Trump will cause a complete meltdown of his campaign. But I doubt it will. His very presence cheapens, trivializes and threatens to make a circus of an election process already badly in need of deep reforms. Yes, as a Presidential candidate, Trump is a joke. But, sadly, everybody loves a clown.
Mannello is a retired former healthcare executive and consultant residing in Williamsport.