Donald Trump And The Character Paradox

When the American people first surveyed the field of candidates running for President in 2016, a surprisingly large number of them gravitated to Donald Trump.  Why?  Well, we know for SURE they weren't looking for a candidate with prior government experience.  And I can honestly say I'm pretty sure they weren't looking for some super intellectual genius.  So what was it about Donald Trump that made him so attractive to so many prospective voters?

My suspicion is that a LOT of people were thoroughly impressed with the fact that he was such a successful businessman.  I believe millions of people concluded that if Donald Trump could be such a conspicuous success in the world of commercial real estate, then it was logical to assume that he could be equally successful as President of the United States.

Personally, I'm not entirely convinced that success in business is a harbinger of success in government.  But I think what people saw as the main reason for Trump's success in business would also stand him in good stead in the White House.  And that reason for success was Trump's sheer ruthlessness.  What a lot of people saw in Trump was the willingness to do just about anything to get what he wanted.  Ironically enough, when President Trump has acted at his most ruthless, he's alienated more people than he's attracted.  Think about it for a minute.

Take the fiasco being played out on our southern border.  I don't think there has been anything President Trump has done that has been more single-mindedly ruthless than tearing apart families in order to discourage people from crossing our border to the south.  It seems pointedly cruel, almost to the point of being inhuman.  Has this policy been a rip-roaring success? Well, up to the moment I'd have to say no.  But then nobody has been monitoring the trend lines for this northward migration.  Frankly, we just don't know.  But can anyone doubt the effectiveness of the  message that the Trump Administration has sent out to the world at large?  When it comes to protecting our southern border, this Administration means business.  It may also be mean and cruel but by and large that's beside the point.

One can also critically examine the forceful tactics Donald Trump used to win the Presidency in the first place.  And yes, by this I DO mean colluding with the Russians.  What can be more ruthless than conspiring with a foreign government to achieve ultimate political power?  And more to the point, conspiring with a HOSTILE foreign power at that!  It shows a single-minded disregard for any of the niceties of American political life.  But it worked!  It may have been underhanded and downright dishonest, but President Trump has achieved a lot with the power bestowed on him.  A big tax break for himself and his wealthy friends, the elimination of so many pesky government rules and regulations that have handcuffed American business, the conservatizing of the federal judiciary including two Supreme Court appointments, and a whole lot of very lucrative personal self-aggrandizement.

These acts of sheer ruthlessness have not exactly made Donald Trump the most popular Chief Executive in American political  history.  But would Donald Trump have become President, or even the Presidential nominee of the Republican Party, if he had been any less ruthless?  I don't think so.

No, President Trump did NOT play by the rules.  He didn't act like your typical politician, measuring each word he said very carefully to be sure he didn't offend this group or that.  He didn't pretend to be a nice guy nor did he try to convince the American people he was the kind of guy you could have a beer with at your local tavern.  He BRAGGED about being rich.  He didn't care WHO he offended.  He said things no politician in his or her right mind would even contemplate saying.  And yet he won the Presidency.  He might not fulfill the fantasy role we ascribe to most of  our Presidents, but if he had done so,  he would have had to make an abject concession speech on Election Day.  Although I  suspect he would have said the results were rigged and that he was robbed.

At any rate,  Donald Trump won the Presidency because he broke all the rules of politics.  He said hateful things, he offended people from every walk of life, he never tried to appear to be a "nice guy" in the tradition of Presidents like Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama, and yet he won.  It either says something quite profound about the man or it says something VERY shameful about us, the American people!

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