Donald Trump scares me. I watch his shameless bragging and cringe-worthy self-promotion in fascination, but what amazes me even more is how many people are willing to vote for him in spite of his outrageous statements and ideas, his off-the-chart arrogance and narcissism, and his tendency to shoot off his mouth without thinking of the consequences. None of these are desirable traits in a leader, especially one of the free world.
Granted, he sometimes says things that make sense and that I agree with (some of the best being his bold and accurate criticisms of George W). And yes, his confidence can be admirable, as well as his conviction, his show of strength, and his willingness to say what he thinks. But all of these things are also negatives because he does them to great excess, without any filter or brake pedal. In fact, almost everything is a superlative with him: “everyone” loves him, his programs will be the “best” and the “greatest,” everything else is “fantastic” or “the worst ever” or whatever other extreme fits the situation. He’s a walking thesaurus of overstatement, but most of his grandstanding blather has no substance. It’s vague and empty. Just listen to him talk. Sure, he can be very persuasive. You can see that he believes his own boasts (narcissists usually do), and this extreme confidence is seductive and invites trust, misplaced as it may be. We tend to like confident people. This seems to be the hypnotic secret behind his appeal. People desperate for leadership want someone cocky and self-assured whom they can believe in, no matter what they say or propose (this is how Hitler was able to rise to power, by the way). We’re so tired of phony, scripted politicians that we welcome one who is refreshingly off-the-cuff and who has unbridled (though neurotic) self-confidence. With Trump, it seems to be all about his attitude with no concern for his lack of political experience, his unwillingness to compromise or his frequent lack of decorum. The fact that he has little to back up his statements (i.e. that Mexico will pay for a border wall, that you’ll have the best health care you’ve ever had under his proposal and you’ll be “so happy,” that he’s somehow going to be able to keep every terrorist crackpot out of the country by banning Muslim immigrants, etc.) doesn’t seem to concern many voters. They just like his boldness. Please, separate the boldness from the buffoon. Boldness is good in a competent leader (think Teddy Roosevelt), but dangerous in a buffoon (think Kim Jong-un, another crackpot with wacky hair). Besides, we’ve already had a buffoon Republican president, and look how that turned out. Could we pick someone smart, reasonable and competent for a change? Maybe if we did, we’d see less polarization in the country.
A president needs to be able to compromise. This has been difficult for most modern presidents, but would be especially so for Trump. He admitted as much recently when asked about it, saying that he “likes a compromise where I win.” With him, it’s his way or the highway, and this would not set well with Congress. You think there’s stubbornness and obstructionism now? Congress would come to a screeching halt under a President Trump if his party wasn’t in control, and still might even if Republicans did control Congress since most establishment Republicans don’t like him. This isn’t reality television, and you can’t run the government with sound bites and empty platitudes. He would be a bully not only with Congress but with world leaders as well, which at best would make us isolationist in an increasingly interdependent world, and at worst start a war. Trump is used to getting his way and having everyone obey him. Politics doesn’t work like that. And even if it did, who usually benefits from his gusto and deal making? He does. It’s always about him. His whole campaign is about feeding his ego and promoting his greatness (“did you see the latest poll? Everyone loves me!”). Everything he does is to glorify himself, and he only cares about the consequences of his actions to the degree that they boomerang on him. He has already backed off of some of his more outrageous comments (often by denying that he said something that there is audio and video proof of him saying), so perhaps he is learning. But we don’t have the time for, or luxury of, him learning to behave like an adult. Granted, there is an endless array of immature and extremist candidates seeking the nomination this year, but letting Trump loose in the White House would be, to use his words, a “total disaster.”