Tuesday, March 1, 2016

If Trump Trumps Them All . . .

Whatever your political affiliation, if you have any interest in politics at all, you must be having as much fun as I am watching this year's election process unfold. From the British Parliament taking time to debate the issue of banning Donald Trump from the country for using offensive language so that no one in Britain will be exposed to offensive language, to Bernie's Einstein hairdo and his supporters' blindness to the real meaning of "socialist" (no it isn't another word for "humanist", "philanthropist" or "social worker"), to Hillary's being investigated by the FBI even as we all revisit her husband's White House Philanderer years (horrors!), to having to admit to oneself that the best thing going on reality TV is the GOP debates (sorry, Bachelor) . . . this is the most entertaining, craziest election in my lifetime of over half a century of presidential elections.

I have been registered as an Independent for quite a while, minus a few years' stint as a Libertarian. The far Left scares me and the far Right makes me roll my eyes. Neither appeals to my common sense or my morality, so I'm a renegade. Like most people, I voted ultra-liberal in my college years, came to my senses by my thirties, and tend to be more conservative as I age. Much of the conservative platform I can't support, and the liberal is just too nonsensical. But in the end, I do try to vote in such a way that it will matter. So this year, I'm watching all candidates closely and I can't wait for the dust to settle in early November.

As the person amongst my friends and family who is arguably the best-informed and up-to-date on current issues, I get about five texts a day asking who I like in this election and why.  Today I got a barrage of questions about the latest Trumpisode. Which isn't unusual: the man does know how to keep the presses rolling.  After listening to myself repeat the same things all day, I thought I'd put them down here for you all, in case a few of you are interested. You might be surprised at what I have to say about The Donald.

The biggest question I am getting is: If Trump gets the nomination, aren't you scared?

My answer: Not a bit. Oh, I can't stand the sight of him. Like many, I cringe when he puts his foot in his mouth. But . . .

I am not personally supporting his nomination, just for the record. There are two others I like better. A lot better. And let me just say that this year - as entertaining as it may be - is crucial. We must get it right, because I agree with so many on both sides that the last seven years got it terribly wrong. It is no laughing matter, really. But at the same time, I'm only one person: I have a healthy sense of what I can affect and what I can't.

But let's talk about the elephant in the room: Trump.  What do I think about him, as his campaign screams along like a freight train toward the nomination?

Unlike many people, I was a bit addicted to his reality show, The Apprentice, when he was on it. For probably four seasons, I watched religiously.  I found it really fascinating to watch the minds of highly-driven people, entrepreneurs by their wiring, battling it out. I learned something about business, but I learned even more about the qualities some successful people have: never quit; if Plan A fails, switch to B seamlessly; be a great team player, and get rid of those that hurt the team.

Here is what surprised me most about the show:  Trump is a terribly impressive man. I had expected
to dislike him. After all, I don't like his history with women; I don't like the bombastic personality, or arrogance. I don't, in general, like people too full of themselves.  But during the course of watching the show, I came to see something unexpected: it's all an act.  Through four seasons, he surprised me, time and time again.

So here, in a nutshell, is what I think of Trump:

  • He's smarter than people realize.  I think he often puts his foot in his mouth because he hasn't learned to think an opinion through before spouting it. That can make him appear stupid. But it isn't stupidity, it's bad judgment. His raw intelligence always struck me when I watched The Apprentice
  • He's ethical and fair-minded.  These qualities were very apparent in the show. He never fired someone unjustly. He was not intentionally cruel - although he could be terribly blunt, it was always about business, it wasn't personal. He has a certain kindness, even in dealing with difficult people. 
  • He doesn't play favorites between men and women.  I had expected him to talk down to the "ladies", to either treat them with kid gloves or be so demanding they couldn't compete fairly. Neither happened. He expects the women to be just as tough, and often pointed out to the men the strengths of a particular female competitor. 
  • He has amazing kids.  This is a man who has raised incredible children; all are adults, and all adore him. That says something. Even his daughter from his briefer marriage to Marla Maples, is assisting in the campaign and worships the man, even though he wasn't present a lot during her childhood.  During The Apprentice, he was often assisted by his younger son and his daughter, and both are very impressive people:  savvy, articulate, intelligent, classy, always polite and patient, and great business people in their own right. 
  • He is well-liked by impressive people who actually know him.  His wide circle of long-time friends have come out to speak about him, and many of them are successful, respected people.  Each one of them emphasizes his generosity, his morality, his intelligence. Each of them speaks of him as an honest, good-hearted man who occasionally speaks before he thinks. Each of them says he isn't in bed with the political elite, or the mafia, or any other group.  Each of them says he would make a fantastic president. How can so many people of that quality be wrong? 
  • He is quietly generous.  As his friends have begun to speak up, stories have come to light of the things he has done through the years for people who could give him nothing.  He is the type of wealthy man who, upon hearing about the plight of a person down on their luck, quietly gives financial support without being asked. He has been generous with veterans, both in terms of individuals and organizations; he has been generous with homeless.  Early in the campaign, a story was raised by another candidate about Trump using imminent domain to take an elderly woman's house: actually not the entire truth. Trump offered her a ridiculously high price for the house, and the land was slated to be taken anyway.  He did nothing illegal, nothing out of line with other businesses.  
  • He tends to surround himself with capable people.  This is important: a more arrogant man
    surrounds himself with people he can manipulate. Trump hasn't seemed to do that in his business life; rather, he sought out people who knew more than he did, and then gave them a task. He knows how to hire the best, then stand back and let them do their job. Again, arrogant men don't operate like that.  In terms of governing, I would think he would be one to find people who are experts and let them teach him.  That's a great quality in a leader. 
  • He has an uncanny ability to ignore the chaos of the forest and pick out the diseased tree.  This is exactly why thousands are showing up to his rallies. He tells the truth as he sees it, ignoring the self-strangling politically correct screech that has held this society hostage since Obama took office. 
  • He can be immature and mean.  This is an unattractive quality in a candidate and in a person. It happens when his thin skin gets nicked and his short fuse lights.  It is something he seems to be learning to censor, but he needs to learn faster.  It makes him appear to be a loose cannon; after all he can't be popping off to just anyone on an international stage - he needs to learn to marry that strong will with common sense and good judgment. I hope he can do it. 
  • He is good-hearted.  I don't think he is racist, or a misogynist. I think he is practical, less than diplomatic, and sometimes is so blunt that people aren't hearing what he is really saying. It makes me cringe, both because I hate to hear it from anyone, and because coming from a man
    who is shooting himself in the foot with it, it hurts. 
  • Trump will support minorites, the LGBT community, etc.  These issues are important to me. I don't believe the hype from the far Left that conservatives are all racists - I know that is nonsense. A few are. Not a few liberals are too.  I think when it comes down to it, Trump is pretty much color-blind. I think he will think in terms of equity and fairness without allowing the Left to hijack the narrative and take it to a ridiculous place of non-fairness.  I think he supports the gay community unconditionally.
  • Like great leaders, he is flexible.  I think he makes mistakes now, but will learn as he goes. This is not someone who has had years to learn the ropes of political science. He's an outside, which is exactly the point.  The danger would be a know-it-all; that isn't what we have here. He seems to be less concerned with pleasing everyone than with speaking his own mind and truth as he sees it. Refreshing in a "politician". We have a guy who seems to adjust his view as he goes in order to win - the quality of a stellar businessman - the quality of a great leader.  This is why he can win both sides of the aisle. He is being driven by common sense, not misplaced blind loyalty to some unworkable ideology that the constituents do not relate to.
  • He is weird when it comes to women, BUT . . .  You know, I don't like his history with women. I don't like the images he has promoted as the former owner of the Miss America pageant. I don't like the way he has talked about women, focusing obsessively on their looks rather than their actual capabilities. I don't like the way he went after Megyn Kelly because she dared challenge his treatment of women - in a way I suspect he would not have dared to if she were a male journalist.  I don't like his smarmy pokes at Carly Fiorina's looks. But I can't explain - if he is truly a misogynist, why did he marry such intelligent, capable women? Why is his daughter so incredibly capable, articulate, classy - never hiding her intelligence for the convenience of men around her. It doesn't compute. A man who dislikes women doesn't raise such a daughter or marry strong-minded, talented women.  I do believe that he is a bit conflicted, and a bit of an ass when it comes to women - but I can't give myself a reason why that should matter so much in a president at this point, in this year. Other issues are enormous.  
As you watch the process, I would - humbly - advise you not to panic. Trump may be the best thing in the end - for the conservatives, because they will have to finally get a grip and look at the real world; and for the liberals, because Trump won't deal in pie-in-the-sky narratives that aren't based in reality. His deep streak of common sense will trump anything.

And I would caution you to take all the pointing fingers with a big grain of salt. I've taken time to research the accusations others level at Trump, in their zeal to bring him down. Every one has turned out to be ... well, less that accurate.  Remember that both the far Left and the far Right don't want him in the way.  The Left may be afraid of the momentum behind his popularity; the Right is worse, as they see the empire that years of cronyism has built start to crumble as Trump preaches to the dissatisfied conservative masses. That is a very frightening thing for people who have their livelihoods and years of their lives built upon power.  

I am sick of some conservatives defining the movement for us all. By the looks of Trump's numbers, it would seem many - from independents to evangelicals, from immigrants to Democrats, from students to retirees, are good and sick of the establishment too. The degree of hate displayed by the Right has to be motivated by fear, of having their throne toppled and broken into irretrievable pieces. What they don't realize - those elite running the show - is that none of us are interested in picking the pieces up anymore so that they can stay in power and keep deceiving us.

Some say that Trump can't beat a Democratic candidate because he has too many secrets and garbage in his past. I notice that most saying that are staunch conservatives, invested in the status quo. They said the same thing about Reagan, by the way. Others say that he is the one who can beat Hillary - I don't think that is necessarily true, but I can't see any reason why he couldn't - we have evidence of many Dems defecting to Trump now, and more will during the general election. (Think about it - that would be a nightmare for the conservative elite, even as Trump is cleaning up the economy and creating jobs for thousands of liberals!) He certainly is likely to show no hesitation in going after Hillary with guns blazing, and she has plenty to hide herself, in addition to the Clinton cesspool that is already becoming more public daily. 

Whatever happens in the end, Donald Trump has been a godsend to America. He has stimulated a movement where people are tuning in to debates in record numbers, and going out to vote primaries in record numbers. Politics are studied and discussed as they haven't been in decades. People who long ago felt disenfranchised by the process and lost interest, suddenly are involved again. People have begun to think outside the lines that seemed so permanent for so long. And best of all - those who have run both major parties for so long are running scared, because this "crazy man" has risen in this fight to make a fool of all of them. 

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