I think many of us, Republicans included, agree with Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain’s vociferous attacks on Donald Trump, whose self-aggrandizement, lack of consideration for other individuals and whole groups of people, and ignorance of public issues and foreign policy are truly shocking.
But politicians are human beings, flawed and self-contradictory like the rest of us. Together with the negatives that are much too long to list, Trump must have some traits that other less successful political figures might learn from. In fact, whatever they may say, a lot of them probably envy his fame, his political success to date, and his ostensible wealth.
Paul Krugman (“Clash of Republican Con Artists,” New York Times, 3/4/16) identifies one positive, though a double-edged one:
…the Trump phenomenon threatens the con the G.O.P. establishment has been playing on its own base. I’m talking about the bait and switch in which white voters are induced to hate big government by dog whistles about Those People, but actual policies are all about rewarding the donor class….
Yes, he’s a con man, but he is also effectively acting as a whistle-blower on other people’s cons. That is, believe it or not, a step forward in these weird, troubled times….
Or as his Times colleague Maureen Dowd more acerbically puts it (“Chickens, Home to Roost,” 3/5/16):
The most enjoyable thing about the Trump phenomenon has been watching him make monkeys out of a lot of people who had it coming.
A lot of us, like all those people investigating life in Canada, don’t think Trump would make an acceptable president. But just for the sake of argument, I’m looking for some other positives as he, along with Bernie Sanders, continues his quest to shake up US political assumptions and establishments. To be precise, most of the following points are non-negatives:
He is not dug into his opinions, since he keeps contradicting himself and says what he thinks on the spur of the moment, so maybe he is capable of learning as time goes on, which is not true of most national political figures.
Despite his demeaning attitude toward women, he also has supported Planned Parenthood and is not obsessed with other people’s abortions.
He supports federal programs that benefit ordinary citizens like Medicaid and Social Security.
He is not a right-wing religious activist, his father is not a fringe evangelical preacher, and he does not look forward to Armageddon as the fulfillment of Biblical prophesies.
He does not proclaim that “Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this country,” in the words of one of his rivals.
He does not claim to be an exemplar of “family values” (which are one-size-fits-all anyhow).
He is not Tea Party-approved.
Despite his apparent tolerance for the KKK, he did not grow up looking nostalgically back to the good old days before the first Republican president.
He made several donations to the 2008 campaign of one of his potential Dem opponents.
He has been more effective than the Dems in throwing the R establishment into contortions and anxiety.
Like many of all political persuasions, he has attacked international trade deals and job outsourcing as causes of working class economic decline in this country.
He is not a xenophobe, since he tends to marry (European) immigrants.
Since, even more than most of us, he hates looking bad, he might as he claims be a skilled deal-maker in dealing with foreign countries and with corporate defectors from the US.
With his outsized desire to succeed, he might, as originally claimed, be “neutral” in trying to end Mid East conflicts.
Unlike all his remaining rivals, he has not been on the government payroll.
He said what most Americans think about the lies that got the US into the interminable war in Iraq and dares to remember that 9/11 did not happen when a Democrat was president.
He probably would, as he claims, get along with Vladimir Putin (as a fellow authoritarian, though that’s not quite how he put it).
He is not in thrall to the corporate money and lobbying groups that hold vast power in Washington, not even NRA and AIPAC.
He stimulates many disillusioned Americans into paying attention to politics and voting.
He is a successful entertainer capable of reading an audience’s moods, speaking without teleprompters, and producing viral sound bites.
Like many Americans, he knows what it is to lose money in a financial meltdown and declare bankruptcy (at least for his corporations).
His prominence offers new work opportunities in the health fields. Seriously! See “Psychologists and massage therapists are reporting ‘Trump anxiety’ among clients” (Washington Post, 3/6/16).
He is not Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio—about whom I know nothing good at all to say, except that they are not Donald Trump.
If Trump’s talents and positions on some issues were divided up and spread around to the other R candidates, they would all be better off. (Of course, they could use his money too.)
Oh, and another good thing about Trump: with increasing exposure and public disillusion, he is not likely to beat Clinton or Sanders.
But I don’t think he’ll have a chance to run against either one of them: I’ve been predicting for 2 months that the Republican nominee will be Paul Ryan. And then, won’t we feel nostalgic for the excitement that Trump has been injecting into daily political life (unless, of course, he runs as a third-party candidate)?
photo “Trump in Manchester, New Hampshire Feb 2016” by Marc Nozell from Wikimedia Commons