I have a profound dislike of the actor, Donald Trump.
Like many famous people, he believes he is smart, good looking, and rich, and those qualities are sufficient to qualify him for president. He’s not far off the mark if you look at many of our politicians. But, as a famous actor, he can use his fame as a launching platform for politics.
In my book, The Donald is just another cynical politician who will say anything to get votes. He will use his fame and status as a “smart businessman” to fool people into thinking he is other than just another demagogue. For the record, I define demagogue as a person who would cynically seize on some populist theme and exploit people’s ignorance of it for personal power.
I find his image and his need for self-promotion to be rather lamentable. I think he must have a rather shallow ego, a little man’s complex, and all this hype he creates about himself makes up for some deficiency. Or maybe he’s just a narcissist. But then I’m no psychiatrist.
I believe he lives a huge lie built around his expertise in real estate, his apparent billionaire status, and his lavish lifestyle. He has this constant need like many narcissists to be in the spotlight and promote his carefully constructed image. In my opinion his real estate success is mostly built around a myth. In reality he has just been a sailor on the business cycle wave, riding it up and then riding it back down.
Trump started out with his father’s fortune but to his credit he became an experienced and often successful real estate investor with a knack for survival despite his huge ups and downs. I respect him for this. It is a mark of many successful people to keep coming back after failure. You can check him out on Wikipedia and track his ups, downs, and bankruptcies. It hasn’t been a smooth ride for him and he keeps getting tripped up by our boom-bust cycles.
In 2005 he sued author Timothy O’Brien for libel because O’Brien had the audacity to claim Trump was only worth between $150 million and $250 million — not the $5 billion to $6 billion that Trump boasted. The suit was eventually dismissed. I recall in his deposition (maybe it was in the Deutsche Bank suit, I can’t remember), Trump said certain properties were worth far more than the appraised values just because he thought they were. Forbes now pegs him at $2.7 billion. I wouldn’t believe what Trump says, although he says “it’s enormous.”
I call him an actor because he is. Not because of the success of his acting on the Apprentice shows, but because his life is an act. I have the impression that everything about him is just a constructed image. By the way, I admire him for his success with the Apprentice series. He gets a reported $3 million per episode. But who is the real Donald Trump? If it is what we see, then he’s pretty sad.
I think his politics are reprehensible. Just about every comment he makes is anti-free market and calculated to ring a bell with the great unwashed. He’s clearly a populist and he is demagoguing issues like free trade and Obama’s citizenship to gain political traction. It seems to be working. That’s what makes him dangerous.
The “Should Trump Run” website put up by his backers has a series of videos rather than position papers on things. From what I can gather, here is what he believes:
- Deficit Reduction: Ryan is too far out front on this issue. Ryan is radical. We’ve got to be careful we don’t want to jeopardize seniors.
- Medicare: Protect senior citizens. They are our life blood. Don’t touch Medicare
- Free Trade: “The world is destroying our country.” China is stealing our jobs and industries. All our jobs are going to China. We should impose a 25% tariff on Chinese goods. It will bring jobs back to America and pay off our debt to them.
- Oil: OPEC is sapping our strength. OPEC should be illegal. Gas prices are going to $7. We should steal Iraq’s oil.
- Defense: He’s stronger on defense than any Republican.
- Health care: He wants people taken care of. But not Obamacare, but rather something “we can afford.”
- Politics: “Me a liberal?”
- Abortion: Pro-life. Formerly pro-abortion.
- Faith: He claims to be religious.
- Economics: He understands economics because he went to Wharton and got good grades.
He’s dead wrong on just about everything. I wouldn’t trust a thing that comes out of his mouth at this time. Or at any time. He’ll say whatever it takes to get elected. His positions are either:
(i) Sincere, in which case he doesn’t understand anything about how the world works (economics);
(ii) He is insincere, in which case he just dangerous because his ideas are ruinous and you will have no idea what he’ll do.
The common view that most people have of successful businessmen is that they can apply their business acumen to politics and that makes them eligible for public office. I think that is a incorrect view of things. Politics is not business and it is ideas that make a candidate good or bad. I don’t think we know what Trump’s true political identity is and I doubt we ever will. But I would rather have an ideologue like Ron Paul who can articulate the beauty of free markets. You know where he stands.
If Trump gains traction, then he must be viewed as a serious candidate. And that’s where the harm is. At this point I don’t see any Republicans who have good free market, pro-liberty credentials. I love and support Ron Paul, but he’s never been able to become a viable candidate. If Trump’s poll number stay high, his candidacy will split the Party between the economic conservatives and a coalition of the social conservatives and their more populist followers, and Obama will be re-elected. Trump could destroy the “libertarian” (economic conservative) wing of the Republican Party just as it is gaining strength. “W” Bush did the same thing. We need to dump Trump before he gets that far.
If there is no decent candidate, then, as Black Panther Eldredge Cleaver said about the 1968 election, “Our choice is between Oink, Oink, and Oink.”1
1. Cleaver was referring to Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace. I heard him say this at a law school lecture.
P.S. It would be presumptuous of me to think that Trump would read this piece, but I hope it is brought to his attention. He’s litigious and it would be wonderful if he sued me for libel. As a former attorney and now prickly blogger I would dedicate my life to any lawsuit that comes my way. It would, as Clint said, make my day.