|Donald Trump. It's not easy being orange.|
It was as if a giant elephant just fell into the room. "How could you possibly support Trump?" I asked, agog.
I do try to understand; I read articles with quotes from Trumpites, and they say the GOP front-runner expresses their anger, or he says what they're thinking, or he's politically incorrect and will shake everything up, or he's a deal-maker and running the country is about deals.
Few Trumpsters say they support him because they like his policies, or they revere his upstanding character, or for his record in international relations, domestic lawmaking, handling crises or joining together opposing groups.
Far from uniting us, as he claims he'll do, feelings about Trump are polarizing Americans, individually, and in small and large groups. Politics' divisiveness is impinging on our lives and causing depression. And speaking of psychoses, I cannot understand how Ben Carson endorsed him, after Trump called out Carson's "psychological disease," and suggested he's a "child molester" and a “sick puppy.” (Dr. Carson in his endorsement said there are "two Donald Trumps." Is that the doctor's diagnosis of schizophrenia?)
I am flummoxed that Chris Christie endorsed him so shortly after asserting Trump "did not have the temperament" for the presidency.
It's true that a president needs tact. Trump demonstrates little understanding of the delicacy of diplomacy in any context. And were he to have access to nuclear bombs and armies, it could mean literally the end of the world. Those stakes are too high.
Trump may be right that he "could shoot someone without losing voters." Thousands of Trump University students and the New York Attorney General are actively suing, claiming enrollees were misled into a fraudulent educational experience. Doesn't matter, Trumpers know it's fine, since Donald shrugged it off on TV.
If he were honest in and about his business dealings, I wouldn't care that some of his endeavors failed. Much more important to presidential success is proven ability to work in the milieu of Washington. The culture and protocol of national politics will not crumble, even if a brazen president wills it. Thousands of people have built careers within a reliable web of agreements and relationships, and will not scrap their investments in Washington's political structure.
Trump can never win the presidency because the majority of voters, even voters and politicos in his own party, disdain him. Not just because he's an arrogant bully (though he is) but mainly because he is dangerously unpredictable. We don’t know what he plans to do, and if he hints at something in response to a journalist's questioning, he’s only too willing to totally change it, even on the same day, if his feelings change.
Every debate and speech Trump makes teaches us how he operates, and that is, Donald Trump wings it. He says what he feels at the time, unplanned. His speeches are off the cuff; his responses to charges are counter-attacks, often ad hominem.
And that teaches us, the American people, that his policies and messages to dignitaries will be winged, too. What Donald feels, Donald says—until he changes his mind and undoes it.
The one thing to look for in a leader is long-term perspective. Someone who doesn’t wing it, but looks far into the future at potential ramifications of short-term steps, toward a lofty, worthwhile goal. Trump has no aspiration to a virtuous future more moral or dignified than the kind of ambiance he fosters now. He has no affinity for any religion, and suspicious enmity toward Muslims. He only mentions God when trying to win over preachers and congregations.
When someone peppers his comments with “Believe me,” you know you can’t. When someone criticizes him, Donald automatically goes on the offensive with something more rude and outrageous than what was lobbed at him.
There is one commonality in the responses of Trump admirers--they're based on emotions. If you're angry, if you're resentful, if you feel threatened by immigrants who could take your job, or who change the character of your neighborhood, you're driven by powerful emotions. And seldom can logic dissuade you.
I'm a psychologist, and this principle applies to behavior in every realm, marriages, work, and friendships: Emotions trump logic. I've been using that phrase for decades before Donald Trump made it so apropos.
Donald Trump fires up emotions, but we should not be led by emotions. The central Jewish prayer "the Shma" warns not to follow your heart, lest you're lured away from duty and nobility. Because emotions are compelling, my logical arguments probably won't sway my emailing friend away from Trump. But we risk severe peril if we collectively succumb to emotion and eschew the calm pursuit of civility in a long-term context.