Trump or Clinton?
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on August 01, 2016.
How did Trump get so far? When he started he was dismissed as some kind of joke. But now here we are: He is the Republican Party’s candidate for president of the United States of America, and has a significant following, not to be dismissed.
Here is, I think, why.
We live in a time when people want something new all the time: a new car, a new dress, a new house. Ours is the age of planned obsolescence. Trump is something new. We have never seen a candidate like him. He curses. He offends. He refuses to listen. He speaks his mind without concern for what the polls or the media might say. The guy is genuine. He seems like a breath of fresh air. People would like something new in the political scene and Trump is just that. Clinton, on the other hand, is old hat. The voters have been there, seen that.
Another reason Trump is attractive is that we live in an age of Twitter. Communication has to be short. That is the secret of the Huffington Post’s success: no long articles, just bite-size messages. Trump does not give you any long plans of action. “Just trust me,” he says. That’s it. Nothing to discuss. Nothing to analyze. Nothing to debate. “Just trust me. I will make America great again.”
“Make America great again” insinuates that America is in very bad shape. This is a third source of his appeal. It is much more energizing to the masses to criticize, to tear down, than it is to build up. Clinton has a plan — it can be criticized. Trump has no specific plans (except for building a multi-billion-dollar wall along the Mexican border) so what is there to criticize? “Just trust me,” he says, “I am Trump. I am trustworthy, although I have gone bankrupt six times. But I did not bankrupt myself. My companies did that and that is legal, folks.” The fact that when he went bankrupt, thousands of other people were left holding the bag — and were not paid, and they too almost or did go bankrupt — does not concern him. “It was legal.”
People who have no political track record cannot be criticized for their track record. That is Trump. Clinton has done many things in her public life as first lady, senator and secretary of state. Those who do something can be criticized for what they did. Not Trump. Since he has not done anything in public service we are buying a cat in a bag. We have no idea what he might do or not do. It’s very risky. Would you appoint someone who never ran a company — say, a dentist, even a very successful one — as CEO of your company? Not on your life. But if Trump wins that is what it is going to be.
Without a record he offers nothing that can be criticized, and that is very attractive. Since he gives no specific plans, only platitudes, there is nothing to hang him for. And he is new, fresh. Those factors are sure to be attractive in comparison to Clinton, the old hand, with a track record and specific plans.
There is one more reason, in my opinion, why Trump is attractive. He is a typical Arsonist in my leadership typology. This kind is seldom right but never in doubt. He is so full of himself, so absolutely a believer in his own stories, lies, and promises, that it is contagious.
If he is so sure, maybe he is right. We do not want a leader who is doubtful. That scares us. This guy is absolutely sure that there is no global warming. Never mind the evidence, he is sure. He is sure that NAFTA is a disaster, although all research shows it created rather than eliminated jobs. Never mind the facts, he is sure. And he is absolutely sure that, with a snap of his fingers, he will solve the problems of the Middle East, eliminate ISIS, and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — a conflict many past presidents cut their teeth on and came out with their tails between their legs. But Trump says he will do it fast. How? “Just trust me. I am a great negotiator.” What will he negotiate? “I will decide when the time comes. Just trust me.” This kind of self-assurance is attractive to those who do not want to think, who love to follow blindly.
Trump will be a disaster. DISASTER.
Many people I talked to do not want to vote for Clinton either and will skip going to the voting booth altogether. They do not realize that not voting is voting for Trump by default because those who love Trump are not skipping out on Election Day. It is the Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders, or people who do not want a woman in the White House, or do not want a Clinton dynasty, who will skip voting and defacto give Trump an advantage and choose Trump to rule us next four years.
There is however one possible advantage to have Trump elected. (Thank you Gareth Chang for making this point).
Trump’s record is that he breaks the rules. He pushes the envelope to the limits. That works in the business world. In politics, in governing, in a bureaucracy, if he pushes the envelope , if he skirts the law, if he plays games, which he will do because that is his personality, he may find himself the third president to be impeached in American history. The country will experience a major, major turbulence, and that might be good. Finally we will have a crisis that is big enough that the political will to make structural changes the system requires will coalesce. Someone like Sanders will not be an odd ball anymore but a true and accepted re-engineer of the system. And that is good. That is what the country needs. A lemon (Trump) can make a lemonade (A better America).
In other words, before America can be great again, it needs to be worse to gain the will and the strength to make the necessary changes. And, Trump guaranteed to make it worse because he does not walk the normal path. In American politics this will not go unpunished, and the process of punishment will create an enormous turmoil that will enable a re-engineering of the system which we clearly need.
Do we want to take the chance?
Ichak Kalderon Adizes