Winston Churchill famously said that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” He was wrong. The best argument against democracy is probably a five-minute conversation with Donald Trump, a newly-announced candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States.
Ordinarily, this blog restricts its commentary on American political figures to polling data-based arguments about their electoral viability. My reasoning for dealing with politicians in the United States in this manner is based on my conviction that any serious candidate for public office deserves some serious analysis and examination, perhaps even consideration, by readers and voters, regardless of their political ideology or positions on specific issues.
But if you haven’t read or heard this anywhere else, allow me to be the first to tell you: Donald Trump is not a serious politician or candidate for president.
His entire announcement speech in New York City was an odious mixture of obnoxious self-aggrandizement and vindictive bile. His candidacy itself is an exercise in narcissism on a global scale, dwarfed only by the enormity of his failures as a businessman. His popularity among some – RealClearPolitics‘s average of recent polling data shows Trump with more supporters in the Republican field than sitting governors and U.S. senators – represents an indictment of the idea of an informed citizenry in America.
What’s worse, Trump’s popularity with a sliver of the electorate may result in a serious candidate, like Carly Fiorina or John Kasich or Bobby Jindal, being shut out of the “top ten” Republican primary debate on Fox News in August. Having a multitude of candidates for the Republican nomination is, in my opinion, a sign of the party’s strength. Strong success in midterm elections in 2010 and 2014 has meant that the GOP’s tent includes former and sitting governors and senators from all over the country, many of whom are undoubtedly qualified to serve as President of the United States.
The variety of candidates in the Republican primary field may showcase the party’s depth of talent and experience, but the very presence of Donald Trump in the race serves to undermine that image. News media outlets will spend more time talking about Trump’s regurgitation of decades-old nativism than Marco Rubio’s ideas about a “regulatory budget,” or Carly Fiorina and the “conservative case for feminism,” or Rand Paul’s work on criminal justice reform.
Sadly, it seems as if the oxygen for Trump’s candidacy isn’t even his own sense of self-importance (although he is certainly not lacking in that area), but is instead the result of some voters being so disillusioned with Washington politics, so uninformed as to what the office of the president requires, and so oblivious as to the changing nature of the American electorate, that they want to “stick it to the system” by supporting Donald Trump. Many Americans feel completely abandoned by politics in the United States, and some of them have mistakenly bought into Donald Trump’s narrative of Donald Trump.
But if those voters want a narrative that inspires, that motivates, that maybe even helps them believe in American politics again, they should learn more about Lindsey Graham’s experience with tragedy at such a young age. They should learn more about Carly Fiorina’s struggles as a working woman in the male-dominated tech industry. They should learn more about Marco Rubio’s upbringing as the son of Cuban refugees. They should learn more about the other candidates running for president, and the ideas they have for improving the country. After all, there are plenty of serious candidates from whom to choose.
There are plenty of serious candidates running for president, but the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Donald Trump isn’t one of them.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore