Where to begin? So many clichés, so little space! It is a mad, mad, mad, mad world – at least given the current state of politics in America. And it definitely seems we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto. We have gone down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass with Alice and a host of others. Were this 1968 rather than 2016, we might be hearing Robin shouting “Holy Politics” or Gomer voicing “Surprise, Surprise!”
Lo and behold, the Democrat front runner for the office of President is a septuagenarian, democratic socialist. As a student of politics, I find that term confusing, meaningless even, in a Democratic Republic. Regardless, Senator Sanders’ performance in IA and NH has likely surprised most Americans.
Turning to the other side of the aisle, the Republicans seem enamored with a Reality TV show actor, cum billionaire. Given America’s general political disdain, at least historically, for members of the wealthy class, Mr. Trump’s status as the leading contender should also shock many.
But, and here’s the thing, the fact that these two men are leading the nominating efforts of their respective parties should send a loud, clear message to the political elite of both parties. Americans are fed up with the status quo. They are angry at politics as usual. They are willing, apparently, to gamble with the future of this great country on the hope of change.
In a prior post, I used a bridge bid analogy – One No Trump – to argue the case against Donald Trump. I do so once again. In this case, unlike my earlier criticism, the analogy requires a play on words. The bridge bid used is ‘Gambling 3 No Trump.’ I suggest that, should Trump be nominated and subsequently elected, we would be playing a system based on ‘Gambling with Trump.’ As the NY lotto so often says, “Hey, you never know.”
But these are long odds. His candidacy carries too great a risk. Some might be drawn in by Trump’s experience in the gaming industry, realized through his ownership of some casinos. I am not included among them.
With every speech I watch, I continue to be totally amazed at the lack of ideological or policy substance he offers. Yes, he offers some strong slogans. He leads with “Make America Great Again” and delivers nonsensical speeches littered with “We’re going to win again. We don’t win anymore…” In between these catch phrases, he continually tells us how smart he is, how good he is, how rich he is. He constantly enumerates his personal attributes to the point that, frankly, I become ill.
Make no mistake! I agree that America has been on the decline over the past few decades. I agree that the political system is not working. I agree that the system is slanted, both politically and economically, in favor of the wealthiest among us. That favoritism is bought with artificial bribes offered to the economically least among us. And all of this serves to inexorably squeeze the middle class.
We need changes. Dramatic, sweeping changes! Political and economical! And most importantly, we must change our tax code (after all, this is primarily a tax blog.) But, I caution those who support Trump (and Sanders) to be careful what you wish for. Sanders offers Americans a socialist state. History suggests that system doesn’t work very well. Trump offers us, well, Trump. The truth is, we don’t know what he offers, outside of his platitudes and slogans.
What we do know is that he is unmistakably, unquestionably, a narcissist. That is troubling to me and it should be troubling to all of us. Narcissism, considered a psychological problem, is a factor in trait theory and is one of the three dark triadic personality traits. Alarmingly, this triad includes psychopathy and Machiavellianism. It has been reported that four separate dimensions of narcissism as a personality variable exist. These are leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration, and exploitativeness/entitlement.
In the book Narcissism: Behind the Mask, David Thomas suggested that power-hungry narcissists typically display most, if not all, of the following traits.
- An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
- Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults
- Haughty body language
- Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them
- Detesting those who do not admire them
- Pretending to be more important than they really are
- Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
- Claiming to be an “expert” at many things
If we are honest with ourselves, I believe an evaluation of Mr. Trump’s speeches, of his behavior and manner, clearly demonstrates that he exudes all of these traits. In his NH victory speech, he claimed “I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” Really. Even if he were elected and even if we subsequently enjoyed the largest increase in private sector jobs in our history, really?
Trump likes to say he tells it like it is. He asserts that he does not care for political correctness. I suggest what he says and how he says it has nothing to do with political correctness or the lack of it. Rather, he is simply an egotistical boor, enamored of his own reflection. As one example, he recently referred to one of his competitors as a pussy, then made light of the matter. True, using that word is not politically correct. Using it as he did, however, was not an avoidance of political correctness. It was, quite simply, rude, boorish behavior.
I believe America is the greatest country on earth. But, we have made some mistakes, particularly with regard to different races and ethnicities. However, we generally look back on those actions and conclude they were mistakes. Under a Trump administration, we would view them as a punch line delivered by a late night comedian.
The incivility that now permeates our society, exacerbated by social media and the anonymity of the internet, has become Trump’s calling card. Were he to be elected President, it would be a sad day for this country, for humanity, and a grave risk to world order.
Since the start of the 20th Century, presidential campaigns have used music to help convey their message, to communicate the sense, the style of the candidate. I have a suggestion for Mr. Trump. Contact Carly Simon and see if you can get permission to use You're so Vain.
Thinking about a Trump candidacy, or worse, a Trump presidency, makes me ill. I will try to quell that nausea with a refreshing adult beverage. Several!