Donald Trump is the presidential candidate we deserve, because he is a metastasized version of everything wrong with our shallow, narcissistic culture. He is a man bred for this moment. America deserves him because of how bankrupt we have become in ethics, morals, education, and standards.
Trump is the candidate America deserves, and here’s why in a nutshell.
1. He Is a Reality TV Star
America loves reality TV. In 2010 about 100 million people watched upwards of 200 reality shows. America’s love affair with reality TV has gone on for almost a generation now. Trump’s own reality TV series, “The Apprentice,” has garnered him name recognition and a reputation built on this facade. This although it is clear that reality TV has little (if anything) to do with reality and more to do with America’s obsession with peering into other people’s broken lives. That brings me to my next point.
2. Trump Is a Showman
Trump is a master of using a trainwreck to get people to pay attention to him. Anyone who has ever been stuck in traffic knows that rubbernecking is a great American pastime. Our media knows this, which is why they give Trump so much free air time. It is not because they agree with him or think he has something useful to say, but rather that Trump drives ratings and he is irresistible to our spectacle-loving culture.
It does not matter what side of the aisle you are on, Trump is the center of conversation. We all know the old maxim, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” and publicity is what Trump runs on. The fact that media publicity has been a major driver of his campaign brings me to point three.
3. Donald Trump Is Shallow
Trump is a shallow man who lacks introspection, integrity, character, moral fiber, and thoughtfulness. When pushed to provide details for his plans or beliefs, he typically cannot. Our culture has rewarded this sort of shallowness for years. From the soothsaying of Oprah Winfrey’s “spiritual advisors” to succumbing to our ever-shortening collective attention spans, Americans have lost the ability to have in-depth, meaningful conversations about anything aside from sports and celebrity gossip.
As we speak so we think, and vice versa. Our shallowness of speech has fed back into our shallowness of thought. So long as you say something that feels right, you need not actually back it up with facts or well-thought-out arguments. This has led to false judgments about people, and point four.
4. He Is ‘Wealthy’
Although we have no idea how much money Trump really has, he still presents himself as having wealth, which our culture has equated with success and proof that a person is superior. Americans love the appearance of wealth and success. How many Americans are living beyond their means, mortgaging their futures for present apparent wealth? How much stock have we put in people just for the sheer fact they are wealthy or famous?
Wealth is no measure of a person’s value or the value of his ideas. Having wealth does not automatically make one an expert in every domain. That includes governing a nation, and brings us to point five.
5. Donald Trump Does Not Know the U.S. Constitution
Trump had demonstrated time and time again that he has not imbibed basic high school civics. He is not alone in this, as our educational system has failed to train an entire generation for civic duty. Through our neglect America now thinks the office of the presidency is really about being a king who can make and enforce laws by fiat.
That is not true, though; the president is to execute the laws made by Congress. He has no power to make new laws other than approving or vetoing the laws Congress has made. Instead, America sees the presidency as a way to enforce freedom and equality, as if making more laws can make us freer and more equal. We collectively have the idea that electing one man can fix all our problems or destroy our entire country. This sort of overwrought response is emblematic of point six.
6. Donald Trump Is Thin-Skinned
One of the things people love about Trump is that he is politically incorrect. To be fair, this is a good thing. Our culture is currently battling the soul- and mind-crushing mire of political correctness. But being politically incorrect is not license to be a jerk, rude, or crude. Beyond that, if you want to dish it out, you have to be able to take it.
Trump cannot. He is offended at every petty slight and perceived affront. He is no better than the safe spacers and their rush to ban speech that causes the slightest discomfort. America as a whole, not just the safe spacers, has become hypersensitive to any slight, injustice, or deviation from our comfort zones. We are impatient and constantly in emergency mode, as if the whole world is ending.
We have lost our ability to calm down, not take things personally, and reason with people we do not agree with. We would rather stick it to “the man” and get revenge than turn the other cheek and seek ways to help our neighbor. This hypersensitivity to any view that may conflict with our own is part and parcel of point seven.
7. He Is Postmodern
Trump is double-minded. He has a truth and he believes it. It is why everyone says “he tells it like it is.” Trump tells it like he believes it to be, with conviction. That truth he believes, howeer, is unmoored from reality. It is a hodgepodge of gut guesses and expediency. Thus Trump ends up being double-minded, talking out of both sides of his mouth as his fungible truth moves to match his current perception and audience.
Actual facts, figures, and principles of objective reality do not matter, only what is felt to be true. This is true for America at large, especially in religion. Postmodernism has ripped away our ability to say anything is objectively and universally true. Postmodernism used to be constrained to things that could not be proved scientifically, as if philosophical, theological, and moral truths were not transcendent and knowable. Now, though, one cannot even say that about science, as even biologically evident truths are ignored in favor of what one feels about one’s self. We are a postmodern people, and Trump is a postmodern man whose truth moves to match his hearers and changing emotions and desires.
America has become a country where a major party decided a man like Trump was a good idea to run for the presidency. The fact that this man defeated “the strongest field of candidates that the Republicans have had in 30 years” shows the Republican field was in fact incredibly weak. Democrats’ difficulty in putting Trump away shows how terrible their candidate is.
The fact that no viable third party has arisen shows how incompetent our politicians are, and how anemic our civic pride is. We can wave our flags around, but when it comes time to govern we cannot get people of integrity to run, much less elected. This is a moment bred for a third party, especially with the maturity of new media and the popularity of our major politicians at record lows. That no one has taken the United States by storm shows how apathetic we are about actually doing anything. We like to complain and protest, but not actually do. We have become lazy.
Yet all is not lost. Trump may be the candidate we deserve, but he need not be the candidate we elect. In fact, none of the current candidates for any political position are. This is America: we can elect whomever we want, for good or for ill.
No political party or elite has any claim on your vote. It is yours alone. We have an eligible pool of about 163 million people. We do not have to put up with inferior politicians. Let us look for people of integrity and character, of moral fiber and patience. If you are that person, then this is your call to service. If you know that person, encourage and support them.
Let us strive for the nobler and the better things in life and humanity, and not look to our baser instincts, thoughts, or desires. Let us go forward and build a better America together, an America that deserves better.