Thoughts on Trump

During periods of fear and anxiety, candidates try to promise things they may not be able to deliver. The problem with demagogues is that you make promises that you can’t necessarily keep. But people want to believe it. Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin


The polls and pundits were wrong: Trump won the election. Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million votes and counting. Trump won the electoral college by winning Wisconsin by 0.8 percent; Michigan by 0.2 percent and Pennsylvania by 1.1 percent. Wisconsin will do a recount. Perhaps Michigan and Pennsylvania will too. With all the talk of rigged elections by Trump and rumors of Russian hacking to help Trump, I think recounts would be appropriate for the integrity of our election process. I do not expect the results to change.

I assess a presidential candidate first by character and then by talent, experience and policy positions. A person of character models goodness: caring, empathy and compassion for all of humanity. A person of character has a strong inner core: deep values and a purpose greater than himself. A visionary, he has a positive, hopeful, sustainable and forward-looking dream for the evolution of America and the planet. A president of character shows us wisdom, bravery, fairness, knowledge, emotional maturity and transcendence.

Character stands alone as the primary and essential requirement for presidential leadership. If the candidate lacks sufficient character then we have no need to even consider talent, experience and policy positions. No one has everything we’d like in a president but Trump lacks most everything. I could not imagine him as a presidential leader. And that was before I watched him on the campaign trail.

I found it painful to watch Donald Trump at debates and rallies. He projected so many things wrong with what it means to be a man today, or a decent human being in the 21st century or what should be expected of a president of the United States in a complex and interdependent world. Rejecting self-awareness, he projected his faults and dark motives onto others. He seemed to feel entitled to be petty and vindictive. Easily manipulated by praise, he therefore lacked personal freedom. He lied constantly to protect his false image. I experienced him as a hollow man—a man without a core. I felt repulsed by him and found him contemptible. I feared for democracy and for America.

Much of the media sold its journalistic soul for the money the Trump spectacle brought them. Trump lies 75% of the time. His followers didn’t care. We watched crazy in action and a serious election process became a reality TV show. Character mattered not at all or not much to those who followed him. The more despicable he was, the more they supported him. He made angry Americans feel heard and cared about. They rewarded him for making them feel good. They so wanted to believe in him. Will future historians write that America went crazy in 2016?

We must not normalize Trump despite the temptation to do so. If we think of him as “normal” we feel less anxious and afraid. Making him normal dumbs down what we expect of a man today, what we expect of a decent human being in a diverse world and what we expect of our president in a dangerous time.

We—our society and our culture—made Trump. He emerged from the understandable pain, fear and anxiety of a large segment of the rural white community many who feel their voices have been ignored and others who feel overwhelmed and left behind in a rapidly changing world. He also emerged from the fears some have of powerful women, people different from themselves and racists who saw a kindred soul in Trump. And he emerged from white people who feel, again understandable, deep anxiety about becoming a minority demographic group soon. A true demagogue, Trump falsely convinced many who want to believe that their problems will be solved by building walls, victimizing others and retreating from the world. I do not believe Trump will be the cure of the ills of America; I believe he will make them worse.

The majority of Americans see a different America. We walk into an unknown future darker and more dangerous than just weeks ago. We support those terrified of Trump World. We go forward with others guided by our life purpose, our values and a dream of a diverse and inclusive America and a planet sustainable for all people.

23 thoughts on “Thoughts on Trump

  1. Tom: Recommend you stick to observations about wolves, prairie dogs & other non-human beings. Had your comments been about Trump’s opponent, they would have been spot-on albeit not nearly critical enough about a career politician, disbarred lawyer, i.e. failure at just about everything she tried.
    Just a thought


    • Tom’s opinion is just that, his opinion. He doesn’t need to limit his observations on anything. They’re HIS observations. In the future I suggest if you read it and if you don’t agree, ignore it. No need to put him down or the other candidate, who by the way won the popular vote.


  2. Tom goes public with his political opinion & I am not allowed to express disagreement. Is he in a “Safe Zone”.?
    BTW, I don’t think Trump was a great candidate but he was the best candidate. He made money the American way, raised an exceptionally bright set of kids & won the election the American way, by winning the majority of the Electoral College delegates. He is our President. Clinton supporters should just live with it & stop whining.
    Just my opinion, I could be wrong!


    • You are “allowed” to do anything here in cyber world, but should you? To state a different view point is one thing; it’s another to say someone else should limit themselves because you don’t agree. “He made money the American way, raised an exceptionally bright set of kids & won the election the American way . . . ” is certainly one way to look at it; the majority of us see it another, completely different way. And BTW, I will live the Trump presidency but I will not stop voicing my objection to all that he stands for. If you see that as whining, I guess you also think Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King, Jr, Nelson Mandela, etc. were “whiners.”


    • Hillary also made money the “American” way and raised an exceptionally bright daughter. And she has the right character to lead this country. Trump is an embarrassment and I fear for my children and grandchildren. I raised my kids to be kind to others regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or abilities. Mr. Trump has made it ok to put others down. Just today, one of his supporters disrupted a Delta flight in the name of Trump. And this is only 1 of many examples of the haters speaking out. I will not be complacent and let this play out. I will speak out against all attempts to take us backwards. Bravo Tom, for expressing what needed to be said.


  3. I happen to agree completely with Tom’s thoughts on this, and have been undergoing my own immense and intense last three weeks on the matter… and I also respect Bob’s right to express his opinion/thoughts on the matter.
    I see Tom’s Thoughts (the forum) as a “safe zone” in which diverse thoughts may be shared. The ones for this column seem to reflect a representation of the voting American public, 2016.

    Yesterday I viewed (on YouTube) an hour-long interchange, sponsored from somewhere in The Netherlands, with moderators, guests and — most importantly — Edward Snowden, who was primarily being asked his views on Trump’s pending presidency.
    Snowden’s comments were technically hampered by echo/feedback (which he apparently also experienced) but I found them very interesting. He basically said (and I definitely am paraphrasing):
    Don’t take this event (Trump’s presidency) as a singly-important (good or bad) event or indicator… this is temporary and also wide-spread… stay alert… pay attention… be responsible… listen to your own knowing of how to behave, and behave well… (and more, along those lines). Just as the NSA story isn’t about him (Snowden), the current election story isn’t about Trump. They are both about “us”, and “us” is the whole world, not just the US.

    In loving spirit, Eleanor


  4. Well said Tom. “Normal” and Trump do not belong in the same sentence.
    When every living President and every living former presidential candidate refuses to support you and does not vote for you, it speaks volumes about your character. He is a disgrace.


  5. Tom, I am so comforted by your piece. Eloquent, instructional, balanced. I am so happy to see YOU writing get here and am so on your page, especially in painting the criteria of candidacy.

    Thank you for stepping squarely into the arena of public comment. I fervently hope people will follow your lead regarding accepting Trump , his behavior and “princilples” as the new normak. You are right. It is easier, less stressful to accept or try to rationalize or even put one’side head in the sand hoping it will blow over. But we owe our country and theme world much more. I pray for the elements you clearly articulate at the beginning of your pie email here to be found in many of us and to be exercised responsibly over these coming years.


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