(All graphics courtesy of Elizabeth Horton Newonfirstname.lastname@example.org for assignments and rates)
Recently I read a rather ugly argument that took place, of all places on Linkedin. It seemed to start as a discussion of Donald Trump and his…character, such as it is. Like any argument it became heated, though I did notice that the serious Trump types were more interested in arguing and calling names than in discussing what I would hope people think about how his character might literally affect his presidency. What struck me most was an admonishment from one person that went something like this. “What do you mean you have doubts about Trump? He’s a businessman. So he can create jobs and he can make trade deals. Do your research!”
It was probably the “do your research” line that really made me shake my head. You’d hope, under any circumstances that people wouldn’t be quite so gullible. Meaning that most of the world makes vague promises that are not to be trusted to get what they want and people are understandably untrusting and skeptical; it’s the way of the world. How often do you trust someone after a few “pitch” lines. Why do we have any reason to exempt trump from this universal standard; he is not a business paragon and certainly he has lived to increase his advantages at other people’s expense, like any businessman. What has he done that would make him “trustable” as opposed to absolutely anyone else who comes out of nowhere and offers something you want? I imagine one of Trump’s followers, most of who are supposed to be blue collar types, having Trump coming up to them and telling them that he has the greatest auto in the universe and that he’s going to sell it to them. No one will ever have as good an auto, ever, and he’s doing them a favor by selling it to them. I think I can be certain that the first reaction would be a string of words that can’t be printed here. In fact, as you’re about to find out, coming from where I come from, my first reaction would be the same string of obscene words. And yet a man who is rich, privileged, full of failures in his businesses, best known for reality T.V. comes and slings a few slogans and offers them a car that they’ve never seen and they line up, pens in hand to sign the papers.
What is weirder is that as he turns towards the general election and begins to waffle on all of the platform issues that got him the votes he’s gotten, the wall, stopping Muslims from entering the U.S., he seems to have even less and less to offer his own followers and even they can’t be sure he’s going to have their backs. And yet they expect he does. As we’d say where I come from, I have a bridge I want to sell you.
Which brings us to another dimension that dominates this whole Trump phenomenon for me. Donald and I share certain cultural characteristics that are known throughout the world: one of the most important of those characteristics is skepticism. Yes, I am a New Yorker, and not just any New Yorker; I grew up in Queens only miles away from Donald Trump. As a result I find the entire issue of accepting Trump at face value based on his slogans extremely ironic. Believe me when I say that I know that Trump would never take anything Donald trump says at face value. The people that do accept a pig in a poke, if they exist in any part of New York, are called suckers and people Donald Trump would laugh at long and hard at all of them. If you accept this then you will have to consider that Trump is playing people, even his own base, by using their emotions against them. Yes, the establishment has screwed the little man for years and they deserve to be fired for that. But “not being what you hate” doesn’t mean that someone, Trump included, is what you want. If you hate Hillary and think she’s a crook, then the fact that Donald Trump isn’t Hillary doesn’t come close to make him a reputable candidate. There are too many things that an inexperienced newbie, self-absorbed politician like Trump could mess up, regardless of the fact that he is NOT Mitch McConnel, Hillary Clinton and just about anyone you might consider “establishment”.
I can’t prove this, though I would think that much of what Trump says proves my point. But, to make my point I have created a fictitious dialogue between Donald Trump the candidate and Donald Trump the financier. Donald Trump the candidate wants campaign money from Donald Trump. Donald Trump the financier is all bottom line: can you deliver what you offer to meet my needs. Don’t trust anything that can’t be verified. If you are perceptive, and maybe if you’re not, you will see that Donald trump is as he’s portrayed here; a man who would never would take anything that affects him profoundly for granted.
Trump Candidate: So I wanted to meet with you. I feel that we have a lot of things in common. I think that I could be the kind of candidate that, as president, would represent your needs and values. I am hoping that you can provide ten million yourself and help me raise another ninety million through your contacts.
Trump Financier: That’s asking a lot. What would I get in return? And why do I believe you can…or will deliver what you offer. You’ve already waffled on a number of issues, so I’ve heard.
Trump Candidate: I think that’s something we can talk about, at least. I really love your hair by the way.
Trump Financier: Thank you! I have gotten some flak about it.
Trump Candidate: Some people are threatened by confidence and personal style.
Trump Financier: I agree completely. And you may have noticed I never have to carry an umbrella. This takes care of it.
Trump Candidate: I’ve noticed the same thing
Trump Financier: I wonder if that’s something I can sell. The Trump “HeadBrealla”.
Both Trumps laugh.
Trump Financier: You want a beer.”
Trump Candidate: German please.”
Trump Financier: Of course.”
Trump Candidate: So I think that as a candidate I can work toward your agenda as a businessman.”
Trump Financier (waving his hands): That remains to be seen.
Trump Candidate: I thought we saw things the same way.
Trump Financier: Are you going to try to play me? I agree that we have a lot in common. But all you’ve done is come and say some things to try to make me trust you. I’m not much for flattery. If I was I’d have been scammed over and over again. That’s for suckers. If anyone is going to do the scamming, it’s me. Do you think I’ve gotten where I have by listening to people who say things they think I want to hear. Do you know how many times people have tried to sell me crappy deals that way?
Trump Candidate: You don’t trust me? I thought we were on the same page
Trump Financier: Of course not. I just met you, though I’ve heard what you’ve said. Only a fool trusts someone right off the bat. Looking at you I would think you would know that. You’re going to think of yourself first. And, as a businessman, you’ll step on anyone who gets in your way. So as a seasoned businessman, I require that you prove your case.
Trump Candidate: Well…frankly I do understand that; it’s how you develop commitments. I’ve spent my life negotiating. But for some reason I haven’t had to worry about it lately. Maybe I thought it would work with you. I’m not experienced at this.
Trump Financier: Wait. You’re saying you don’t have to worry about getting people you don’t know to trust you? Are you serious? People just took you at your word? Who?
Trump Candidate: My political base.
Trump Financier: How did you do that?
Trump Candidate: I’m not really sure. I said some things. And some people reacted well. I thought I’d have to prove myself, just the way you said. But it didn’t work out that way. I think it’s because I’m not the people they hate. They assume I’ll be different.
Trump Financier: Who do they hate?
Trump Candidate: Politicians. GOP politicians to be exact. You know, the establishment.
Trump financier: The establishment? You are the establishment. You’ve given money to whoever you thought would give you the greatest advantage. You’ve been a businessman. Is it like these people think you care about them? That’s not business.
Trump Candidate: It seems that way.
Trump Financier: But you’ve never acted in any way that would make people think that you’d look out for them. Especially to your own disadvantage!
Trump Candidate: I don’t understand it any more than you do.
Trump Financier: Are these people who trust you from New York?
Trump Candidate: Some of them.
Trump Financier: Amazing.
Trump Candidate: I was surprised too to be honest.
Trump Financier: I’ll have to find out more about this. But since I haven’t fallen under your spell you’re going to have to prove to me that you be useful to me before I give you a dime.
Trump Candidate: (Pauses) But I’m going to make America great again.
Trump Financier: (Laughs) I think I’ve heard that before. In elections for the past fifty years. Let me put it this way. What is the per centage of politicians who actually follow through with the most important of their promises regardless of party affiliation?
Trump Candidate: Well…I’m not sure why that’s relevant. I developed a relationship with my base. What I can promise you is-“
Trump Financier: Bottom line for anyone with a brain. Never assume someone is going to do what they say they will. No politician has ever delivered on most of what they claim they’ll do. Especially if they have a business agenda. No one is going to screw themselves over. At least not any businessmen from this city.
Trump Candidate: I’ve been able to get people to trust me to improve this country, to look out for their interests. I can become president. Does it matter how I can do that if I can help you in the long run?
Trump Financier: Ah. Now we get down to it. Quid Pro Quo.
Trump Candidate: I didn’t think anything else would interest you. You don’t strike me as the do-gooder type.
Trump Financier: (smiles) I never claimed I was. So, really, how did you get your…base to believe you’d represent their interests?
Trump Candidate: Um…I said things.
Trump Fiancier: You said things. What kind of things?
Trump Candidate: I told them that I would make America great again.
Trump Financier: Yeah, I heard that. You said it before. That’s it?
Trump Candidate: I told them that Mexicans were rapists. And that I’d build a wall to keep them out.
Trump Financier: (Laughs) A wall. Do you mean a wall all across the entire Mexican border?
Trump Candidate: (Embarrassed). Yes.
Trump Financier: Are you saying you believe this is possible?
Trump Candidate: Well not necessarily.
Trump Financier: Do you know how much that would cost. All of the legalities involved. The structural issues alone would stretch this project out by twenty years. I know you’ve done construction. It would cost more than fixing our infrastructure for the entire country as it is. Ridiculous.
Trump Candidate: So it might not be a perfect plan. But people believe it.
Trump Financier: (Laughs). You’re lucky you’ve moved from development to politics. If you brought that proposal to any developer…well you’re bringing it to me. Ridiculous. I’m not getting the best feelings from this. You’re all over the map.
Trump Candidate: (Eyes widen) You’re not interested?
Trump Financier: As long as I have guarantees that you’d look out for my interests. If you tell me, say, that you’re going to back trade agreements that will support some of my business interests I’m not going to believe you right of the bat. I have factories outside of the U.S. and I’m want to keep them. If you tell me something like your “wall” story, I’m going to laugh and tell you leave my office. The point is that if your base wants something that goes against my business agenda, you won’t be able to give me what I want. Or you won’t be able to give them what they want. You have to decide where your loyalties lie. Of course you don’t have to tell them that. (Laughs)
Trump Candidate: Well I’ve got some policies that will protect American business interests. I’ve said that I’m going to bring all the jobs back to the U.S. But I’ve already backed off on the wall. At least who’ll pay for it-
Trump Financier: Very smart! So you don’t believe you can do it!
Trump Candidate: (Shrugs) Everything is negotiable.
Trump Financier: Unless you’re going to get screwed because you have to have things a certain way. If I lose money, nothing is negotiable.
Trump Candidate: Well anyway, I’ve pulled back on the wall a little and even on stopping Muslims from emigrating to the U.S. So I can negotiate with you about jobs overseas. If it’s something you need then we can tweak my policy to make it work for you. Of course I may not announce that for while. You understand.
Trump Financier: Perfectly. Always give people what they want.
Trump Candidate: (Nodding). Very sound idea.
Trump Financier: How did the people who voted for you react to the fact that you’re backing off on who pays for the wall and Muslims entering the U.S.?
Trump Candidate: Honestly, I wouldn’t know. I don’t ask them.
Trump Financier: That seems like it could be dangerous but that’s not my problem.
Trump Candidate: I never really considered it. Remember I’m going to make America great again.
Trump Fincancier: Uh…yeah. I get it. So let’s get back to the overseas businesses. Will I be able to keep the businesses that are under my name in foreign countries? I have hotels everywhere and some clothing concerns in China for instance.
Trump Candidate: I would say so.
Trump Financier: What does that mean?
Trump Candidate: Well, I think a man in your position understands I can’t give away the store. Or be predictable. Let’s say my base decided that having any businesses going abroad is not tolerable. It happens to be one of the policy areas that I haven’t said I’d negotiate about. It’s probably one of my most effective.
Trump Financier: Did you hear me when I spoke about loyalty. You’re trying to have your cake and eat it to. So you can’t guarantee that you’ll back me even though you said you would. And you’ve promised to build a wall which we know you can’t build but you’re starting to waffle on that. And you’re starting to waffle about Muslims entering the U.S. So why should I give you my trust. Or my money?
Trump Candidate: Okay. I get it. I can guarantee that your overseas factories. I’ll have to modify my policy. Or I’ll just have to lie.
Trump Fanancier: That’s one way to get what you want. There will be other things I want as well.
Trump Candidate: (Sighs) Let’s leave the businesses overseas issue on the table. Let me get my staff…well they aren’t always on top of things but let me ask them to see what walking back on this issue might do to my image with base. Either way, I’m sure we can find somethings that I can do that will help you.
Trump Financier: Possibly. So far you don’t seem like you can make any consistent commitments to anyone. Or even find out if you can.
Trump Candidate: Wait! I will speak to my staff and come up with a proposal that I’m sure will satisfy you. That’s a promise.
Trump Financier: I’m open to that. Just keep in mind that I value loyalty very highly. If you’re going to leave me holding the bag because you will waffle on something because it’s to your advantage I’ll make your life miserable. What will your base do when you screw them on your wall or whatever?
Trump Candidate: Let’s just stick to what we can do for each other. You don’t need to worry about them.
Trump Financier: Well actually I do. If you don’t keep your supporters you won’t be able to do anything for me. Rock and hard place, eh? And, as I’ve said, there are other things I’ll want for giving you my money.
Trump Candidate: Honestly they aren’t exactly brain surgeons. I’ve looked at the demographics.
Trump Financier: Maybe. But they are very angry as you’ve pointed out. Think of what happens if they get angry at you. Look I have a phone meeting in twenty minutes with my Chinese employees. I’ll have to end this. But I suggest you get that proposal set up quickly. Then we can talk about the other things I want. I won’t wait forever. I don’t have the time.
Trump Candidate: Okay. I’ll do that. You won’t be disappointed.
Trump Financier: I don’t get disappointed, I get gone.
Trump Candidate: Well I-
Trump Financier: My assistant will show you out. Thanks for your time.
Trump Candidate: (Fumbling out of his seat). Of course. I’ll do what you said. I promise.
Trump Financier: (Smiles). Try the Dim Sum down stairs. It’s the best outside of China Town.
Trump Candidate: Uh…sure. I’ll get that agreement set up in the next couple of days. I promise.
Trump Financier: Sure. I believe you.
Trump Candidate: Okay, see you in a couple of days.
Trump Financier: (Smiles. Stands as the Candidate Leaves). Asshole.
Trump Candidate: (Out in the hall). But I can make America great again.