D.G. Martin: Worrying about Trump
What did Hillary Clinton tell Donald Trump when he invited her to his wedding?
She said, “I will come to the wedding if you promise to run for president.”
This joke from Winston Salem’s Steve Porter made me laugh, and it reminded me that we owe Donald Trump a thank you.
He has got us interested in politics again.
His presence on the political scene requires us to think seriously about what qualities we most want in our country’s president and those we most want our president not to have.
For me, I want a president who is calm, thoughtful, careful, and respectful of the ideals and objectives of others, both friends and enemies. I want someone who knows that moving forward requires compromises as well as advocacy.
Trump does not measure up to my ideal.
But many Americans do not agree with me. They think we need a leader with supreme self-confidence, someone who sweeps away the doubt and can promise to clean up the messes, get things done, and plow through anybody or anything that gets in the way.
Democrats now celebrating the disruption and turmoil that Trump creates for the Republican establishment may find that Trump is a bomb that could blow up in their faces, too.
Trump’s machine-gun-like attacks on Sen. John McCain, Fox TV’s Megyn Kelly, and others may ultimately bring him down. His tough-talking arrogance may wear thin with the public. His unwillingness to rule out a third party candidacy may cost him support of Republicans who are loyal party people.
If Trump is pushed into a third party candidacy, some Democrats would still be smiling, remembering, they think, how Ross Perot’s third party candidacy in 1992 pulled away enough votes from President George H.W. Bush to make Bill Clinton’s victory possible.
If not, and Trump becomes the Republican nominee, some Democrats think that his erratic behavior and his hard-line, simplistic, controversial, bombastic, and conflicting stands on issues would assure their nominee a victory in 2016.
There is a problem with this way of thinking. The American people sometimes prefer non-traditional leaders, even those so far out of the mainstream that regular politicians laughed at their chances.
For instance, Raleigh’s conservative publisher and commentator Bernie Reeves, quoted in the “American Thinker” magazine’s blog, compared the main street media’s coverage of Trump to “the condescending criticism dished to Reagan in 1981. The Donald is characterized as an egotistical real estate billionaire; in 1980, Reagan as a third-rate B-movie actor. The Donald says build that wall (to curb illegal immigration) while Reagan said ‘tear down that wall’ that spelled the end of Soviet communism. The Donald says he will undo Obamanomics while Reagan said he would cut taxes and spending. Is history repeating itself?”
Reeves continues, “Trump is a valid contender for not being intimidated by politically correct blowback like the other candidates. He represents extreme change, what Americans want as fast as possible.
“Another similarity between Trump and Reagan: they both gained traction in reaction to a Democrat president who weakened America, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.”
While I disagree with Reeves, his finger may be closer than mine to the pulse of an important segment of American voters.
Progressive citizens in Minnesota had to get used to the bombastic and victorious Jesse Ventura as their governor. In California, they had to accept the leadership of blustering bodybuilding actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bernie Reeves might argue that Ventura, Schwarzenegger, and Reagan turned out to be better choices than the traditional politicians who opposed them and that Trump would, similarly, be a better president than his more traditional opponents, both Republicans and Democrats, in the 2016 presidential contest.
I do not agree. But Reeves and Trump have got me worried.
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.