Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nervous about Donald Trump

Ezra Klein:
Trump's other gift — the one that gets less attention, but is perhaps more important — is his complete lack of shame. It's easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they're exposed as liars, when they're seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn't. He has the reality television star's ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won't, to say what others can't, to do what others wouldn't.

Trump lives by the reality-television trope that he's not here to make friends. But the reason reality-television villains always say they're not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch. "I'm not here to make friends" is another way of saying "I'm not bound by the social conventions of normal people." The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.

This, more than his ideology, is why Trump genuinely scares me. There are places where I think Trump's instincts are an improvement on the Republican field. He seems more dovish than neoconservatives like Marco Rubio, and less dismissive of the social safety net than libertarians like Rand Paul. But those candidates are checked by institutions and incentives that hold no sway over Trump; his temperament is so immature, his narcissism so clear, his political base so unique, his reactions so strange, that I honestly have no idea what he would do — or what he wouldn't do.
I don't really know what to make of Trump, either, but he doesn't scare me much. I tend to think that once in office he would settled down to making deals, which might be better for the country than partisan posturing.

On the other hand it is a little frightening to think what he might do if some foreign leader questioned his manhood.


Shadow said...

The thought of Trump as president scares me.

G. Verloren said...

On the other hand it is a little frightening to think what he might do if some foreign leader questioned his manhood.

I firmly believe Trump is the American Putin. He's a shameless cretin who relies on a powerbase of violent xenophobes and blindly zealous nationalists, whom he feeds a constant stream of lies about "making the country great again".

The problem is Putin is smarter than Trump, and better at playing the heel. At best, Trump will be routinely beaten at his own game and become an (even bigger) embarassment to the nation. At worst, these two misanthropes will set off World War III over a contest of ostensible chutzpah and machismo.