There are many reasons to vote for Donald Trump for president. He is an expert at hard-hitting quips. He is willing to throw the kitchen sink at anybody who crosses him. He has blue collar appeal and an unlimited expense account.
There is one giant reason not to vote for Donald Trump: he has no central guiding values other than his own glorification.
Practically speaking, here is the Donald Trump Doctrine for the Donald Trump Presidency in The United States Of Trumpia:
Enemies of Trump Must Be Punished. During the infamous CNBC debate, Trump explained his greatest weakness: “I trust people too much. I’m too trusting, and when they let me down, if they let me down, I never forgive. I find it very, very hard to forgive people that deceived me.”
Trump doesn’t see ideological opponents. He only sees people who cross him. It doesn’t matter if Ted Cruz agrees with Trump on immigration restrictions – Cruz had the temerity to personally question Trump’s candidacy, and so Trump opens up the guns. Some conservatives seem comfortable with the idea that Trump’s enemies will be conservatism’s enemies, but there’s certainly no guarantee of that. After all, at various points during his career he has bashed conservatives, leftists, and people who won’t let him buy their land.
Friends of Trump Must Be Rewarded. All people are judged good or bad based on their personal relationship with Trump. Here’s Trump on disgusting race-baiter Al Sharpton back in December 2014: “I know [Sharpton] very well and I’ve always gotten along with him, to be honest with you. There are those who say [Sharpton] likes Trump a lot.” He reiterated that on Bill O’Reilly’s program this week. Here’s Trump on Bill Clinton in 2014: “I play golf with him and I like him. I mean, what’s not to like?” Here’s Trump on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin: “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country…I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know.”
That isn’t to say that Trump won’t turn on any of these people in an instant – just look at how he swiveled from praising Ted Cruz as a “special guy” a few months ago to a “nasty guy” now. But the point is this: for Trump, the only reason to call you friend or enemy is based on your personal treatment of Trump.
Trump Gauges Quality By Success. Politicians by nature shift in the wind. They follow what’s popular. They are chameleons. Trump has this quality to the extreme. Not only does he routinely shift positions on every major issue of the day – he has never held a political position consistently, from abortion to immigration to Syrian refugees – he gauges his own level of success by popularity. He doesn’t do things because they’re right. He’s right because he’s popular. That’s why Trump may know nothing about policy details, but he knows the verticals on every poll taken about him. Donald Trump knows Donald Trump is right because Donald Trump is popular, and Donald Trump gravitates to popular positions because that’s what makes Donald Trump popular and thus right.
Trump Never Makes Mistakes. Ever. Whenever Donald Trump tweets something stupid, he promptly blames an intern. When Donald Trump refers to Second Corinthians as Two Corinthians, he promptly blames Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: “Tony Perkins wrote that out for me. He actually wrote out the 2, he wrote out the number 2 Corinthians.” When Donald Trump talks to God, he never apologizes, because he’s never made a mistake: “Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes? I work hard, I’m an honorable person.” No religious person in human history has had this perspective. Trump is religious, so long as he has a mirror available.
In an odd way, Trump resembles President Obama. He’s a thin-skinned egotist who identifies his own success with the success of the country. President Obama treats attacks on him as attacks on the United States; he treats personal affronts as national slights. Trump would be the same way. Trump’s less ideological than Obama – Obama sees every conservative as an enemy, while Trump doesn’t discriminate based on baseline ideology. That’s why Trump wouldn’t be an effective conservative egotist.
But he could be effective, if he happens to stumble on the right enemies.
Trump wouldn’t make America great again – he’d make Trump great again, and by his lights, America would follow. So long as Trump temporarily attacks the right enemies, enough conservatives might follow him. But that doesn’t make him trustworthy.