Donald Trump has a point. Unfortunately for him, he also is the point. A nation cannot return to greatness unless it is led by great people. Trump might have achieved great things, yet he does not act as though he did. People who constantly brag about their success provoke suspicion, not admiration. They seem to be riding their celebrity, not their successes.
America did not become great by having leaders who were petty and vindictive, mean-spirited and vulgar, litigious and self- aggrandizing. America has always loved the idea of a citizen politician, but a president should have attained prior success in government. Better yet, he should bring success and achievement to the office. And he should bring experience.
No one imagines that Hillary Clinton will make America great again. If elected, she will spend her time fending off multiple investigations into her potentially criminal enterprises. The stench of corruption will compromise any semblance of greatness.
Whatever the outcome of the investigations, Hillary helped her husband to become the first president in memory to cash in on the nation’s highest office. Everyone can see that Hillary cares more about what the country can do for her than about what she can do for the country.
Her slogan should be: Make Hillary Great, for Once!
A serious candidate should bring greatness to the office. He should not take greatness from the office. A candidate who is unqualified or self-interested will diminish the office, and with it the nation.
Donald Trump has built a real estate empire, but he has never been in politics. Thinking that success in real estate development qualifies you to be president is like saying that borrowing money from a bank makes you qualified to be CEO of the bank. Trump’s inexperience has shown up in his less-than-stellar campaign.
Lacking political achievement, Trump is running on his celebrity status. To spice things up he has offered a string of empty promises. “Believe me,” he says, while giving us no rational reason to do so.
Hillary’s public service has been marked by far more failures than successes. Were it not for her husband and her gender she would never have been considered for the presidency. Her candidacy is a modern instance of nepotism.
When Obama called Hillary the most qualified candidate in American history he was either reading from The Onion or trying to see whether he could get away with yet another lie.
Yet, in Obama’s world real qualifications and real achievements do not count. You are well qualified when you can trick enough people into thinking that you are well qualified.
When leaders have accomplished great things, they command respect. Neither Trump nor Clinton do so.
If Trump commanded respect he would not need to bully people. If he wanted to act like a great business success he would not be bragging about it incessantly. And he would not be preparing to retaliate against those who did not support his candidacy.
Since Hillary does not command respect and is barely likeable, her supporters play the gender card. If you do not respect her for her “awesome” accomplishments, you are a sexist misogynistic patriarchal bigot. Even without Trump playing the role of the sexist Antichrist, a Hillary presidency will severely damage relationships between the sexes.
Strictly speaking, both candidates are underqualified. Fortunately for them, in the Age of Obama, it doesn’t matter. Barack Obama defined qualification downward. If he was qualified, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton can look presidential. Today, merit takes second place, behind diversity. And, lack of real achievement is compensated by the appearance of achievement… that is, by celebrity.
To be fair, Barack Obama did not claim to be the most qualified candidate. Being the first African-American candidate, he offered America a chance to cleanse its soul of its racist past. His supporters suggested that he would save the nation’s soul. He compensated for his thin resume by having celebrity status. He had charm and charisma. Hung out with celebrities. He was idolized by them.
Obama did not run because he had achieved very much or because he was a great success. And yet, he expected to receive as much respect as anyone else who had ever occupied the Oval Office. Those who refused to respect him were labelled as racists.
In truth, he received the respect due to someone who presented an embarrassingly weak resume. Having precious few qualifications for office, he seemed to have been promoted for reasons that had to do with his race, his celebrity and his charisma. Being elected does not make you qualified or competent.
If Colin Powell had been the first African-American president, he would have received more respect that many of his white predecessors—because he worked his way up the ranks and would have brought his own greatness to the office.
Feeling that he was not sufficiently respected, Obama went to war over minds and ideas. His supporters joined the fight. He did not know enough to conduct foreign policy or to fight wars. He knew how to fight racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and transphobia. If people did not respect him, he would make them do so.
Obama turned the marketplace of ideas into a battlefield. He supported social justice warriors and racial grievance hustlers. He and his allies in the academy attacked those who dared to think the wrong thoughts or to use the wrong pronouns.
The result: America became less and less a meritocracy. You are no longer a meritocracy when colleges, in particular, select students in order to fulfill diversity quotas. And when they blame the underachievement of some students on other students.
If different people have been admitted to a college (or a workplace) with different qualifications, they will not do as well. In the current climate people who excel are denounced and guilt tripped for their white privilege… even if, as increasingly happens, they are Asian.
We see the price of diversity on today’s college campuses. Students who are accepted with lower grades and test scores feel that they do not belong and cannot compete. To assuage their anguish they insist that other students should not be allowed to intimate that they are not as good.
When diversity replaces merit, no one can be judged on real world terms. But then, when people are not judged by their achievements, they will be judged by appearing to have achieved and by appearing to be qualified. In short, they are judged by their celebrity, by appearing to succeed. In a fictional world, celebrities rule. Hard work matters less than exposure. Decorum is less important than shamelessness.
In a world defined by celebrity, greatness is a state of mind. It does not involve success or failure; it does not involve achievement or accomplishment. Since life is a grand drama, you do not need to work to achieve. You need only to look the part.
Ironically, a builder like Donald Trump has become prominent, not so much for his buildings as for his media presence. If Trump loses the reason will be that he did not want to do the work necessary to prepare for his campaign or his debates. He decided that he could go with his gut.
This year, both Republican and Democratic political parties seem to have conspired to make Barack Obama look presidential. No wonder two thirds of Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction.