The Republican Party, the political party of commerce (and of jobs!), has two aspiring candidates for the presidential nomination who are drawn from the business community, one, who evokes unwarranted snoozes, the other, who rather astonishingly evokes derision. I am speaking of Carly Fiorina late of Hewlett-Packard and Donald Trump the billionaire developer. Those who offer their expert appraisals of these two candidates are retired politicians, political advisors, and pundits. In other words, these appraisals are coming from those who have left the field of political combat for whatever reason, or those who have never stood for election yet whose assessment of candidates are taken very seriously by journalists who, incidentally, have themselves never stood for election. Political commentary is unusual. It is as though the leading culinary critics in the country were all vegetarians, or at least fruitarians.
I could not listen to the anti-Trump diatribes last week without suspecting that I had just listened to the whining of critics consumed with envy. If Trump had only made and lost and made again, say, one billion dollars, would his apparently impecunious critics have shown him more respect? Would their assaults on him have been less personal, if he were merely a millionaire rather than a billionaire eight or nine times over?
Yet I will tell you this: Fiorina (if she can get a hearing) and Trump are going to carve out of the electorate a sizable constituency. There are, out there in the electorate, voters who are tired of politics as usual. They think the country is on the wrong track. They are at least mildly conservative and think a straightforward, generally conservative candidate can fix the problems facing America, which range from immigration, to foreign policy, to economic issues. They think a guy who has made billions knows more about the intricacies of real-life problems than a life-long politician.
Rush Limbaugh made the point the other day that American youths who grow up in school systems that continue to harangue them about the environment, the healthcare system, the criminal justice system, guns—all matters that supposedly adults have brought to ruin—are getting a ceaseless message of pessimism about their country. The news media and entertainment culture reinforce this pessimistic message. When Trump spoke last week about “making our country great again” his message was not lost on his audience. It re-echoed the message of an American president who cheered us all back in 1984 when he spoke of “Morning in America.” Come to think of it, Ronald Reagan entered politics late in life from the world of Hollywood. Why is it so gauche to think that Trump can enter politics from the world of commerce?
He has made and lost and made again his fortune with no hint of sleaziness. He prides himself in the art of the deal. Doubtless his deals have no traces of the unethical behavior of the Clintons. Is there anyone so jaded out there who would not relish a debate between the real estate magnate and Hillary or even better a debate between Trump and Hillary & Bill?
Finally there is something else to be said for Donald Trump. The critics tell us that he suffers from hubris. The Trump that I know does not suffer from hubris; self-confidence yes, but hubris no. He is a successful man and a cheerful one. There is no hint about him of the dark spots that the hubristic suffer. Surrounding him are cheerful hard-working people. His children are especially cheerful and hardworking members of the Trump organization. In an interview in The American Spectator last year he commented that, “One thing that was always important to me with my children is no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes. And I used to, from the time they were two years old and started understanding words, I would always say no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes. I would say it to them loud and clear and I would say it strongly. To a point where I remember Ivanka once saying, ‘Dad, don’t say it anymore.’ But I would say it, because I have so many friends that have very smart kids, but they got involved in drugs and alcohol and other things, and their kids are a basket case right now.” And he continued, “Life is tough…” but he made clear he had his priorities in order.
Now of course his three oldest children help him run the Trump Organization. Ivanka serves as Executive Vice President. She was there to introduce him the day he declared his candidacy. I predict he is going to run a great race for president, and at the end of the day, when he has had the last laugh, some observers will say he made it a race and one thing more: his children are his greatest monuments. Donald Trump has kept things in perspective.
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