I didn’t know much about Trump before he ran for office. I knew he was a wealthy business person, had hotels, and was on the apprentice. I also remember him promoting a Trump board game way back in the day. I’ve paid close attention over the last 3 years and I’ve learned a fair bit since. For those who take the time to understand him, he’s a fascinating person.
One of the things that’s had my attention since he took to twitter was his sense of honesty. It was bewildering for Trump to lie so frequently and so obviously, and then to see it resonate so well with his base. All this talk of drain the swamp had so much to do with dishonesty in how politicians interact with the public. Yet here was a person who lied freely while his audience was chanting ‘drain the swamp’. A lot of people write that off as a cult of personality or a result of poor education. Both are likely to be true but I suspect there’s more to it than that.
As we’ve seen, there’s no shortage of wealthy people who are fans of Trump. One of them is a friend of mine and we’ve been debating the topic of Trump for nearly 3 years now. My friend is a good man, runs a good business, and really does value things like honesty. Early on, I kept asking him why he was supportive of someone who lied so often and so freely. At first he denied the lies. So I kept pointing them out. Then he said that it was par for the course in politics. So I showed him stats that suggested he was in a league of his own. He said my fact checking sites were biased. He had barricaded himself in… so I had to try another approach.
One of his favorite authors had a blog which talked politics and economics, and I wanted to see what he had said about Trump. There was a very interesting line about “taking trump seriously, but not literally.’ Something clicked. If you took Trump literally, then he was a very dishonest person and not very smart. But if you took him seriously, well that didn’t require him to be intellectually honest.
I really does seem like we’re approaching some type of grand tipping point here. One of the things I keep seeing is a battle within our own minds between thought and emotion. They’re very different parts or the brain that have evolved for very different purposes. 100,000 years ago, the emotional part of our brains were far more valuable to us than the logical side. But in a world full of abstract concepts and so heavily supported by technology, thought has become more valuable. I suspect that this is something that’s rarely thought about, let alone discussed. But I think that tension exists and it’s manifesting in a variety of different ways. Including Donald Trump.
Trump doesn’t have an intellectual sense of honesty. It’s rather obvious at this point as even my wealthy friend has conceded. Now it’s not about what he says, but rather about what he does. He’s seen as a ‘salty sailor’, the kind of person who cusses and isn’t politically correct, but also the kind of person who wouldn’t hesitate to pull you out of a burning building. For the record, I don’t think captain bone spurs is pulling anyone out of a burning building. Trump hasn’t demonstrated much of an internal compass outside of self-preservation and ‘winning’. For him, I suspect life is a zero-sum game where nothing really matters besides beating your opponent. In that context, he’s found intellectual dishonesty to be far more advantageous. But it’s not the only form of honesty.
I still see Trump supporters talk about how honest he is. And when they make references, I kinda get it. He’s willing to say all kinds of things that your average politician wouldn’t be willing to say. Much if not most is misleading or inaccurate, but the topics his willing to talk about aren’t. I would think to myself that if only he would actually be honest on these topics, this would transform politics in the best way. But there’s still something here.
It dawned on me this morning… that Trump is intellectually dishonest, and emotionally honest. He has no emotional filter. When you see Trump, you get Trump. There’s this wonderful authenticity to him when he brags or when he gets angry, because that’s actually him. That’s not the polished politician who we’ve become accustomed to. We’re used to politicians presenting themselves the way they think we want them to present themselves. The end result is a product which we all known is a front. Hillary Clinton probably would’ve been a fine president, but the people couldn’t get through her emotional dishonesty and she paid the price for it. Curious that American politics finally made us choose between dishonesty and dishonesty.
For decades, we’ve wanted to see behind the veil and know who these leaders really are. Trump was the first President to be emotionally honest with the people. Perhaps, in many ways, Trump was the first president that we really got to know. Even better, the whole world will probably get to know him a lot better over the next couple years as the Mueller report pulls back the curtain on the rest.