I Don’t Hate Trump

Everybody on one side says everybody on the other side hates Donald Trump.

No, I don’t hate him.

trump_flicker_face_yess-bwTo be most charitable, I don’t care about him enough to hate him. If he were someone I encountered in life – at a bar, at a ball game, doing business, attending a gala, playing golf – I would quickly decide that he’s not someone I want to be associated with. Because he’s crude. Because he’s selfish. Because he’s conceited. Because he’s overbearing. Because he’s loud. Because he’s crass. Because he’s ignorant.

I know other people who are crude or selfish or conceited or overbearing or loud or crass or ignorant. I’ve responded to them by finding someone else to associate with and by finding reasons to not hang around with them. I’ve responded by ignoring them.

No, I don’t hate Trump. But I do hate – wait, let me think… yes, I do hate what he has been doing.

I hate the bullshit that he uses, predictably, unnecessarily, aggressively, stupidly. Many say he tells lies, but Trump goes beyond lying. He bullshits. The difference? A bullshitter doesn’t care about truth – truth has no significance for him. And Trump will say anything, true or false, as long as it will get him an immediate approval by whoever is in front of him at the moment. His daily, hourly bullshit degrades the value of fact and the importance of truth.

I hate the revenge that he visits upon those who don’t go along with his bullshit. That includes (especially) those who are forced to defend him – his spokespersons, his lawyers, his cabinet members, his family. That also includes those who are charged with doing real work for the American people – professionals in the government departments, elected officials in Congress, judges on the bench, reporters for local and national media, even leaders and workers for political parties.

I hate the contempt he spreads for people who disagree with his opinions. Contempt for others is a staple of the Trump campaign speech and it continues as a staple of his speeches as president. Despite his boorish behaviors, Trump, as president, continues to provide a role model – so his contemptuous behavior is still providing a model of behavior for the population at large.

I hate his dismissal of the mores, traditions, and behaviors of government. In almost every case, that dismissal goes without explanation or justification. There is no open dialogue about why something is done or done in a particular way, or whether there is any problem with that, or whether what replaces that behavior improves anything.

I hate his whining, his repeated complaint of being a victim. Trump projects himself as rich beyond comprehension, occupies the highest elective office in the country (some say, in the world), wields more immediate power than anyone else. Yet his speeches and his statements always reflect a sad and sorry complaint about how others think of him.

I hate the incompetence he is demonstrating. Truly, I do – that may possibly be the most hateful thing about Trump. He cast himself as a strong and successful business leader. Yet, in both his campaign and in office, Trump has utterly failed to manage the most basic organizational tasks and has shown no capacity for leading anyone. Other nations’ leaders are seeking world leadership elsewhere. The Congress is scrambling in search of leadership among their own, lacking guidance and consistency from the president.

I hate the ignorance that feeds him. More to the point, I hate the normalization of ignorance that he, as president, is giving prominence to. This is accentuated by comparison to his predecessors – particularly Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter, all of whom were driven by intellectual curiosity to shape informed visions and strategies backed by a grasp of the foundations that support those visions and strategies. Even those who didn’t start their presidencies with deep knowledge understood the need to learn, and spent their time becoming informed. Trump has shown little interest in learning even the most basic lessons about how to do his job as president, or about how government works, or about much else. When he blurted out “No one knew how complicated health care is”, that discovery was not followed up by an effort to learn – months later, he was still making ignorant statements about health care, with no understanding of “how complicated” it is.

I hate the conceit that controls him. I find it impossible to listen to him – he always draws the discussion back to himself. This obsession with himself interrupts – and devalues – whatever message he is trying to deliver. It reflects his ignorance about the point of being in elected office – that is, to serve the public.

No, I don’t hate Trump. But I do – and should – hate what he has been doing.

I recommend the essay On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt, to serve as a guide to listening to Donald Trump.