Saturday, April 2, 2016

Letter to a Trump Supporter

Dear T-----:

I know you are a Trump supporter, and I know in our conversations that I’ve pointed out aspects of Trump’s approach that I like. I’m writing now to say that I’ve pretty much vetted Trump to my satisfaction, and have come to the conclusion: He should not be in the White House.

The final straw was my review of his foreign policy positions. They don't make sense. They'd sound alright if US foreign policy were a direct business transaction, but it is not.

The benefits the US has gotten from its political and military clout in Asia and the West are immense. Trump's plan, abandoning long-held policies, would create power vacuums in key regions. He talks as if these power vacuums would not be taken advantage of by our enemies. They would. That's the point about power vacuums: the enemy moves in immediately and begins reaping advantages where previously you did.

From a US foreign policy perspective, the main enemies are three: radical Islam, China, Russia.

We cannot afford to let whole regions fall further under the sway of these serious strategic competitors.

The problem with Trump's thinking is that it is based on his life as a businessman. In a large-scale real estate project, you fight for the best prices, bribe the right people, strong-arm the local authorities to bend zoning ordinances, build and promote the building--AND THEN, TAKING YOUR PROFIT, YOU LEAVE.

Trump talks as if American foreign policy is a kind of real estate project. The blindness in this is clear. With foreign policy, you can never do that last part of the deal: LEAVE.

In other words, Trump's whole perspective is not suited to the long game that is statesmanship. Once things get messed up on one part of the picture (as has often happened with Trump's individual business ventures) he cannot just move on to the next big project. No--the world is the whole world; there’s no next project to move on to.

I imagine Trump in the Oval Office fuming that he cannot just let some particular project go bust so he can get up and running on the next: Trump University; Trump Steaks, etc. But he will not be able to. In the White House, when one project goes bust, it just keeps going bust, and you can't really extricate yourself. Because you are in charge of managing America's relations in all of these regions, and unlike casinos, or steak brands, regions can’t be sold off.

If you combine this short-term real estate developer's approach with Trump's erratic flip-flopping, and his nearly pathological narcissism, you will see what I see. A formula for disaster.

And it's no small disaster either. You need to keep in mind, when you think of supporting Trump, that this guy will personally be in charge of the system that keeps your finances in order. In short: When Trump fails on foreign or trade policy, which are closely interlinked, America's economic well-being will take the hit. The market will drop, companies will lay people off, home values will suffer, etc.

You have to try to imagine this guy not as what he's been so far, the loudspeaker in which you hear your justified grievances against the system, but as the one in charge of keeping our whole egg cart from tipping over.

Trump's approach so far is not one to inspire confidence in his skill as a careful egg cart driver.

I don't completely support any of the candidates on offer, as I've said, but I'm hoping the GOP ends up with someone else. You personally don't like Kasich, his demeanor, but he's the most stable of the three who are left. And he has a lot of experience in government. 

We'll see what happens. I'm also furious at all the corruption, both cultural and political, in America. But Trump is not the answer. Yes, he has done the country a service by underlining some of the worst aspects of the problem. But we need a calmer, cooler head, with a better sense of political complexities, to actually fix the problems.

We've discussed Trump several times, and I wanted to send you my current thinking. Hope you’ll reconsider supporting Trump in the Wisconsin primary.



My new book Idiocy, Ltd. is now available through Amazon.

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